What follows is a list of “superfoods” that contain high levels of nutrients that benefit hair health and may help hair growth. If you read nicehair.org you’ll see many articles explaining how different nutrients, including biotin, amino acids, iron and branch chain amino acids, support hair growth in specific, proven ways.
So this isn’t just some list. Each of the foods on this page contain high levels of nutrients that have been clinically proven to support hair growth and even help reduce hair loss. And all of the nutrients mentioned in this article have been shown in scientific studies to have a positive effect on hair growth. Citations to those studies are provided.
Chicken eggs (and other similar bird eggs, such as duck) are the richest source of cystine. Cystine is turned into cysteine by the body. Cysteine is a key amino acid for hair growth – in fact it’s the largest component amino acid found in hair keratin. So it’s actually one of the main building blocks of hair.
Top 5 sources of cystine:
Further reading at Self.com.
Eggs really are a superfood for hair growth.
Please note: Although peanuts are the richest source of biotin, you should attain biotin from a good variety of sources and you should only eat peanuts in moderation as they are very rich!
Here we see the top 5 richest sources of biotin:
|Food||Calories||% daily recommended intake|
Data source: WHFoods
In a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study published in 2014 on 76 men suffering androgenic alopecia (the most common form of hair loss), most men had more hair after treatment than at baseline, compared to the placebo group. The men were given pumpkin seed oil, which has “anti-androgen” properties. In other words it reduces the amount of DHT present in the body. DHT is the hormone that causes hair loss.
Source: US National Library of Medicine.
Shellfish like clams, mussels, oysters and mollusks
“Hair loss due to low ferritin is one of the most common types of hair loss we see in women.”
Zoe Passam, Phillip Kinglsey Trichologist http://www.philipkingsley.co.uk/hair-guide/latest-from-the-clinic/ferritin-and-hair-health/
“Ferritin” is the name given to iron stored in the body.
Source: Iron rich foods on Web MD.
Also check out the Ten Foods Highest in B Vitamins.
Watermelon is rich in the amino acid citrulline, which is converted into arginine by the body.
This is a precursor for nitric oxide, and the nitric oxide will help in blood vessel dilation.
This is key for hair health because your scalp contains tiny blood vessels that connect to every growing hair. In order for hair to grow these blood vessels need to be healthy and the blood needs to flow freely to the hair, delivering amino acids needed to bnuild new keratin.
Orange juice is the item 7nth highest in vitamin C, according to nutritiondata.self.com:
|Acerola, (west indian cherry), raw||Vitamin C: 1677mg|
|Acerola juice, raw||Vitamin C: 1600mg|
|Guavas, common, raw||Vitamin C: 228mg|
|Litchis, dried [lychee]||Vitamin C: 183mg|
|Currants, european black, raw||Vitamin C: 181mg|
|Guava sauce, cooked||Vitamin C: 146mg|
|Orange juice, frozen concentrate, unsweetened, undiluted||Vitamin C: 138mg|
View more foods high in vitamin C at Self.com.
Although there are other fruits higher in vitamin C content than orange, most people will find it easier to get hold of oranges. Why is vitamin C important for hair growth? Vitamin C helps improve cardiovascular health. It may increase flexibility of blood vessels and help improve blood flow. This is key for hair growth because the nutrients needed for hair growth are delivered to the hair via the blood stream. By improving the health of blood vessels it may improve the health of the hair.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Dark green leafy vegetables are a good source of vitamin A, iron and essential fatty acids. Finner (2013) highlighted hair loss as one of the results of deficiency of essential fatty acids, proteins, minerals and vitamins.
Carrots are a major source of beta-carotene, a nutrient that the body converts into vitamin A. Lack of this vitamin is associated with hair loss as shown in figure 1 below (Gill, 1945).
Figure 1: A: Patch of Alopecia; C: Hair grew back after treatment with Vitamin A (Gill, 1945)
Lean Beef is high in iron and protein. Park et al (2013) state that iron deficiency is one of the most widely cited nutritional cause of hair loss.
