Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hair We Grow Again


Who among us doesn’t want beautiful hair?  Well, beautiful hair translates to healthy hair.  If our hair is healthy, whether it’s curly, straight, short, long or in between it all, it will look good and feel good.   These days, we not only have to deal with the normal challenges of healthy hair, there are pollutants in the air; chemicals in shampoos and preservatives in our food that add to the struggle.

First, let’s examine the reasons for unhealthy hair:

·         Poor nutrition

·         Zinc Deficiency

·         Fungus

·         Yeast Infections

·         High use of alkaline shampoo

·         Stress

·         Iron Deficiency

·         Thyroid Disease*

NUTRITION

Although it is important for health to drink lots of water and eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals, there are certain supplements that are essential for healthy, beautiful hair.  Some of these include Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, zinc, iron, selenium, protein, and alpha-linoleic acid.

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to the hair follicles, as they help make them stronger, shinier and grow faster.  A deficiency of Omega-3 fatty acids can result in a dry scalp. 

Some foods that are rich in Omega-3 are catfish, spinach, cod, clams, salmon, sardines, halibut, albacore, herring, trout, walnuts, canola oil, light chunk tuna and flaxseed oil.  It is possible to take supplements but it’s best to get it through food and only use supplements as additional help.

VITAMIN A

Vitamin A is integral for the growth and maintenance of hair and  promotes a healthy scalp.  A healthy scalp is essential for shiny, well-conditioned hair. It also regulates the production of retinoic acid in the hair follicle.  Along with Vitamin C, it helps producer sebum, which is secreted by hair follicles, and works as a natural hair conditioner.  It can be taken internally or applied directly to the hair shaft and massaged into the scalp.

Some great sources of Vitamin A include liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, broccoli, cantaloupe, milk, dried apricots, mozzarella cheese and mangoes.

VITAMIN B

Stress has been known to cause hair loss.  Vitamin B not only helps the body handle stress but one of the B Vitamins, Inositol, has been shown to speed hair growth.  B12 also helps prevent hair loss because it is an element of the hair itself.  B vitamins are best if they are taken together as B-Complex.

B vitamins are found in foods like meat, eggs, beans, liver, whole grain, potatoes, spinach, oranges and lamb.

VITAMIN C

Iron is also needed to grow hair and vitamin C helps the body absorb iron.  Vitamin C is necessary for collagen production, which is necessary for connective tissue maintenance and repair.  Collagen-rich connective tissue is present in hair follicles.  Since the body does not make its own vitamin C, the only way to get it is through foods and supplements. 

Vitamin C-rich foods include lemons, limes, rose hips, bells peppers, kiwi, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and guavas.  The recommended daily dose of vitamin C is 1000 to 2000 mg a daily.

VITAMIN D

Vitamin D stimulates the hair follicle and the cells that for the hair shaft, which reduces hair loss.  As a result, deficiencies of vitamin D can cause flaky scalp and psoriasis.  And, as we already know, a healthy scalp is essential for healthy hair.  So vitamin D is extra important because it affects the hair shaft and scalp.

Some foods that are rich in Vitamin D include fish oil, cod liver, herring, catfish, oysters, salmon, soy milk, milk, orange juice and cereal.

VITAMIN E

Vitamin E is one of the most important vitamins that your hair relies on for health and appearance.  It ensures that the blood in your scalp circulates normally and is a fat-soluble vitamin that increases the shine of your hair as it grows.  Deficiencies can cause the hair to be brittle and dull.

One way to increase your intake is by taking a vitamin-E supplement or to try adding raw nuts and seeds, beans, wheat-germ oil and green leafy vegetables to your daily diet. 

ZINC

Zinc has antioxidant properties that are essential to the immune system.  It helps prevent some types of hair loss by strengthening hair follicles. 

Foods that contain zinc include oysters, red meat, poultry, shellfish, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, garlic, sesame seeds, wheat germ and chickpeas.

IRON

Low levels of iron can lead to anemia.  Since anemia may have underlying conditions, such as overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), which are known to cause hair loss, it’s important to have iron to fight the anemic effect of the thyroid issue.

Foods that are high in iron include red meat, egg yolks, dark, leafy greens, dried fruit, iron-enriched cereals and grains, oysters, clams, scallops, turkey or chicken giblets, beans, lentils, chick peas, soybeans, liver and artichokes.

