Having healthy-looking hair is an unmistakable sign of good health. Hair is essential to express your personality, get noticed, and feel good about yourself.
Innovative products to strengthen hair are being put on the cosmetics market all the time, but how can we take care of our precious hair with the right nutrition and natural food supplements? Let's see it now!
A close-up of our hair
How is the hair made?
Each of our hair originates from the hair bulb, a very active area from the point of view of metabolic activity, and develops in a well-characterized structure, consisting of three overlapping layers:
The medulla is a disordered region in the center, surrounded by the cortex containing most of the fibrous mass (primarily keratin proteins and structural lipids). The cortex is finally surrounded by the cuticle, a layer of overlapping dead cells whose task is to form the actual protective layer.
Hair growth rate
Hair is the tissue with the highest replicative potential in the human body. The hair growth rate is in the range of 0.5cm-2cm per month. Obviously, this speed depends on various factors:
- hormonal picture.
Typically, optimal hair growth occurs from adolescence up to about 30 years and then decreases around 40-50 years. The life cycle includes 3 phases: growth, maintenance, and rest. At the end of this last phase, hair loss occurs, completely physiological, and necessary for proper renewal (turnover).
Our hair, however, is perpetually exposed to stressors of various kinds such as hormonal variations, lifestyle, incorrect behavior, environment, as well as the psychophysical state of the subject. The hair can therefore easily get stressed, weaken and undergo an early fall of a pathological nature (such as androgenetic alopecia) and not.
How can we strengthen the hair?
In addition to specific lifestyle precautions (adequate sleep, stress limitation, no alcohol, and smoking) and, in the most serious cases, pharmacological treatment, it is very important to adopt a balanced diet, since nutrients are essential to guarantee the correct physiological cycle of all tissues, especially if with high proliferation such as the hair bulb.
A constant supply of these nutrients must therefore be guaranteed from the blood. Let's see what are the substances that help strengthen hair, what role they play, and where we can find them in foods and supplements.
Good foods for your hair
The first attention must be paid to the quantity and quality of proteins and amino acids since keratin is a protein with a structural function. Hypo-protein diets are associated with a greater fragility and risk of hair loss, lacking the building blocks necessary for their formation. To be technical, some amino acids such as cysteine and methionine are particularly important because they are present in higher percentages in the amino acid sequence of keratin.
Consumption of protein sources of high biological value such as fish, eggs, white and red meats in the right quantities, can ensure beauty and strength to hair.
Cell membranes, including those of the scalp, are made up of lipids and it is therefore important to consume the right amounts of fat. In particular, Omega 6 (in the right levels) and Omega 3 fatty acids are recommended, found mainly in fatty fish, dried fruit, or vegetable oils (EVO oil in primis).
Vitamins are involved in almost all cellular processes and therefore also participate in the life cycle of the hair.
- Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Two extraordinary antioxidants able to counteract excess free radicals that could damage the scalp and the hair bulb, preventing proper growth. Furthermore, vitamin C favors the assimilation of iron, a mineral essential for cellular supply.
- Vitamin D. Deficiencies in this vitamin are associated with abnormal hair loss, especially in susceptible individuals. Furthermore, it seems to carry out an action that favors the birth of new hair bulbs, thus contributing to the thickening of the foliage.
- Vitamin A. Involved in the protection from external agents and in the synthesis of keratins. Deficiencies of this vitamin lead to brittleness and opacity of the hair, as well as dryness of the scalp.
- Vitamins of B group. B1, B2, B3 and B5 promote the nourishment of follicular cells. The B6, on the other hand, helps to limit the formation of dandruff. B9 is related to the rate of cell proliferation. B12 prevents hair loss and B7 (biotin), finally, is considered the most important element for the hair as it is involved in numerous metabolic reactions. Biotin is widely used in the treatment of hair disorders, with some rich scientific literature to support it.
Mineral salts are also very important for a thick and healthy mane and their deficiency can be the basis of weak, brittle hair and a high risk of early fall. Among these should be mentioned:
- Iron. It is involved in cellular oxygenation processes and its deficiency is responsible for the undernourishment of the hair bulb.
- Selenium. A strong antioxidant of considerable support in cell growth.
- Zinc. A constituent of the hair structure.
- Sulfur. Important for giving tone and strength to the hair.
- Copper. Involved in processes related to pigmentation.
These microelements can be taken naturally through food, consuming a varied diet every day, one rich in plant sources such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains.
There is little to say about the water. The correct water balance is essential for maintaining an optimal hair tone. It is therefore recommended to stay hydrated during the day by drinking plenty of water (about 2 lt daily).
Natural hair supplements
As for natural hair supplements, they can be very useful in case the nutrients we have talked about are not optimally taken with the diet. To the classic formulations with proven efficacy (multivitamins, multi-minerals, proteins, and amino acids), there are added some natural extracts with a promising nutraceutical effect.
Being a relatively new area, the data we have, although encouraging, must nevertheless be interpreted with scientific rigor. The plants, from which these supplements are obtained, which have high contents of polyphenols and useful antioxidant substances, such as:
- Panax ginseng
- Malus pumila
- Moringa Oleifera
- Allium sativum
- Camelia Sinensis
- Rosmarinum officinalis
As we have seen, our hair, apparently banal, contains within it an enormous complexity. Understanding all the mechanisms underlying physiology in order to be able to adapt and develop all the strategies necessary to preserve their health is extremely important. Holding on to our hair indirectly means holding on to ourselves and this is our duty.
Have you ever tried hair supplements? Have you noticed the difference? Tell us in the comments!
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