Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hair Food: Nutrition for Growth and Strength

   Recently, I read a wonderful article in Natural Awakenings, written by Judith Fertig in which she discusses nutrition and hair in a very thoughtful and detailed way.  So, here, I will summarize the key points because I think it is very useful for N.I.C.E. readers.  First, it is important to understand that what is good for your body is good for your hair. According to Dr. Michael Reed, a dermatologist from NYU "foods that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates with a reduced fat content" work for your hair as well, per the Fertig article. So, what kind of diet is great for scalp and hair.  A N.I.C.E. list is found below  (per Judith Fertig):
1. Vitamin A-  How do you get it?  Green Leafy Vegetables such as Spinach and Swiss Chard. Carrots also provide it.  This will be helpful to the production of Sebum, produced by the scalp and hair's natural conditioner.

2. Vitamin B 12: How do you get it?  Organic eggs, cage-free poultry and grass fed red meat are all good sources. If you are vegan or vegetarian, try nutritional yeast (dried yellow flakes or powder with a cheese-like flavor), Vitamin B-12 fortified soy or rice milk, and similarly fortified breakfast cereal.  According to Registered Dietician Reed Mangels, this vitamin is "needed for cell division and blood formation".

3. Iron: How do you get it? Broccoli and Brewer's Yeast. Women in their reproductive years, according to Samantha Heller, a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist at NYU, per Fertig's article, may have a deficiency of iron that can lead to anemia and hair loss. 
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids:  How do you get it?  Flaxseed, hemp milk and seeds, walnuts, soy, canola oil and fish.  These are important for total body and skin health, including your scalp according to Samantha Heller, the author of Get Smart: Samantha Heller's Nutrition Prescription for Boosting Brain Power and Optimizing Total Body Health. 

5. Protein: How do you get it? Lentils and kidney beans, iron and bioton per Andrea Giancoli, a Registered Dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Protein helps with cell building, including hair. 
Caring for our natural hair is a wonderful process.  Eating healthy and ensuring that we get the right foods to nurture us is essential. Finding ways to provide nutrition for strength for our natural hair is part of embracing the understanding that N.I.C.E.!

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