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Essential Ingredients for Healthy Hair and Nails

This surely comes as no surprise, but healthy hair and nails start with proper nutrition. In fact, it only takes four essential ingredients to help transform even the most lackluster strands into a healthy, shiny, fuller head of hair. That's it. Just four ingredients. As we age (and even for many even young people), hair can begin to lose its shine and thickness and nails can become thin and brittle. While hormones certainly play a role, the secret to thick, lustrous, shiny hair and a healthy scalp lies in the foods that we eat and the supplements we take. The same is also true for healthy, strong nails and youthful, radiant-looking skin.

Four Essentials for Healthy Hair

There are four ingredients Dr. Perricone considers essential for healthy hair and strong nails—protein, Vitamin E, healthy fats and antioxidant-rich foods. Let's delve into these a bit more, shall we?

1. Protein and Cold Water Fish

Salmon and other cold water fish pack a double whammy for great hair, skin and nails. Not only are they an incredible source of protein and healthy fats, but they are also rich sources of the omega-3 fatty acids that are vital to scalp health and shiny, healthy hair. The high-quality protein found in these fish can help keep hair strong and promote growth. When protein deficiency is present within the body, it can be visible in the skin (especially the face) and hair, only getting worse as we age.

2. Vitamin E for Capillary Growth

Foods rich in Vitamin E are also essential to healthy hair. Vitamin E promotes the growth of capillaries, which increases circulation and blood flow to the follicles, ultimately helping to stimulate hair growth. This fat-soluble vitamin can also help combat split ends and dry scalp.

3. Healthy Fats

Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of Vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids. They're also great sources of protein, as well as vitamins and minerals (including biotin, potassium, zinc, iron, B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium and calcium).

Olive oil, seeds and nuts such as almonds are excellent sources of monounsaturated fatty acids that promote a smooth and radiant-looking complexion, help prevent the appearance of wrinkles and maintain skin elasticity. These healthy sources of fat also help to increase the strength, shine and thickness of your hair. Extra virgin coconut oil is a genuine super food for many reasons. The fatty acid profile of coconut consists primarily of caprylic and lauric acids, which support immune function. Researchers have also discovered that the lauric acid fraction in coconut oil has both antiviral and antimicrobial properties; these antimicrobial benefits are hugely important when it comes to preventing hair loss. The people of Polynesia are known for their long, lustrous and beautiful hair—thanks in large part to their consumption of coconuts and their liberal use of coconut oil on their hair and in their diets. Ironically (or not), oily hair is often caused by a dry scalp. The good news is that eating foods rich in healthy fats—such as cold water fish, nuts, seeds, coconut and olive oils—will combat this problem working from the inside out.

4. Antioxidants

Citrus fruits such as lemons, limes and grapefruit, are rich in antioxidants known as limonoids and limonenes. Vitamin C plays a significant role in the creation of collagen, which is an essential component of hair and nail growth. Vitamin C also plays a critical role in another key element for hair growth—iron. Some lesser-known anti-inflammatory sources of for Vitamin c include cantaloupe, broccoli, bell peppers and spinach.

Supplement Wisely

Other key elements essential for healthy hair, hair growth and strong nails include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids, vital to scalp health and shiny, healthy hair and strong nails
  • Biotin is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in the formation of keratin to support healthy, strong nails
  • Vitamin A promotes hair growth and helps in the production of sebum contributing to a healthy scalp

Remember that truly healthy hair, nails and skin all start with the proper nutrition. Following the anti-inflammatory diet and incorporating the right supplement regimen can transform even the most lackluster strands into a healthy, shiny fuller head of hair.