Tatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, shutterstock Possible deficiency: Fatty acids
If you notice that you’ve got flakes raining down after you scratch your head, you automatically think dandruff. But it may also be because you’re not getting enough healthful fatty acids in your diet. “Essential fatty acids, like omega-3s, are a lubricant for our body,” explains Staci Small, RD, of The Wellness Philosophy in Greenwood, Indiana. Without it, you’ll go dry. Make sure to eat two fish meals per week to get in omega-3s. Other fatty acids, like alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), are also important. Find these in walnuts and flaxseeds. Check out these simple ways to make vitamins more effective.
Thin, brittle hair
Tatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, shutterstock Possible deficiency: B vitamins
You hear all about how important the B vitamin biotin is for strong, healthy hair, and that’s true. However, running low on folate (also called folic acid) may also cause thin, brittle strands, says Small. Folate is often found in enriched grains like bread and cereal. Even one cup of white rice is an excellent source. But if you’ve been cutting out carbohydrates because you’re aiming to lose weight, you may be missing out without careful planning. Grains aren’t a must, though. A cup of raw spinach is a good source; a cup of cooked asparagus will give you 60 percent of your daily quota. Here are more signs you could be deficient in B vitamins.
A graying part
Tatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, shutterstock Possible deficiency: Copper
If your part is looking unexpectedly silver lately, check your copper intake. “Copper plays a role in melanin production, which is what gives hair its color,” says Olivia Wagner, MS, RDN, LDN, of Aligned Modern Health, a group of functional wellness centers in Chicago. Consider getting your copper levels tested if your hair is going gray quickly or surprisingly early (like in your 20s without a family history). Canned clams, oysters, and mushrooms are all go-to sources. These are the vitamins you need to take at every age.