Hair is made of keratin which is a type of protein so obviously the body needs adequate protein to grow hair. Protein our diet is broken down in the body to amino acids which are then rearranged to form new proteins as required. An adequate supply of protein in our diet is necessary, not just for hair growth, but also for general body growth and repair. An adult should consume about 15-25 grams of protein daily. An inadequate supply of protein in the diet can force hair into the resting stage, followed by hair shedding a few months later. The best sources of dietary protein are lean meat, fish, eggs, cheese, soy, nuts, beans, pulses and seeds.
Carbohydrates are an essential source of energy and therefore necessary for the growth of body tissues, including hair. They are also an important source of the B vitamins that are vital for hair health. It is much better for your health to concentrate on consuming non-refined carbohydrates rather than the sugars and white flour that are so prevalent in our foods today. You should try to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and brown rice. 30-40% of daily energy comes from consumption of carbohydrates.
Fat is used in energy production also, and can be found in different types in both animal and plant foods. A certain amount of fat is required for proper brain and nerve function, and also for absorption of certain fat soluble vitamins. In general, unsaturated fats are healthier than saturated, and artificially manipulated fats such as trans-fats, should be avoided altogether.
In order to get the right nutritional balance it is best to eat a variety of foods. That way you will be more likely to get all the vitamins and minerals you need without having to resort to supplements. There are a number of micro-nutrients that are only required in small amounts by our bodies, but they are required. For good, healthy hair growth it is necessary to be able to absorb the following from one’s diet: vitamin B6, B12, biotin, inositol, folic acid, vitamin C, magnesium, sulphur, silica and zinc. Beta-carotene is also important to hair growth. This is because beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A as the body needs it, helps maintain normal growth and bone development, protective sheathing around nerve fibres, as well as promoting healthy hair and nails. It really is amazing just how many different nutrients are necessary to maintain a healthy head of hair. A deficiency in any one can have a knock on effect and cause failure of hair follicles to reach their potential.
Whether or not you should supplement your diet with added vitamins and minerals is open to debate. If you truly eat a healthy varied diet with lots of fruit and vegetables you may not need to. It is possible that our modern intensive farming methods do not imbue our produce with the same amounts of micro-nutrients that they once did. It is probably quite acceptable then, to take a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement just to be sure your hair is getting all its needs.