HAIR loss can be troubling to both men and women as they age. It can affect self-image and self-confidence, causing some elderly to shun social functions.
Some may opt for expensive hair treatment packages, while others choose to accept it with a defeatist attitude. But, this need not be the only options.
Nutrition also plays a part and can help with hair growth, says Indra Balaratnam, consultant dietitian and founder of Indra Balaratnam Nutrition.
“Nutrition and a good diet certainly are contributing elements to your overall health, and that puts you in a better position to prevent hair loss. This you can see in people who eat very little, such as extreme dieters, who then end up deficient in certain important nutrients. The condition of their hair deteriorates and, as a result, hair loss is one of their main side effects.
“Good nutrition provides your hair and scalp with important nutrients to help the hair follicle grow strong and scalp that is moist and healthy. This helps the hair to grow properly right from the follicle by making the hair shaft stronger and more resilient,” she says.
According to her, protein helps because hair is primarily made up of proteins. Iron, Vitamins E and D and trace minerals such as selenium, copper and magnesium also help in hair growth.
Here are some foods that will help in hair growth:
- Fish such as salmon and sardines – good source of protein.
- Eggs – good source of protein.
- Chicken – good source of protein.
- Beans such as kidney beans, garbanzo beans – good source of protein and iron.
- Nuts and seeds such as almonds and pumpkin seeds – good source of protein, Vitamin E and trace minerals.
- Beef – good source of iron.
- Lamb – good source of iron.
- Dark leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale – good source of iron and trace minerals.
- Milk – good source of Vitamin D and trace minerals.
- Grains such as barley and oats – good source of Vitamin D and trace minerals.
According to Indra, good nutrition for hair health is similar for men and women. The causes for hair loss doesn’t really matter when it comes to getting the best nutrition to minimise hair loss and to encourage hair growth.
However, if the hair loss is caused by a hormone imbalance, as in the case of women going through menopause, Indra recommends seeing a gynaecologist.
“Hormone imbalances require a thorough check up by the appropriate doctor for a proper diagnosis. To avoid hair loss due to hormones, then you should treat the the main cause of it which is your hormones. But otherwise, the same nutritional sense and sensibility of eating the foods rich in these nutrients that benefit hair prevails,” says Indra.
According to her, an insufficient diet that is too low in calories and nutrients can cause hair loss in the long run. However, occasionally having a fat-free cookie will do no harm as long as it doesn’t cause you to not get enough nutrition overall.
“Vitamins A, B and C are also nutrients that help with overall health and for body function. A healthy body will ensure good proper hair growth,” she adds.
While coconut oil is all the craze these days, Indra warns not to overdo it. According to her, coconut oil as a fat source in the diet provides essential fatty acids which the body cannot make on its own but needs to get from the diet for the good health of the body. While it is not a miracle oil, it is a beneficial fat that is required as part of the fat intake, but more is not necessarily better.
She informs that it is best to get a firm foundation of nutrition from eating well. That is pretty much all you will need to do to get the nutrients for hair health.
“Plus, when you eat real foods, you not only get the nutrients but also sufficient calories to keep your weight at a healthy level. You don’t want to end up like those people who go on an extreme diet and end up paying the price of losing their voluminous head of hair,” says Indra.