The effect of diet on hair and scalp health is unclear. However, some studies suggest certain foods could increase the risk of hair loss, such as simple carbohydrates that include refined sugars and grains.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
It is normal to lose up to 100 hairs per day. Males, and to a lesser extent, females, will typically lose more hair with age. However, there are many possible causes of atypical hair loss, ranging from certain diseases to birth control pills.
A nutritious diet can affect many aspects of how the body functions. Some diets could also influence hair and scalp health, which may lead to hair loss.
Keep reading to learn more about foods that could cause hair loss or promote hair growth.
Eating high quantities of unhealthy foods or insufficient amounts of nutritious foods could worsen hair loss.
However, while nutritious anti-inflammatory foods could promote hair growth, limited evidence suggests less nutritious inflammatory foods may cause hair loss.
For example, some
Currently, existing research points more towards certain foods and nutrients being able to boost hair health than causing hair loss directly.
Foods with a potentially negative effect on hair health and growth include:
The authors suggest eating simple carbohydrates increases sebum production, an oily substance that the glands attached to hair follicles release. While sebum is beneficial for hair health, excess amounts can lead to inflammation that is harmful to hair health.
People should avoid eating too many simple carbohydrates, such as candy, cakes, and cookies. These foods also include refined grains, such as white rice, pasta, or bread. Complex carbohydrates are a more nutritious alternative that includes whole grains, beans, and vegetables.
Fish with high mercury content
Fried foods and red meat
Studies exploring the effect of diet on hair loss are still in the early stages. However, a
The following are some of the dietary recommendations:
- Protein: Proteins contain amino acids necessary for hair growth. Examples of protein sources include:
- cottage cheese
- seeds and nuts
- Healthy fats: Unsaturated fats hydrate the hair and may prevent hair loss. Some sources include:
- fatty fish, such as salmon
- flax seeds
- olive oil
- Vitamin C: A vitamin C deficiency may negatively affect the creation of hair shafts. Sources include:
- green, leafy vegetables
- citrus fruits
- Folate: This form of vitamin B stimulates the rebuilding of hair. Examples of folate sources include:
- Biotin: Biotin can promote hair growth. Sources include:
- egg yolk
- sweet potatoes
- sunflower seeds
- Niacin: This B vitamin is necessary for hair health. Some sources include:
- marinara sauce
- whole grains
- Iron: Insufficient iron can cause hair loss. Sources include:
- white beans
- dried apricots
Diet is one factor in preventing hair loss, but other practices that also might help include the below.
Avoiding hair-damaging products
The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) suggests products for coloring, relaxing, or perming the hair can have damaging effects and may cause hair loss.
Avoiding pulling hair
The AADA also states that hairstyles that pull the hair back tightly against the scalp can cause permanent hair loss. Pulling on the hair to relieve stress is also harmful.
Certain diets and specific foods may affect hair loss. For example, eating too many simple carbohydrates or fish high in mercury could increase this risk. Nutritious foods, especially those high in micronutrients, such as vitamins B and C, could prevent hair loss and improve hair health. These foods include leafy green vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
However, research in this area is still in its infancy. Following basic haircare tips, such as avoiding hair-damaging products, will also help reduce the risk of hair loss.