4 ESSENTIAL HAIR NUTRIENTS
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.
1. SILICA FOR STRENGTH
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.
2. FATTY ACIDS FOR SHINE
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.
3. IRON FOR THICKNESS
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.
4. LAURIC ACID FOR VOLUME
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.