SELENIUM

Selenium is an antioxidant that helps rid the body of the harmful effects of exposure to the sun and the environment.  It is also important for supporting your body’s ability to maintain proper functions, like hair growth, and enhances your immune system.

Selenium can be found in foods like Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, tuna, halibut, sardines,oysters meat, butter, garlic, poultry, eggs, mushrooms, whole grains and onions.

ALPHA-LINOLEIC ACID

Just as Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid so is alpha-linoleic acid.  They form a barrier on our hair against loss of moisture and serve as a conditioner.  Fatty acids have been shown to improve the growth of hair as well.

Foods that contain alpha-linoleic acid include flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybeans, soybean oil, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil, perilla seed oil, tofu, walnuts and walnut oil.

Of course, in addition to the importance of eating a well-balanced diet that include these and other supplements necessary for health, most are available in vitamin-type form to be taken orally.  There are also natural products that can be put on the hair to maintain its look and health.


HAIR PRODUCTS

Just as you need natural vitamins and supplements inside for healthy picturesque hair, the best needs to be used on the outside as well.  Most manufactured shampoos have ingredients that are actually bad for your hair.  Some of these include Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Xylene Sulfonate, TEA Lauryl Sulfate, Sulfur (in dandruff shampoos) and Selenium Sulfide (in dandruff shampoos).  You can either take a list (which does contain more ingredients than this) and read all the labels at the store, or you can find homeopathic/natural shampoos and save yourself the time and aggravation.

What should you use on your hair?

COCONUT OIL

Sun exposure, pollutants, blow drying and hair coloring tends to strip the hair of its natural oils.  Coconut oil delivers a simple and natural remedy for scalp and hair health.  The high saturated fat content of coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides which, according to Organic Facts, integrates well with the structure of     hair.  Virgin coconut oil, rather than refined, is best because it maintains its antioxidant benefits, as well as, vitamins E and K.

Coconut oil adds shine and vivacity to hair, in addition to keeping your scalp healthy; and hair free from lice and their eggs. 

BIOTIN

Biotin, also known as Vitamin H, part of the B complex group, aids in the process of food into energy to elevate healthy hair.  Biotin prevents hair loss and dry and scaling scalp, caused by seborrheic dermatitis, which results from Biotin deficiencies.  Biotin maintains strength and texture of hair by fighting splitting and brittle hair. 

TEA TREE OIL

Tea Tree Oil, native to Australia, has many uses for overall health and well-being, including hair.  Its antiseptic properties assist in the removal of build-up on the hair shaft, caused by minerals from water and product usage.  It also removes dandruff and excessive dead cells on the scalp; and helps clear clogged hair follicles, which normalizes pH balance in the hair, allowing inhibited hair to grow again.

LAVENDAR OIL

Lavender oil is also known for its anti-fungal and antiseptic properties, like Tea Tree Oil.  Not only does it kill bacteria and fungus that can cause dandruff and hair loss, it deep conditions and restores shine to hair.

HOMEOPATHIC ARNICA

Homeopathic arnica, used for stressful conditions that cause profuse itching and flaking of the scalp, can be found as a topical cream or in shampoos and conditioners.  Topical creams are fast-acting as they are applied directly to the scalp. (Warning-Arnica, believed to be poisonous when swallowed, can lead to cardiac arrest and death.  Pregnant women should not use arnica as it may cause uterine stimulation.)

After it’s all said and done, beautiful hair has to be healthy from the inside out.  All the chemicals, shampoos, treatments and concoctions won’t do a bit of good if your body doesn’t have the essentials inside that create and promote healthy, beautiful hair.  And, using so-called beauty products can do more damage than good so it’s best to use natural products to care for your hair.

2 comments:

  1. I've read that Zinc not only helps with a good hair growth but also help children with their immune system. What kind of supplement are you taking right now? What I have are those from mercola zinc supplement.

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  2. I actually started with a multi-vitamin and now I take Neuro-PS, CoQ10, Fish Oil (which also helps with naturally moisturizing hair) and B12. Of course, at 43, I'm more in-tune with my memory and energy than hair. I've found that I eat well, drink lots of water and don't torture my hair...constant washing, hairspray, coloring, etc. and I have better hair now than when I was younger.
    BTW, another good supplement for children's immune systems is Acidopholous (which my son likes the acidopholous milk) and echinacea.

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