6 nutrients for healthy hair

Fill your plate with these foods to get the shiny, lustrous hair you've always wanted.
Health.com // Health.com

The secret to thick, strong, shiny strands isn't an expensive shampoo or fancy salon treatment—it's all about your diet. Eating a variety of healthy foods will give you the mane you've always dreamed of. Fill up on these nutrients to begin growing your healthiest hair ever.

--By Hallie Levine Sklar, Health.com

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Iron and zinc

Iron and zinc help hair follicles to grow, says Wilma Bergfeld, MD, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic. She suggests eating lean red meat, which is rich in both nutrients, twice a week.

Pair nonmeat sources, such as soybeans or lentils, with a vitamin C-rich food like an orange to boost iron absorption.

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Vitamin D

Several studies have found that vitamin D may help activate hair growth. However, D is a tricky vitamin. Few foods contain it naturally, and although sitting in the sun for a few minutes a day can help your body produce more of it, many experts advise against it due to the increased exposure to harmful UV rays. Your best bet? Take a 1,000 IU supplement daily, and try these recipes that contain vitamin D.

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Protein

Protein is one of the building blocks of life, promoting cell growth and repair—and it boosts your hair strength, too! Women should get at least 46 grams a day (3 ounces of chicken has about 23).

Follow this guide to determine exactly how much protein you should be consuming daily.

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Eat fatty fish (like salmon) twice a week for hydrated hair, or take up to 1 gram a day of a DHA and EPA supplement. In addition to silky hair, omega-3s may help relieve depression and are a proven heart-helper.

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Biotin

Eggs are rich in this B vitamin essential for growth. (They're also an excellent source of protein, choline, and vitamin D.)

Not an egg fan? You could also take 30mcg supplement daily.

This gallery originally appeared on Health.com.

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