Sunday Mail - Body and Soul - - FRONT PAGE -

Com­pared to the lux­u­ri­ously glossy coat of a Siberian husky or the slinky fur of a Per­sian cat, hu­mans have a rel­a­tive paucity of hair. De­spite this, many women (and men) de­vote an in­or­di­nate amount of time and money to their locks. In fact, a re­cent UK poll found that the av­er­age woman spends 10 days a year “do­ing” her hair. But no mat­ter how much prod­uct you use, or how well it’s styled, if you’re de­fi­cient in cer­tain nu­tri­ents, your hair won’t look its best.


The min­eral sil­ica helps cre­ate strong con­nec­tive tis­sue in lig­a­ments, nails, skin and hair. Lev­els di­min­ish with age, which ex­plains why hair loses its bounce and re­silience. Sil­ica is found in abun­dance in soil, and good sources in­clude whole grains such as oats (that’s why horses fed oats have shiny coats), mil­let, brown rice, let­tuce, cu­cum­ber and dark leafy greens. Al­falfa sprouts and the herb horse­tail also have high lev­els. You can take sil­ica as a sup­ple­ment in gel, liq­uid or tablet form.


Ev­ery hair fol­li­cle con­tains se­ba­ceous glands that pro­duce se­bum, a waxy oil made from fatty acids that lubri­cates and pro­tects the strand. Princesses of old were said to have brushed their locks with 100 strokes be­fore bed, thereby dis­tribut­ing the se­bum along the length of each hair. If your diet is de­fi­cient in es­sen­tial fatty acids, this will re­sult in dry and dull-look­ing hair. To boost its glossi­ness to that of a princess, eat foods that con­tain good fatty acids such as wal­nuts, ground flaxseed, co­conut oil, olive oil, fish and av­o­ca­dos.


If you no­tice your hair is thin­ning, you could be low in iron. Iron de­fi­ciency anaemia is the most com­mon of all nutritional de­fi­cien­cies. The most telling symp­tom is fa­tigue, but it can also re­sult in hair loss. Add iron-rich foods to your diet, such as lentils, dark green leafy veg, prunes and red meat. A herbal iron sup­ple­ment in liq­uid form will help to boost your lev­els with­out caus­ing con­sti­pa­tion. Be­fore tak­ing a sup­ple­ment, have a blood test to find out if you’re de­fi­cient as too much iron can be as bad for you as too lit­tle.


Lau­ric acid, the pre­dom­i­nant fatty acid in co­conut oil, has an affin­ity for hair pro­tein and, un­like other oils, it’s able to pen­e­trate the hair shaft, in­creas­ing vol­ume and adding lus­tre. For dam­aged and dry hair (and a dry scalp), mas­sage a cou­ple of ta­ble­spoons of co­conut oil into your hair and scalp, leave overnight for best re­sults, then wash out with sham­poo. Also try adding co­conut oil to cur­ries and stir-fries.

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