Gray hair is a normal part of the aging process. Hair strands are packed with melanin, which gives the hair its color. And as you age, hair follicles produce less melanin resulting in gray or white hair. Genetics, stress, nutrition and certain medical conditions can all contribute to earlier hair graying.
Although you can’t change your genetics or medical history, you can do a lot to support a healthy stress response and increase the nutrition in your diet! The following are four fantastic foods that you can incorporate into your diet to help support your hair wellness and delay the gray. Plus, what you should use to support your hair’s health as you age.
Foods to Eat to Delay Gray Hair
Add these four foods to your diet to help support your hair as you age:
This delicious Mediterranean dip is a powerhouse for your hair health and can support delaying premature graying.
Chickpeas are incredibly high in folate or vitamin B-9, which is important because a deficiency in B-9 has been associated with early graying. This is because B-9 is important for the production of methionine, an amino acid that's essential for hair color. Folate also helps with the production of DNA and RNA.
Another beneficial ingredient in hummus is tahini, which is an excellent source of copper, containing nearly 30% of your recommended daily value in just one tablespoon. Copper plays a number of crucial roles when it comes to your hair health. It helps your body metabolize iron, supports energy production and supports melanin production. Having enough copper in your diet can ensure that these important processes are preserved as you age.
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Safe sun exposure is the best way to get vitamin D, but if you live in the northern hemisphere, during much of the year, it can be difficult to get vitamin D from sunlight alone. This is where mushrooms can help! Some mushrooms are grown using specific UV lights that increase their vitamin D content.
To see if the mushrooms in your local grocery store have been grown with UV light, review the nutrition panel. As of January 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s labeling requirements now mandate that vitamin D be listed in the Nutrition Facts Panel. Look for mushrooms showing 10 mcg or more of vitamin D.
Learn: How to Stop Gray Hair Naturally
3. Fermented Foods
Did you know that a robust and diverse microbiome can actually delay hair graying? Fermented foods like kimchi or sauerkraut provide probiotics (helpful bacteria) to our microbiome. Among many, many other benefits, a strong microbiome helps us produce biotin. Deficiencies in biotin can change hair color and contribute to premature graying.
Adding a few servings of probiotic-rich foods to your daily diet can be an easy and effective way to give your gut microbiome a boost while also improving overall health. But if you don’t love the tang of fermented foods, it’s OK to start slow! Try adding a spoonful of the kimchi juice into a salad dressing to boost beneficial bacteria and brighten the flavor. Even just one forkful of fermented food mixed into your meal can provide benefits!
4. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate can be a good source of iron which is excellent for preventing gray hair. In one study, low ferritin levels (ferritin is a blood protein that contains iron) were associated with premature hair graying. One ounce of dark chocolate contains 20% of your daily value of iron. To increase how much iron you absorb from your daily chocolate, consider having it alongside a vitamin C source (chocolate-dipped strawberries, anyone?)
Eat Right, Supplement Your Diet and Support Your Hair
Striving to eat a nutritionally rich diet is key to supporting your overall health, including your hair. And although you cannot out-supplement a nutrient-poor diet, you can use a targeted supplement to ensure your body always has what it needs to perform its best. You can also incorporate hair care products that are clinically proven to dramatically restore color and shine to graying hair. All of these actions combined can help you keep your gray hair in check for as long as possible.
About Erica Zellner
Erica Zellner holds a Masters of Science in Nutrition and Integrative Health and a post-graduate certificate in Global Health Management. Erica additionally holds the prestigious designation of Certified Nutrition Specialist through the American Nutrition Association and is a Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist. Erica has been featured in various outlets including The New York Times, Women’s Health, and HuffPost. As a Clinical Nutritionist, Erica's focus is on wellness in every aspect of a person's life: mind, body, and spirit. Her goal is to empower individuals to take full control of each of these facets in healthful and fulfilling ways.
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