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Thinning or slow-growing hair can be a pain. There’s no shortage of supplements out there that promise to make your hair grow faster, but do they actually work? There are certain essential nutrients that do promote hair growth, but they’re most easily absorbed into the body when you consume them through whole, natural foods.

Some nutrients to look for include omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, iron, protein, biotin, and vitamins C, E and A. Let’s take a look at which foods contain these vital nutrients.

Avocado

Avocado is full of the essential fatty acids that are a necessary component of skin cells. Boosting your intake of fatty acids keeps your scalp healthy, which in turn allows your hair to grow longer and healthier. For an added boost, you can apply avocado topically to the hair and scalp for about 10 minutes.

Salmon

Salmon is another food rich in fatty acids. In addition to the omega-3s that are necessary for scalp health, it contains protein that helps strengthen your hair strands.

Eggs

Many of the most common hair-growth supplements contain biotin, also known as vitamin B7. The yolk of an egg is rich in this nutrient, which is essential for hair, skin and nail growth. Eggs are also rich in protein and fatty acids.

Pumpkin or sunflower seeds

Snacking on these seeds throughout the day will supply you with a boost of vitamin E, which increases circulation to the scalp. Pumpkin seeds also contain zinc, which keeps the scalp moisturized. A healthy scalp leads to healthy hair.

Oysters

Another abundant source of zinc can be found in the sea. One 3 ounce serving of fresh oysters contains a whopping 493% of your daily value of zinc.

Strawberries

There are many foods that are rich in vitamin C, but strawberries are one of the most delicious ways to pack this essential vitamin into your diet. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen production, and collagen is a critical part of hair strands.

Sweet Potatoes

Vitamin A is crucial for a healthy scalp as well as hair growth, but it’s best to consume it from natural sources. The beautiful orange color of sweet potatoes is due to the high content of beta carotene, which is then formed into vitamin A.

Leafy Vegetables

Leafy vegetables have a couple important benefits: they’re rich in iron, and they contain MSM (methylsulfonylmethane). Iron deficiency is a common culprit of hair loss, while MSM is a vital component of keratin, a type of protein in hair strands.

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