Whether it’s a personal challenge to see just how long your hair can get, or to grow out a look that isn’t doing you any favors, or because you just want to be able to throw your hair into a ponytail again, most of us have been eager to get our hair to grow faster at one point or another. You may have found vitamins or shampoos or tried to get your hair to grow longer out of sheer force of will. You’ll have likely found that most of these things? Do not work. That’s why we went to professionals to find out exactly how to get our hair to grow by making changes to our diets.
Here are eight foods that are thought to make your hair grow faster, recommended by Harvard and Yale Medical School-trained nutritionist Jayson Calton, PhD, and licensed nutritionist and fitness chef Mira Calton, CN. Behold, the foods for hair growth you should incorporate into your diet, stat.
This fish is loaded with the strong hair supporters like vitamin D and protein, and it also contains omega-3 fatty acids that promote hair growth by keeping your scalp healthy. A win-win.
Yellow bell peppers have nearly five and a half times more vitamin C than oranges (341 milligrams, as opposed to 63). This is very good news for your locks—vitamin C is an antioxidant that strengthens the hair shaft and hair follicles, as well as prevents breakage.
Zinc deficiency has been known to cause hair loss and poor scalp conditions, and oysters are loaded with zinc—just three ounces contains 493-percent of your daily value. But not just any oysters will do: Steer clear of the ones caught in the Gulf of Mexico, which may contain unusually high levels of Cadmium due to the 2010 BP oil spill.
Eggs are an excellent source of those aforementioned omega-3s, and they are also contain biotin (which many people trying to grow their hair take in supplement form). But be aware: It’s not the “healthier” egg white that will make your hair long and beautiful, it’s the yolk. Eating too many egg whites can actually block the absorption of biotin into the body, causing a depletion of this micronutrient.
Just a few little seeds can supply you with an abundance of vitamin E, which will enhance blood flow to the scalp and promote faster hair growth.
Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta carotene, the precursor for vitamin A that not only promotes a healthy scalp but effectively promotes hair growth, too. Choose foods loaded with beta carotene over supplementing with high doses (over 2500 milligrams) of vitamin A from retinol, since it can be toxic at very high levels.
Due to their high concentration of essential fatty acids naturally found in skin cells (which help to keep your skin smooth and supple), avocados are an age-old beauty secret. When topically applied to the hair and scalp, they have the added ability to stimulate collagen and elastin production. Mix a little avocado with sour cream (which contains lactic acid to help exfoliate dead skin and clean up buildup on the scalp) and apply to your hair and scalp for about ten minutes before washing off.
These nuts will make your hair grow faster and thicker due to their high biotin content. One cup contains nearly one-third of your daily requirement. You should be able to see the results in a month or two of adding them to your diet.
Spinach and other dark leafy greens, like Swiss chard and broccoli, contain vitamin A and C, which help your body produce the oils necessary to keep your hair growing healthy and strong. Results may take six months to a year to take their full effect.
A version of this article was originally published in March 2016.