Proteins are part of every cell, tissue and organ in our bodies. We have 20 different types within our system. However, there are some essential proteins that are not naturally created by our bodies. These are the ones we have to make an effort to include in our daily intake. Most of us run to a protein treatment when our textures appear dull, before wondering if we’re eating enough of it on a daily basis. Although hair is “dead”, an essential component is protein! A deficiency can cause you to lose shine, definition, interfere with your moisture levels and ultimately result in stunted hair growth. Including whole grains, beans and legumes, eggs, nuts & seeds, lean meats, free-range or organic poultry will ensure your protein levels are in a healthy range.
Those of you suffering from scalp ailments, such as dandruff or constant buildup, may have a vitamin deficiency. Similarly to Omega‑3 Fatty Acids, a Vitamin A deficiency will affect your oil reproduction and overall scalp health. You can find Vitamin A in carrots, mangos, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach and collard greens; just to name a few.
A deficiency in Vitamin B may cause hair loss, excessive oil reproduction and premature graying. Eating things like whole grains, beans and lentils, potatoes and bananas will aid with restoring those deficiencies.
Vitamin C is what we count on for growth and cell repair. A deficiency can stunt your length retention and interfere with your scalp’s circulation and healing abilities. Including oranges, papaya, grapefruit, cauliflower and asparagus can help restore depleted levels of Vitamin C.
Vitamin E plays an important role in proper scalp circulation and the oil levels of your hair strands. A deficiency may cause overly dry, brittle hair and ultimately result in hair loss. Including avocados, nuts like almonds and hazelnuts, tomatoes and beets into your diet will help you maintain proper levels.
Low levels of important minerals such as Iron, Potassium and Zinc can adversely affect the structural makeup of the hair. Your roots must receive mineral nourishment in order to perform the function of growing and maintenance. With a deficiency in these minerals, scalp tissue may break down and result in weakened damaged hair. You can control your intake of minerals by including rich greens like kale, brussels sprouts and spinach as well as corn, beans and fresh fruit into your daily diet.
Instead of carrying this long list of proteins, nutrients, vitamins and minerals and worrying about your possible deficiencies, it’s best to note that having a daily diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts will have all bases covered. I tend to juice most of these vegetables first thing in the morning to get my daily fix out of the way. A simple fruit cup will cover your daily serving of vitamins. I also throw flax seeds into my smoothies, oatmeal and yogurt to cover the nutrients. Instead of eating rice, try a rich whole grain like Quinoa instead. It actually cooks in less time! In the coming weeks, we’ll begin to discuss ways to gradually swap out our current eating habits with richer nutrient-rich alternatives.
Oh, and last but not least, the most moisturizing and hydrating contributor to your hair’s health is water! Drinking half your weight in ounces (i.e. if you weigh 180 lbs, drink at least 60 ounces) on a daily basis will have you looking and feeling great in no time! I usually buy those big water bottles at Target that have the measurements so I can keep track of my intake. So the next time you’re wondering why your scalp is still dry or why your hair is so brittle, no matter what you seem to put in it, try breaking down your food plate and make sure you’re truly taking care of your body from the inside out. It’s true when they say, “You are what you eat!”