What to Eat For Hair Growth: 15+ Best Foods to Try
Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Sheryl George
Mom was onto something: Eating a healthy, balanced diet is actually important. As much as we’d love to crush Pop Tarts® on the reg, getting essential nutrients plays a key role in your overall health — and it can also affect hair growth.
Eating well is not just for the gym bros. Getting enough protein and micronutrients is as vital for your hairline as it is for your biceps. No, seriously — learn more about this in our guide to protein and hair growth.
But for real: If you’re starting to notice signs of hair thinning or just want to be preventative, this guide will walk you through the best foods for hair growth.
And for the picky eaters who need to supplement and those who have a nutritional deficiency, our guide to vitamins for hair growth is a helpful read.
We’ve also covered:
Now let’s get into what foods are best for hair growth.
Best Foods for Hair Growth
Hair follicles are some of the most metabolically active cells in the body. Without proper nutrients, their function can be altered, affecting hair structure and growth.
One example of this is how sudden weight loss sometimes leads to hair thinning. The body processes rapid weight loss as a stressor resulting in telogen effluvium hair loss. Sudden weight loss could also mean you’re deprived of necessary nutrients and protein.
Some studies have shown a link between nutritional deficiencies and other types of hair loss, like androgenetic alopecia, alopecia areata and female pattern hair loss.
So, what are the best foods for hair growth? Since we’d never make you crawl into the spiral kingdom of Google, we’ve rounded up some all-star foods you’ll want to add to your weekly meal prep.
What Foods Help With Hair Growth?
Foods that might help promote luscious locks include eggs, fatty fish, avocados, spinach, beef, lamb, nuts, beans, soybeans, seeds, oysters, berries and sweet potatoes. Here’s what to know.
They got a bad rep at one point, but these tiny powerhouses are an egg-celent option (sorry, we had to!) to include in your weekly intake.
Eggs contain amino acids, protein, vitamin D3, vitamin B5, vitamin B12 and selenium, all of which can help promote better hair health. And don’t skip the yolks because they contain biotin (the queen B of supplements for hair growth). Yep, most of the B vitamins made it to this party.
Salmon, Mackerel and Other Fatty Fish
Seafood can be a great source of protein, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Dietary guidelines from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health recommend adults get 8 or more ounces of various forms of seafood (fish or shellfish) per week.
While omega-3 content can range depending on the type of fish, cold-water fatty fish tend to contain higher amounts of these healthy fats. This includes salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines and herring.
Though few studies are available, some research has found that omega-3 fatty acids may help stimulate hair growth and act against hair loss. One study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that women who used an omega-3, an omega-6 and an antioxidant supplement saw improvements in hair density over the course of six months.
Loaded with potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, vitamin B6, niacin, choline, lutein, zeaxanthin and high-monounsaturated fatty acids, avocados are nutritionally dense superfoods.
In one study, 38 participants were given 100 milligrams of mixed tocotrienols (of the vitamin E family), and their hair count increased significantly compared to the control group. While this study was small, it may be another reason to add avocado toast or guac to your go-to snack list.
Time to make like Popeye, this leafy green vegetable is another superstar. Spinach contains vitamin C, iron and folate. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world and is a well-known cause of hair loss.
While there’s been some conflicting research, a few studies have demonstrated lower levels of serum ferritin among those with hair loss disorders like telogen effluvium, pattern hair loss and androgenetic alopecia.
Beef and Lamb
Protein isn’t just vital for muscle gains — it’s also essential for hair growth. When your diet doesn’t contain a sufficient amount of protein, it can lead to shedding, thinning and noticeable hair loss.
Your hair is primarily made up of a protein called keratin, so protein is necessary for your best hair health. Like spinach, red meat is rich in iron, making it an important part of your diet for avoiding iron deficiency hair loss.
Almonds and Other Nuts
Almonds and other nuts are rich in nutrients that may promote hair growth, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and biotin. A quarter-cup serving of almonds contains 1.5 micrograms of biotin, or approximately 5 percent of your recommended daily intake.
Almonds are also rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that may have specific benefits for preventing hair loss and promoting hair growth while fighting off free radicals.
Note that research is limited here. Nonetheless, almonds and other nuts are also great sources of healthy fats and protein, both of which are important for optimal hair health. Add nuts to your list of healthy snacks — no meal prep necessary.
Beans and Soybeans
Hair can be influenced by the presence of estrogen, so certain foods like beans and soybeans may be helpful to load up on. Beans are rich in zinc, an essential trace element that fuels your immune system, cellular growth and important bodily processes, such as wound healing.
Soy-based foods are especially high in protein, amino acids, prebiotics, iron and healthy fats, making them a great addition to a well-rounded diet.
While there isn’t a recommended daily amount set by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), some studies show benefits with consumption of beans two to four times a day.
