by James Harris, MD February 16, 2016

Diet and hair loss—is there a connection?

hair growth research | hair loss myths and facts

A nutrient-dense diet is essential to achieve optimum health, and your hair is no exception. Yet if you are going bald due to genetic influences, even the best foods will not halt the progression. So where does the truth lie? Is there a connection between diet and hair loss?

There are approximately 100,000 hairs on the head of an average adult. Even people not experiencing hair loss shed about 100 hairs a day—about 1%—or an astonishing 36,000 a year on average. The shedding is part of the natural growth (anagen) and resting (telogen) stages of the hair follicle. In our youth this hair is replaced at the same rate. In genetic hair loss the replacement is less than complete, resulting in eventual thinning or baldness.

The body needs essential nutrients daily to build those new hairs. So to answer the question, yes, there is a connection between diet and healthy hair. The foods listed below will keep the hair you have as healthy as possible.

Popeye was on to something.

Spinach is very high in iron, as well as beta-carotene, folate and vitamin C, all essential nutrients. Prolonged or extreme iron deficiency can directly lead to hair loss. To determine if this is an issue contributing to your hair loss you can check your ferritin levels. Ferritin is a protein found in your blood cells that contains iron. A ferritin test helps your doctor understand how much iron your body is storing. Lots of ferritin equals lots of iron which is essential to building healthy hair. So next time you are in the veggie aisle, remember to pick up those power-packed leafy greens.                                                                              

Go nuts.

Nuts such as pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts, almonds and peanuts are great for ensuring the quality of your hair. These nuts contain high amounts of healthy oils, which contribute to the elastin in your hair. Lack of elastin can lead to hair that easily snaps and breaks. Counting calories? Reach for raw instead of roasted and salted.

Sounds fishy.

It is hard to overstate the role magnesium plays in the human body—suffice it to say that it regulates more than 300 biochemical processes, and foods rich in magnesium help hair grow. Fish is a delicious source of this essential mineral. Types of fish that are richest in magnesium include caviar, cod, salmon, mackerel and halibut.

It’s Greek to me.

Greek yogurt contains lots of vitamin B5 and vitamin D, both of which are linked to hair and follicle health. It’s also a great source of calcium and live bacteria, which is crucial to a healthy digestive system according to a growing body of research. Skip the sweetened versions that contain more calories than a candy bar. The naturally sour version may be an acquired taste for you, but once you are hooked you will understand why Greek yogurt is prized around the world.

The golden egg

A strand of hair is mostly composed of protein, and your hair therefore needs protein to grow. Eggs are a valuable—even portable—source of protein, which can also been found in many other foods such as meat, fish and dairy products. Eat the whole egg for maximum nutrition, superior taste, and to reduce food waste.

A healthy diet is important for healthy hair, but it will not prevent or reverse genetic hair loss. To find out more about the causes, prevention, and tailored solutions to your hair loss, schedule a free consultation with Dr. Harris.

Contact my clinic for a consultation or ask me a question about your unique situation and how we might treat it. 


Dr. James Harris is an internationally renowned hair transplant surgeon, inventor of patented follicular unit excision technology, published author in the field of hair restoration and an advocate for patient care. He is currently at the forefront of research and development in the field of hair cloning. Learn more about Dr. Harris or read rave reviews from his patients.

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