Feed your scalp. How to nourish your hair from within.
When it comes to maintaining lustrous locks and a healthy scalp, many people focus solely on external hair care products, which of course are important.
However, while the use of mild shampoos, conditioners, and hair masks can certainly contribute to hair health, you can't buy hair food in a jar, the truth is that what you put inside your body plays an equally crucial role. We asked registered dietician, Imogen Tingay what her top 3 ingredients are for healthy locks from within.
We explore the top three nutrients that can help you achieve that enviable, vibrant mane and learn why they’re so vital.
“Your diet plays a significant role in determining the health of your scalp and hair. For optimum results my top 3 nutrients would be; B vitamins found in vegetables and nuts, lean protein found in fish, legumes and eggs and omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish, hemp seeds and walnuts.”
1. B Vitamins: The foundation for strong, beautiful hair
B vitamins are essential for maintaining healthy hair and a nourished scalp. These water-soluble vitamins, including B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), and B12 (cobalamin), play a vital role in the overall health of your hair follicles.
“You can find B vitamins in a variety of foods, particularly vegetables and nuts. Leafy greens like spinach and kale are rich in folate (B9), while almonds and sunflower seeds provide a healthy dose of biotin (B7). Legumes such as lentils and chickpeas are also packed with various B vitamins.”
B Vitamins help to promote hair growth. Biotin (B7) and pantothenic acid (B5) are especially important for hair growth. They help strengthen hair follicles, reduce hair loss, and improve overall hair quality.
B vitamins are also known to help maintain a healthy scalp by reducing dandruff and itchiness, promoting a balanced sebum production, and supporting blood circulation to the scalp.
2. Lean Proteins: Building blocks for stronger hair
Proteins are the building blocks of life, and they are equally vital for maintaining strong, healthy hair. Hair is primarily composed of a protein called keratin, so ensuring an adequate intake of protein in your diet is essential for its health and vitality.
“Incorporate lean protein sources such as fish, legumes, and eggs into your diet. Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are not only excellent sources of protein but also provide Omega-3 fatty acids.”
Legumes like beans and lentils are vegetarian-friendly protein sources, and eggs are a versatile option rich in essential amino acids.
Protein-rich foods provide the necessary amino acids to build and repair damaged hair. This can help build stronger and more resilient strands. Adequate protein intake can also help to reduce hair breakage and split ends, leading to healthier-looking hair too.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Unlocking a key to scalp and hair wellness
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that your body cannot produce on its own, making dietary intake crucial. These fats offer a wide range of health benefits, including promoting scalp and hair health.
Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include oily fish like salmon, trout, and sardines; which are excellent sources of Omega-3s.
“If you’re looking for a vegetarian option include hemp seeds and walnuts, both of which are rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based Omega-3 fatty acid.”
Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe an irritated scalp, potentially reducing dandruff and itchiness too. These fats contribute to hair's natural sheen and lustre by nourishing the hair shaft and maintaining moisture balance.
Incorporating B vitamins, lean protein, and omega-3 fatty acids into your diet can significantly improve the health of your scalp and hair from the inside out – combine this with a performance haircare line, like Olsson Haircare that focuses on the health and vitality of your scalp (skin) and you’re sure be in for haircare happiness.
"Remember, true hair health starts with what you feed your body, so be sure to prioritise these nutrients in your daily meals for a beautiful and thriving mane."
Imogen Tingay is a Registered Dietitian, specialising in allergies, gut health and skin health. IT Dietetics is a consultancy that helps people to heal from their allergies and conditions with a focus on food and lifestyle.
Living with TSW (topical steroid withdrawal)? Imogen also holds a Topical Steroid Masterclass, which is a survival guide for this debilitating condition.
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