Tags: BEAUTY , HAIR CARE Shutterstock photo

We all know the importance of diet to our overall well-being—i.e., what to eat and what not to eat for optimum health and fitness.

But did you ever stop to wonder about the best foods to consume for optimal hair condition? The KeraGirls did—and here’s our list of the best things to eat for healthy, happy hair, organized by the benefit:

Salmon for shiny hairShutterstock photos 

For shiny hair

Look for foods high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which help the body stave off disease in addition to keeping your hair shiny. Although there are no official recommendations for daily intake of omega-3, experts advise consuming somewhere between 2 and 4 grams of omega-3 fats each day. Luckily, there are many foods that provide this super nutrient, starting with oily fish such as wild salmon (more nutrient-rich than farm-raised), sardine and mackerel. You can also find omega-3 in flaxseeds and walnuts; as well as beans (including soybeans) and winter squash.

Another shine-boosting ingredient is the antioxidant beta carotene, which is turned into vitamin A by your body and helps protect against dry, dull hair. It also encourages the glands in your scalp to make sebum, a protective fluid that keeps the hair from drying out. Beta carotene can be found in orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, cantaloupe, and mangoes.

For supple hair

One key vitamin to keep your hair supple and prevent breakage is vitamin C. You can find it in citrus fruits, of course, as well as in guava—which is packed with this vitamin; one cup has 377 milligrams of C, which is more than four times the minimum daily recommended amount.

Spinach for supple hair

Speaking of C: Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale, are nutrition powerhouses. In addition to vitamin C, they contain vitamin A, plus iron, beta carotene, and folate—which all work together for a healthy scalp and mane, keeping your hair moisturized so it doesn’t break.

For full hair

To prevent hair loss and promote healthy volume, make sure to consume foods with the mineral zinc. Cells that build hair rely on zinc to function properly, so a lack of zinc can lead to hair loss. You can find zinc in oysters, beef, crab, lobster, and fortified cereal.

Oysters for full hair

In that same vein, getting too little iron can lead to hair loss. This important nutrient is found in fortified cereal, grains, and pastas, and in soybeans and lentils. Beef, especially organ meats like liver, has lots of it. Shellfish and dark leafy greens do, too.

For hair growth

For a healthy head of hair, make sure to eat protein—the building block of all cells. When you don’t get enough protein, hair stops growing. Since older hairs will fall out, you can have hair loss. The best sources for protein are lean meats such as chicken, turkey and pork.

Another protein-packed food to eat is Greek yogurt, which also has vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) to help encourage blood flow to your scalp and promote hair growth. You may recognize pantothenic acid as an ingredient on your hair and skincare product labels.

Eggs for hair growth

Eggs are a great choice, too. In addition to being loaded with protein, eggs are rich in a B vitamin called biotin that helps hair grow. Not having enough of this vitamin can lead to hair loss. Biotin also helps strengthen brittle fingernails.

And there you have it: By incorporating these into your meal plans, you’ll have a diet that’s not only good for you, but also great for your hair health!