Lately, there’s been a lot of focus on zinc due to its role in immune health, but did no you know that zinc plays a vital role in hair growth too? Zinc is critical component in protein synthesis and has been shown to also play a role in hair follicle creation and growth. In fact, a study of 312 individuals showed those with alopecia and hair loss had significantly lower zinc levels compared to healthy controls without hair loss. Studies have also demonstrated therapeutic benefits of zinc supplementation in those with alopecia and low zinc levels.
But before you rush to go buy a supplement, it’s best to focus on food first, as high intakes of zinc can block iron and copper absorption, leading to anemia, as well as nausea and vomiting. Zinc is widely available in many foods and our daily needs are typically met when we eat a variety of nutrient dense foods. Good sources of zinc include shellfish, chicken, beef, legumes, seeds, nuts, eggs, whole grains and dark chocolate, with beef and shellfish providing the richest sources. As plant-based sources of zinc contain phytates, which inhibit absorption, vegetarians may be at risk of zinc deficiency, but this can be minimized by consuming yeast-based or sourdough breads, sprouted grains and presoaked legumes. If you think you may be deficient, work with a Registered Dietitian who can assess your intake first.