If you’re vegetarian, lentils are a good way to attain protein. Lentils are also a source of iron, which is used by the body to help in the transport of oxygenated blood cells around the body. See Iron for Hair Growth: A Complete Guide for more information.
See also Top 10 Vegetables Highest in Iron.
If you’re vegetarian I also recommend reading 20 Vegetarian & Vegan Foods High in Vitamin B12.
Fish – Particularly Oily Fish
Fish are a good source of vitamin D, biotin and essential fatty acids while fish liver oil is rich in vitamin A. Sirka & Dulte (2003) cited that the deficiency of biotin, essential fatty acids is associated with hair loss.
Fish are one of the best sources of branch chain amino acids, which are key for hair growth. Check out BCAAs for Hair Growth: a Complete Guide for full details.
It’s a good idea to consume a portion of oily fish once or twice per week. Oily fish is a good source of omega 3 (an essential fatty acid (EFA)). EFAs are key to good health and hair growth. Here’s a quote from Dr Tori Hudson, a Naturopathic Physician, Author, Educator and Researcher, who’s been blogging about health since 2006:
Estimates have been given that approximately 80% of Americans consume a diet deficient in essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids play an important role in producing hormones, cell membrane function, regulating pain, inflammation and swelling, dilating or constricting blood vessels.
Dr Tori Hudson
Yellow and orange fruits
Yellow and orange fruits such as mangoes, peaches and apricots are rich in vitamin A. Lack of vitamin A causes hair loss (Gill, 1945).
Cold Pressed EFA oil
Cold pressed seed oils such as flax seed, hemp seed and pumpkin seed oils, are rich in essential fatty acids. Linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid, showed hair growth-promoting effects in a study by Choi et al (2014). It is also widely believed to help reduce DHT, which may prevent and even reverse male pattern baldness.
Check out Best Organic Cold-Pressed Omega Oil Products (EFAs) to see the world’s best products.
How to use EFA oil in food
Please make sure you don’t heat EFA oil. Use it cold on cold food such as salads. When heated the oils delicate molecular structure becomes unstable in a chemical reaction that releases free radicals. This is why EFA oils are almost always produced by “cold pressing” seeds – crushing seeds to release their oils without increasing their temperature. If an EFA oil is not labelled cold pressed, don’t use it.
Legumes have iron and are a major source of protein. A diet with insufficient protein results in hair loss (Blackburn & Bistrian, 1977).
Liver is high in iron, biotin and vitamin A. Rasheed et al (2013) stated that low iron levels are associated with hair loss in women with Telogen Effluvium (a hair shedding disease) and Female Pattern Hair Loss.
References and further reading
- Blackburn, G.L. and Bistrian, B.R., Hair Loss With Rapid Weight Loss, Archives of Dermatology, 1977; 113(2):234
- Choi, J., Jeon, M., Moon, W., Cheon, E.J., Kim, J., Jung, S.K., Ji, Y., Son, S.W. and Kim, M., In Vivo Hair Growth Promoting Effect Of Rice Bran Extract Prepared By Supercritical Carbon dioxide Fluid, Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 2014; 37(1):44-53
- Finner, A.M., Nutrition And Hair: Deficiencies And supplements, Dermatology Clinics, 2013 Jan (31(1):167-172
- Gill, S., Alopecia Circumscripta Due To Vitamin A Deficiency – Report Of A Case, Journal of The American Medical Association Dermatology, Archives of Dermatology and Syphilology, 1945; 51(2):110-111
- Kaimal, S. and Thappa, D.M., diet In Dermatology: Revisited, Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, 2010 Mar; 76(2):103-115
- Park, S.Y., Na, S.E., Kim, J.H., Cho, S., Lee, J.H., Iron Plays A Certain Role In Patterned Hair Loss, Journal of Korean Medical Science, 2013 Jun; 28(6):934-938
- Rasheed, H., Mahqoub, D., El-Komy, M., Abdel Hay, R., Hamid, M.A. and Hamdy, E., Serum Ferritin and Vitamin D In Female Hair Loss: Do They Play A Role?, Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2013; 26(2):101-107
- Sirka, C.S. and Dulte, B., Diet in Dermatology, Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, 2003; 69(2):196-197