It is important to get enough of the mineral Zinc for hair growth as it plays a powerful role in maintaining a healthy hair shaft. Zinc is an essential mineral that is involved in numerous cellular reproductive activities including normal immune function, cell division, tissue growth and wound healing, protein and DNA synthesis. Because hair growth depends on normal cellular reproduction and protein-building, a deficiency of zinc can lead to hair shedding or hair loss.
According to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, the recommended dietary allowances for zinc for people over 19 years of age and over is 11 mg for men, 8 mg for women, 11 mg for pregnant women and 12 mg for lactating women.
What foods contain the important zinc for hair growth
There are two simple ways to increase the zinc in your diet, if you suspect that your hair is thinning and/or shedding abnormally:
- Eat more foods that contain zinc: We get our zinc naturally from foods. Oysters, for example, contain the most zinc per serving than any other food at 74 mg per serving or 493%. Red meat such as beef contains the second highest amount of zinc at 7mg per serving, and poultry contains 2.4 mg per serving.
Beans, nuts, certain seafood such as crab and lobster, whole grains, cereals, and dairy products all include zinc at various daily values (see NIH Table). If you are vegan or vegetarian, you may require as much as 50% more of the RDA for zinc than non-vegetarians. Other groups such as pregnant and lactating women, infants 7-12 months old, and people with gastrointestinal or sickle cell diseases are also susceptible to zinc deficiency.
- Begin zinc or hair loss supplementation: Zinc can also be found in numerous forms of zinc dietary supplements such as zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate, and zinc acetate. Zinc can also be included in hair supplements.
If you suspect that your hair is thinning and/or shedding abnormally, it is recommended that you do not diagnose yourself. You may run the risk of causing interactions with other medications you are taking. Additionally, too much zinc intake may cause adverse health effects. We recommend you ask your physician if zinc supplementation is right for you, learn more about ways to safely increase zinc levels in your body, and inquire about the best holistic approach for you.
- American Academy of Dermatology (https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/hair-care/hair-loss-vs-hair-shedding).
- The National Institutes of Health – Office of Dietary Supplements (https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/)