Nutrition for hair growth

Hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, childbirth, discontinuing the use of birth control pills and menopause can all cause temporary hair loss. Medical conditions that can cause hair loss include thyroid disease, alopecia areata (an autoimmune disease that attacks hair follicles), and scalp infections like ringworm and lack of physical exercise. 

Whilst this all sounds really scary, there is a holistic approach we can take through nutrition and lifestyle adjustments, to support prevention before cure with hair loss.

My hair story

I was born with curly hair, and I really liked it when I was much younger, but for the last ten years or so, I started straightening it regularly as I think it suits me better now. I purchased a good quality set of hair straighteners and started using it weekly - more than once some weeks.

Whilst on women with wavy hair it is enough to go through every strand only once, with my hair, I used to have to go through every strand at least three times as my hair is very curly. 

One Saturday evening I was doing my hair in my bedroom, and when I finished, I looked down and I was horrified to see that my very light cream carpet was covered with my jet black hair! I have never used the straighteners again. I have come to the conclusion that I should be happy with what I have! If I want my hair straight for a special occasion then I go to the hairdresser. I tried a pair of straighteners and an electric brush and I have regretted it ever since.   

Food for hair loss

When you make a mistake (we all do) act immediately as it will prevent the situation from getting out of control. I immediately introduced more of the following:

  • eggs for protein
  • spinach and other dark leafy greens for iron
  • citrus fruits to get my dose of vitamin C
  • nuts and seeds for omega-3 fatty acids 
  • whole grains to obtain biotin
  • carrots because they are rich in vitamin A                                          

How figs support hair growth

I was aware that figs contain hair-friendly nutrients like magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin E which promotes hair growth. The essential nutrients present in this fruit stimulate blood circulation in the scalp to accelerate hair growth. I never had any problems with my hair when I lived in Sardinia as we had three different types of figs in our garden! I try to eat figs whenever possible but there is a fig vitamin also available. 

Figs are one the oldest fruits consumed by humans. Some scholars even believe that the forbidden fruit picked by Eve was a fig and not an apple. How about that? Figs are even mentioned in the Bible as a sign of peace and prosperity. I could write a book only on figs, but instead, I am going to list 10 health benefits of eating figs. Here goes:

  • enhances digestive health
  • lowers cholesterol
  • lowers sugar levels in diabetic patients
  • rich in antioxidants
  • regulates high blood pressure
  • treats asthma
  • good source of energy
  • boosts the immune system
  • rejuvenates your skin
  • conditions and promotes hair growth

A plate of figs on toast

How to help hair regrow naturally

Learning to take responsibility for your health is always recommended, as a healthy body means healthy hair, glowing skin, and strong nails. Here are six tips to promote hair growth:

1. Manage your stress levels

This can be difficult but exercise, in any form, helps reduce stress. Exercise increases blood flow and circulation and the nutrients and oxygen also help hair growth.

2. Invest in silk pillowcases

Another tip I discovered some years ago is to sleep on silk. It is the ultimate luxury, and it is amazing for hair and skin. Cotton will absorb the moisture of your skin and hair while silk will let you retain your moisture. Cotton will also give you those sleep creases which take all day to go - this does not happen with silk. I highly recommend it. If it's possible for you, it's worth investing in a silk bed set, but if not, try to get a couple of pillowcases.

3. Wash your hair once a week

It's not recommended to wash your hair too often (twice a week max) as you can remove your scalp's natural oils. If you can resist going one entire week without washing your hair, it will be silky and shiny when you eventually wash it. 

4. Try castor oil

Once a week I used to apply castor oil on my scalp. Because castor oil is pink in colour, I used to cover it with a shower cap and sleep with it overnight. If you do this make sure you also cover your pillowcase as the oil goes everywhere, however when you wash your hair the following morning your hair is shiny and soft.

5. Know your vitamins

Vitamin C also helps support collagen synthesis, a natural antioxidant that supports hair growth. Try to include these five key nutrients: biotin, vitamin C, copper, zinc and beta carotene.

6. Embrace your natural hair

Stay away from electrical remedies, save your money, and treat yourself to the hairdresser for a special occasion. If something comes up unexpectedly and I have to go out and I am having a bad hair day, I put on a hat. 

When you notice that you are losing your hair, or your nails are brittle, and your skin is dull and dry, that is a wake-up call. Your body is telling you that it's lacking important vitamins and minerals.

Medication for hair growth

I am not a fan of medicines, but my hair loss situation was drastic, so I started taking Biotin 5000ug (also helps with skin and nails) together with Minoxidil 5% (Regaine). Now Minoxidil 5% is advised for men and women. If you googled it, it would say 2% for women but this is no longer true which is good news for women. I apply 1ml in the morning and 1ml in the evening on my scalp. Moving forward though, and for prevention rather than cure, it is important that every vitamin you get is made from food. 

N.B. Please note that more recently it is 5% Minoxidil for women as well as men. Finasteride can also be used and it works on men by suppressing testosterone. Have you ever asked yourself why a fair amount of men at the gym are bald? By training so hard they produce a lot of testosterone. High testosterone levels can increase hair loss.

Ladies we also produce some testosterone. Finasteride studies have shown that some women have retained their hair by taking the drug. If you are considering taking a supplement or medication, it's always important to consult your doctor or nutrition professional before doing so.                  

Working with a nutritionist 

When you notice that you are losing your hair, or your nails are brittle, and your skin is dull and dry, that is a wake-up call. Your body is telling you that it's lacking important vitamins and minerals. Your nutritionist will help you to identify the problem by recommending appropriate tests for your condition and advising on a personalised diet and supplement programme to resolve the issue.

This article has been taken from the book I am writing. In my book, I give the natural and the medical approach as needed. I hope you find this article useful.

To your health.

Milvia  

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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London N14 & W1G

Written by Milvia Pili - DLN, FNTP, Dip AIT, Dip LCLI, LCS

London N14 & W1G

Hello, my name is Milvia and I am an FNTP Accredited Nutritional Therapist who helps individuals to live naturally longer and healthier lives. With professional nutritional support, I have helped my clients with various challenges including but not limited to: weight management, digestion and bowel...

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