By Bea Johnson for Yahoo! Singapore
Your hair, like your skin, reflects your body’s health.
If you are not following a healthy diet your hair can lose its shine and become dull and brittle. So for healthy hair, close the bathroom cabinet and open the fridge.
The basis of all of new growth – be it hair, skin or nails – is the nutrients we ingest. A well-balanced diet that includes plenty of growth-promoting proteins and nutrients can make a big difference to your overall health and appearance.
Good hair nutrition begins with getting enough protein - the building block of hair. Then you need complex carbohydrates to help assemble the proteins for hair growth. Iron is one of the most important minerals for hair growth, and other good vitamins and minerals for healthy hair include B complex, folic acid, B12 and zinc.
Here are some foods rich in healthy hair nutrients:
Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids. These are considered essential fatty acids: they are necessary for human health but the body cannot make them – they need to be ingested through food. They are needed to support scalp health and a deficiency can result in a dry scalp, giving hair a dull look. Salmon is also a high-quality protein source and filled with vitamin B-12 and iron.
If you are a vegetarian, instead of eating fish, include two tablespoons of ground flaxseed in your diet for some plant-based omega-3 fats.
Dark green vegetables like spinach and broccoli are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, which your body needs to produce sebum. Sebum is the oil produced by your hair follicles and your hair's natural conditioner. Dark green vegetables also provide iron and calcium.
Legumes like kidney beans and lentils are an important part of a good hair-care regime. Not only do they provide lots of protein to promote hair growth, but iron, zinc, and biotin.
Nuts are not only a great snack, but full of nutritional benefits as well. Brazil nuts are one of nature's best sources of selenium; an important mineral for a healthy scalp. They are also a source of zinc, as are cashews, pecans, and almonds. A zinc deficiency can lead to hair shedding, so for that reason alone make sure nuts are included in your diet. Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that can help condition your hair.
Chicken provides high-quality protein without which hair can become weak and brittle. It also supplies easily absorbed iron.
Eggs are another great source of protein and they also contain biotin and vitamin B-12; important beauty nutrients.
Whole grains such as those found in whole-wheat bread and fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals will provide hair with a healthy dose of zinc, iron and B vitamins.
Low-fat dairy products like skimmed milk and yogurt are good sources of calcium, an important mineral for hair growth. They also contain whey and casein, two high-quality protein sources.
Carrots are a potent source of vitamin A, which promotes a healthy scalp: essential for a shiny, well-conditioned head of hair.
Even though you can cheat and buy beauty supplements, try to get the nutrients you need from foods whenever possible. Not only is it healthier, but in rare cases, an excess of certain nutrients, such as vitamin A, has been linked to hair loss. On the whole, nothing in excess and a good, balanced diet should keep your tresses full of health and shine.