So let me start off this post by saying that my diet is by no means the perfect diet. I love sweets and I have a certain soft spot for Starbucks and Chick-fil-A. Nevertheless, I try to eat well most of the time. Additionally, there have been times in my life where my eating habits were terrible (mainly: undergrad and the 1st year of grad school) and it reflected in my hair. My diet (in addition to poor hair care practices) left my hair dull, brittle, thinning, and broken.
Below I will list certain healthy hair nutrients and foods you can eat to incorporate them into your diet. Please keep in mind that this list is not all inclusive. For the sake of length, I have chosen to keep it short and keep it to the basics.
Protein: We all know that protein is the building block of hair. Therefore, it makes sense to eat enough of it. Incorporating enough protein into your diet ensures that your hair is strong. If you find that your hair is brittle or weak, ensure that you are eating enough protein in addition to upping your protein based product use. Foods: Poultry, lean meats, Fish, Nuts/Seeds, Yogurt, Peanut Butter, Grains (like bread or pasta)
B Vitamins (Niacin, Panthenol, Vitamins B6 and B12,etc): These vitamins are essential for healthy hair growth and play a role in preventing hair loss/breakage. They can also help prevent premature graying. Foods: poultry, beef, fish, eggs, whole grains, beans, seeds, peas, nuts, leafy green vegetables, fortified breads and cereals.
Vitamin E: Plays a role in healthy circulation (increases oxygen uptake). Foods: asparagus, avocado, egg, spinach, whole grain foods.
Vitamin C: Plays a role in immune function, which ultimately leads to healthy hair (makes sense, when you are sick, you hair doesn't look its best). Also a cofactor in the synthesis of certain molecules (e.g.-collagen). Foods: Citrus, berries, kiwi
Vitamin A: Important at the level of your scalp-keeps hair follicle lubricated. Foods: Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Collard Greens, Mango, Broccoli
Biotin: This is another B vitamin but it is so essential to hair growth. It protects against dryness and helps in the elasticity of hair (which ultimately can reduce breakage). In addition, biotin deficiency can manifest itself as hair loss. Foods: Eggs, Liver
Minerals (Iron, Copper, Zinc, Magnesium): Some play roles in hair growth (Iron) while others play roles in hair loss (zinc, copper). Don't underestimate the importance of these minerals because they have huge roles in hair structure (at the protein level) and growth. Foods: Legumes, Poultry, Fortified breads and cereals, green leafy veggies like spinach
Water: Provides moisture to hair (self explanatory I suppose). Try to drink as much water (around 8 glasses daily, more if you are active).
To summarize, just pay close attention to what you are putting in your body. Learn how to read food labels and keep away from the junk foods as much as possible! Don't feel like you have to eat a set amount of healthy foods daily or that you have to deprive yourself. Just try to eat a healthy diet filled with various foods. Also, try to limit your sugar and caffeine intake (which isn't easy and is something I struggle with DAILY). Your hair will definitely thank you for it.