They’re not just for the birds, bruh. Seeds can be a great source of protein (think pumpkin, sesame or sunflower seeds) and also a great source of fat (flax seed, for example). They’re also a good source of niacin, which is crucial for hair health.
Many seeds contain vitamins that may help with hair growth. For instance, an ounce of sunflower seeds contains 76 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E, making them one of the best natural sources of this essential antioxidant. Consider seeds as another go-to snack or salad topping alongside nuts.
This aphrodisiac from the sea is high in zinc — so much so that it contains more zinc per serving than other food.
In a large study, participants diagnosed with male pattern hair loss, female pattern hair loss or telogen effluvium demonstrated lower zinc levels compared to the control group. Sure sounds like it may be time to load up on those oysters to help support hair growth.
Berries are rich in vitamin C, a superstar antioxidant that can help fend off oxidative stress — and oxidative stress has been linked to hair loss.
Vitamin C also plays a major role in the process of synthesizing collagen for your skin, nails and hair. While we don’t yet know if collagen improves hair health, there are theories it might help prevent hair thinning and slow down the graying process. To top it all off, vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron.
Consider adding some strawberries and citrus fruits to your spinach salad or go for an a.m. spinach, berry and chia seed smoothie. This powerhouse blend can help fend off issues like iron deficiency anemia.
Most berries contain large amounts of vitamin C, including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Strawberries are especially high in the antioxidant, with 54 percent of the daily value in just a half-cup serving.
These tubers contain large amounts of beta-carotene, an important antioxidant and what gives the flesh of sweet potatoes its vibrant orange color. Known as a provitamin, beta-carotene is a carotenoid that’s converted into vitamin A by your body.
Beta-carotene is a key source of vitamin A. In fact, a whole baked sweet potato (with the skin on) gives you 156 percent of the recommended daily value. And some evidence indicates that vitamin A may activate hair follicle stem cells.
Hims has helped thousands of men regrow their hair
Other Treatments to Promote Hair Growth
Listen, you can eat all the salmon and nuts and berries in the world, but if you’re dealing with hormonal hair loss (like male pattern baldness), hair loss treatments are the best way to regrow your hair in addition to a healthy diet.
Here are a few to consider:
Minoxidil. A go-to for dermatologists, minoxidil has tons of science to prove its efficacy for hair regrowth. It’s commonly sold under the brand name Rogaine®. Though the exact mechanism for growth is not fully understood, it’s believed to increase microcirculation near the hair follicles. In turn, it promotes hair growth. This hair loss treatment is available as a 5% minoxidil foam or a 2% strength minoxidil solution.
Finasteride. A once-daily pill, prescription-strength finasteride helps slow down hair loss by targeting dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the main culprit of male pattern baldness. Topical finasteride & minoxidil spray. Think of this quick-drying spray as a super-charged hair growth treatment. It combines topical finasteride with minoxidil for a one-two punch to boost hair growth.
Hair growth shampoos and conditioners. Don’t sleep on the right haircare products. Yes, they do make a difference, and yes, please step away from the value shampoo you bought from Costco four years ago. A good lather can also help remove the grime and sebum that weigh down strands. If you’re craving some body, try a volumizing shampoo and conditioner. Looking to bulk? A thickening shampoo with saw palmetto might do the trick. This botanical extract has antiandrogenic properties that may help reduce hair loss.
Biotin supplements. A biotin deficiency has been linked to hair loss, so supplementing your diet may be helpful. These Biotin gummies also happen to be delish. While it’s one of the buzziest supplements for hair growth (biotin is linked to healthy hair and nails), it’s typically only helpful if you’re not already getting enough of it through your diet.
Shop by treatment options
No matter the treatment plan, the best place to start is somewhere. Early action is the best hair loss prevention.
The Verdict on Foods for Hair Growth
You now know which items you should be putting in your cart the next time you’re at Trader Joe’s. Besides making Mom proud, these foods have health benefits for myriad bodily functions, including growing a healthy hairline.
A balanced diet is truly a way to care for yourself and promote healthy hair growth.
Remember these handy-dandy tips:
Aim for whole foods. When in doubt, choose veggies and fruits over things that come in a package. No food shaming — everything in moderation is the motto we believe (truly — there’s a little room for Oreos® in any diet). But getting an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals will allow you to feel your best while helping you get your hair health to the best state possible.
It’s okay to get a little help. If you’re not able to meet all your nutritional needs through diet alone, speak with a registered dietitian or a healthcare provider about supplementing. They can help you determine what exactly you need and how much.
It’s also okay to get a lot of help. If a balanced diet of leafy vegetables just ain’t cuttin’ it, it may be time to consider a hair loss treatment like minoxidil or finasteride.
Want to do more research? Check out these science-backed tips for hair growth.
If you’re ready to get started on the journey to healthier hair, get a healthcare provider-recommended hair regimen in place with an online consultation today.