Foods that prevent hair loss: How to get the 7 essential anti- balding nutrients

No, it's not your imagination. Your hair is
thinning.
According to board-certified hair-
restoration physician Dr. Alan Bauman, 20
percent of men start to lose their hair in
their twenties. While genetics play a big
role, you still have some control over
your hairline—and we aren't talking plugs
or hair-in-a-box remedies, here. We're
talking food. That's right, if your reflection
shows an ever-growing forehead, put
down the hat and reach for the fridge
instead.
"Like any other part of the body or
component of health, hair needs a variety
of nutrients to grow and be healthy," said
nutritionist Rania Batayneh, author of The
One One One Diet. "Because nutrients go
to essential tissues first, like muscles and
organs, before they go to hair, it's
important to get both enough and a
variety of nutrients to ensure a healthy
head of hair."
Here, the nutrients you need for a full
head of hair—and the foods that pack
them:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Good for more than your brain, omega-3
fatty acids nourish your whole noggin.
The essential nutrient reaches both the
hair shaft and the cell membranes in your
scalp, nourishing the follicles and
promoting healthy hair growth, according
to Batayneh. Plus, they add elasticity to
your hair, preventing it from breaking off
and ending up in your shower drain. But
get this—the body can't produce omega
3-fatty acids on its own; whatever you eat
is what your body gets. So dig in!
The foods to eat: Flaxseeds, walnuts,
salmon, tuna, kale, Brussels sprouts,
rapeseed oil.
Zinc
Boosting tissue growth and repair, zinc
helps keep your scalp and hair stay
healthy. It also regulates hormones
(testosterone included) in the body and
helps maintain production of oil-secreting
glands on the scalp that help your hair
grow. There's no need to go overboard,
though. High levels of testosterone are
actually linked to hair loss, Bauman said.
According to the Office of Dietary
Supplements, 11 mg a day is all you need.
While it's not proven your body will go on
a T rampage if you consume too much
zinc, there's no need to tempt hair follicle
fate.
The foods to eat: Chickpeas, wheat germ,
oysters, beef, veal liver, roast beef.
Protein
Quick chemistry lesson: Your hair is
pretty much pure protein. So if you don't
eat enough for both your muscles and
hair, you'll have bulging biceps—but a
bald head. And even if you do hang onto
your hair, eating too little protein can
turn it gray, Bauman said. Eat a diet rich
in high-quality, naturally occurring
protein. Wait, you're a veg or a vegan? No
worries. As any good meatless eater
knows, protein abounds in more than just
animal sources.
The foods to eat: Greek yogurt, eggs yolks,
kale, peanuts, beans, peas, lentils, tofu,
chicken, turkey.
Iron
When it comes to healthy circulation,
eating enough iron is clutch. Iron helps
deliver blood to the body's cells. Neglect
the nutrient and your blood can't carry
enough oxygen to your scalp for good
hair growth, said Bauman. "Many doctors
have seen a correlation between
treatment for iron-deficient anemia and
an increase in hair growth," Batayneh
added.
The foods to eat: Dark leafy greens, whole
grains, beans, red meat, turkey, egg yolks,
clams, mussels, oysters.
Vitamins A and C
Both vitamins contribute to the
production of sebum, the oily substance
that your hair follicles spit out. Nature's
hair conditioner, it keeps your hair from
breaking off. Plus, vitamin C increases the
amount of blood-boosting iron that your
body can put to use, said Batayneh. While
some vitamin A is good for your scalp,
more than 15,000 IU a day can actually
spur hair loss, said Bauman, who notes
that the recommended daily allowance of
the vitamin for men is 5,000 IU a day.
The foods to eat: Swiss chard, spinach,
broccoli, sweet potatoes, pumpkin.
Magnesium
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant
mineral in the body and is needed for
more than 300 biochemical reactions—
hair growth included, according to the
National Institute of Health. But research
from the Medical University of South
Carolina shows that 68 percent of U.S.
adults don't get enough of the essential
nutrient, contributing to increased
inflammation in the body. Another result?
Hair loss. Batayneh noted that magnesium
deficiencies have been linked to hair loss
in both men and women.
The foods to eat: Almonds, spinach,
cashews, lentils, brown rice, halibut.
Selenium
A trace element that helps the body make
selenoproteins, which regulate
reproduction, metabolism, DNA synthesis,
and immunity, selenium also stimulates
hair follicles to encourage new growth.
Scrimp on selenium and your body will
churn out way too much selenoproteins,
leading to hair follicle abnormalities,
reduced growth, and hair loss, according
to one 2010 study published in PLoS
ONE.