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Nutritional Strategies for Taming Dull, Dry, Brittle, Frizzy Hair and Gray Hair

If you have healthy, straight, shining hair like Demi Moore or Heidi Klum, congratulations—you’re the exception, not the rule! Most women have to use various tips and tricks to persuade their hair to behave. Unhealthy hair is dull and dry, with breakage and split ends. Hair that lacks moisture is lightweight, which makes it unmanageable and flyaway. Short, broken strands escape any attempt to control them. If your hair is curly as well as frizzy, you could have a cloud of fuzzy hair instead of gleaming strands. If you suffer from dry, frizzy hair, be sure to check out my Beauty Diet Rx for nutritional solutions to bad hair days.

For Dry, Brittle Hair
If you are eating an adequate diet, you are probably getting a sufficient amount of protein, plus enough of the trace minerals like copper, sulfur, selenium, and silicon. In addition to following the lifestyle for lovely locks and the maintenance tips for healthy hair discussed in this post, you’ll want to do the following:

*Get plenty of iron for building strong hair shafts.

*Drink lots of water to help keep your hair hydrated from the inside out.

*Consume more omega-3 fatty acids. Your scalp needs quality fats to produce the sebum that keeps your hair under control.

*Include beta-carotene-rich foods in your diet. From beta-carotene, your body can synthesize vitamin A to keep your scalp healthy.

*Consume plenty of B vitamins, which help keep hair from becoming weak and brittle. They all work together, so eat many different foods to make sure you get enough of each.

*Consume lots of vitamin C–rich foods.

*Focus on foods rich in zinc to keep your scalp healthy and to help hair growth.

*Include vitamin E–rich foods in your diet to protect the lipids in your scalp from free-radical damage.

Gray Hair: Love It or Leave It?

When my friend Rachel discovered her first gray hair, she shrieked—then immediately got her tweezers and plucked it out. This approach is working for the time being, but the time will come when Rachel—and the rest of us!—will have to decide whether or not to go gray. She may choose to embrace her gray hair as a sign of her wisdom and experience, or she may say “To heck with that idea!”

The best way to avoid gray hair is to pick parents who have genes for long-lasting hair color. Every person is programmed to develop gray (nonpigmented) hair by a certain age, and no amount of nutritional intervention can change that. However, there are some conditions that can cause hair to turn gray earlier, or more rapidly, than normal. Correcting those processes can help you keep your natural color longer. When we are young, cells called melanocytes produce the pigment that gives our hair its color. Gray hair is caused by a decrease in the functioning of the melanocytes. This is often associated with age but can occur for other reasons. Thyroid disorders may make hair turn gray early, and smoking and stress have been linked to prematurely gray hair.

A link between nutrition and gray hair is vitamin B12. A deficiency of B12 can cause gray hair. It’s unlikely for most Americans to have a B vitamin deficiency due to a poor diet (though vegans need to supplement their diet with B12), but it can happen if you have problems absorbing nutrients, such as older adults with decreased stomach acid or those with gastrointestinal disorders.

For Gray Hair
*Correct any underlying health conditions, such as thyroid disorders, that could be making your hair gray. Your hair may grow back in its normal color after you are well.

*Correct any digestive problems you may have, which could be interfering with your ability to absorb nutrients.

*Include an adequate amount of protein in your diet to support the color and texture of your hair.

*Consume an adequate amount of vitamin B12.

*If you smoke, stop.

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