Hair is one of the fastest growing tissues of the body, second only to bone marrow.
It is made of two parts:
the follicle, which is under the skin and anchors the hair to the scalp; and the shaft, which is the strand above the scalp and is composed primarily of a protein called keratin. Keratin is produced by the follicle cells, and thus the key to healthy hair is to ensure the follicle cells are adequately nourished.
Because the cells divide frequently (every 23 to 72 hours), they require adequate blood flow and a good supply of nutrients to feed the growth and development of these cells. Healthy hair is a general sign of good health, while dry, brittle hair could indicate a nutritional deficiency. For women in particular, approximately 30% of hair loss before the age of 50 can be attributed to nutritional causes.
No single nutrient is responsible for the health of the hair. Like every other cell or tissue in our bodies, all essential nutrients play a role. However, a 2013 review published in the Journal of Dermatologic Clinics highlights some key nutrients.
If you’re experiencing issues with your hair, it may help to evaluate whether your food choices supply adequate amounts of nutrients.