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Superfoods for Incredible Hair

By Lucy Danziger, SELF Editor-in-Chief -

Iron helps bolster hair growth. Find it in meat, shellfish, fortified grains and leafy greens.

Protein is the building block of every strand, but it can be high in fat. To keep your saturated fat intake low, opt for lean cuts of meat, mix light meat with dark, or choose seafood.

Biotin, B6 and B12

Biotin, B6 and B12 promote new growth within the follicles. Good sources include whole-grain breads, oatmeal, skim milk, lowfat cheese, eggs, salmon, nuts and nut butters.

Zinc strengthens natural oils that coat the hair shaft, creating shine. Feast on meat, nuts, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds and yogurt.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps promote cell renewal in the scalp. Get your fill in the form of brightly colored fruits and veggies. Strawberries and kiwis are surprising super sources, as are raspberries, mangoes, oranges and red bell peppers.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A is also a hair helper; look for it in apples, apricots and sweet potatoes.

Antioxidants found in herbs, dark chocolate and fresh berries promote a healthy scalp by sparking cell turnover.

Want easy ways to weave these superfoods into your diet? Follow this sample menu by Lona Sandon, R.D., a spokeswoman in Dallas for the American Dietetic Association.


Make your first meal rich in biotin and protein, hair’s primary components.
• Option 1: Whole-grain tortilla [BIOTIN] with 1 slice lowfat cheese [BIOTIN]; 2 scrambled eggs [BIOTIN]; 3 slices mango
• Option 2: 1 cup oatmeal [BIOTIN] with skim milk [BIOTIN] and a small handful of walnuts [BIOTIN] and dried apricots; 1/2 grapefruit

Munch on foods containing growth-promoting iron midday.
• Option 1: 3 oz roast beef [IRON] or turkey [IRON] on whole-wheat toast [IRON] with 1 slice lowfat cheese and 1/2 avocado (instead of mayo)
• Option 2: 3 oz grilled chicken breast; small baked sweet potato; salad of 4 cups romaine [IRON], 1/2 cup each red bell pepper and chickpeas; 1 tbsp olive oil and lemon juice to taste

Antioxidant-rich bites between meals make for a healthy scalp.
• Option 1: 1/2 cup unsalted edamame [ANTIOXIDANTS] sprinkled with chili powder
• Option 2: 1 oz dark chocolate [ANTIOXIDANTS]; 1/2 cup raspberries [ANTIOXIDANTS AND BIOTIN]


Protein for your final meal boosts hair and your energy levels.
• Option 1: 2 1/2 cups veggie chili consisting of 1/2 cup each red kidney beans [PROTEIN], carrots, potato, peas [PROTEIN] and tomatoes
• Option 2: 6 oz grilled wild salmon [PROTEIN AND BIOTIN] or steak [PROTEIN]; a salad of 4 cups spinach, 1/2 cup orange slices, 1 oz goat cheese, a handful each of pumpkin seeds and raisins; 1 tbsp olive oil and lemon juice to taste