The condition of your hair often reflects your internal health and for a vibrant head of hair it's essential to consume a nutrient-rich and varied diet. For maximised hair growth, give your body the resources it needs - protein, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. Smoking and drinking will have the opposite effect. It's true that the key to good looking hair is to stay as healthy as possible!
Try to incorporate all of the following ingredients into your daily diet to give your hair a boost.
• Vitamin E - this fat-based vitamin gives your hair essential protection from sun damage and will help to keep it glossy and shiny. One of the best sources is nuts, which also contain zinc and selenium - two more powerhouses for healthy looking hair.
• Vitamin C - this superstar vitamin performs so many essential roles within the body. One which is particularly relevant to hair, though, is that it aids the absorption of iron. Anaemia can have a catastrophic effect on the health of your hair, and Vitamin C has a role to play. Furthermore, the antioxidants it brings to the body are vital for hair health and it helps in the production of collagen. Get a daily dose of vitamin C from berries, broccoli, oranges, kiwi fruit, papaya or sweet potatoes.
• Biotin - one of the B vitamins, biotin is important for hair strength. A lack of it, although rare, will result in brittle and shedding hair. Maintain your levels by eating egg yolk, soya, yeast, liver and whole grains.
• Protein - as the prime constituent of the hair shaft, a protein rich diet is naturally a pre-cursor to a healthy head of hair. If there isn't enough protein in your diet, your hair will become weak, brittle and dry. Eggs, fish, poultry and dairy products are excellent sources of protein for meat-eaters, while vegans and vegetarians can get protein from pulses and nuts.
• Vitamin A - is an essential constituent of sebum. This is the oily coating secreted by the sebaceous glands in the hair follicles and it acts a natural conditioner and protector of the scalp and hair. A lack of Vitamin A may lead to an itchy, flaky scalp and dry hair. Eat animal products or orange and yellow vegetables that are high in its pre-cursor, beta-carotene.
• Zinc and selenium - these minerals protect the scalp and maintain the integrity of the hair. Look for fortified cereals and whole grains, oysters, beef, Brazil nuts and eggs.
• Fish oil - the omega 3 fat contained in fish oil will keep your hair lustrous and hydrated and your scalp in good condition. You'll need to eat oily fish such as mackerels, sardines and salmon, or you can get other omega 3 oils from walnuts, pumpkin seeds and avocado.
• Iron - if your body is anaemic, ie deficient in iron, you are likely to suffer hair loss as the body will fail to deliver all the required nutrients to the hair follicle. Red meat is the best source of bio-available iron, but vegetarians can get it from lentils, spinach and vegetables of the brassica family - cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.