Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

women's hair loss

(CBS News) When most people think about how the food they eat affects their appearance, bulging waistlines or greasy skin blemishes might come to mind. But did you know what you eat can go a long way to help your hair?

Or more importantly, missing out on these foods might leave your hair brittle and thinning. Dieters especially may be depriving themselves of essential nutrients their hair needs to stay healthy. "When you are on a crash diet, your hair crashes too," Dr. Alan J. Bauman, board-certified hair restoration physician in Boca Raton, Fla., told HealthPop.

Fad diets are typically very calorie-restrictive. This wreaks havoc with hair growth as the body defers nutrients to the more critical body functions. If someone is already at risk for hereditary hair loss, a crash diet might speed up his or her hair loss.

What are the best foods to keep hair healthy? With help from Dr. Bauman, keep clicking to see 10 foods that help keep your locks long and strong...

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

Salmon

When it comes to foods that pack a beauty punch, it's hard to beat salmon, Dr. Bauman says. Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, this high-quality protein source is also filled with vitamin B-12 and iron. Vegetarian? Include one or two tablespoons of ground flaxseed in your daily diet for some plant-based omega-3 fats to keep your hair strong.

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

Dark Green Vegetables

"Popeye the Sailor Man" didn't eat all that spinach for healthy hair, but he could have. Spinach, like broccoli and Swiss chard, is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, which the body needs to produce sebum. Sebum is an oily substance that's secreted by hair follicles, sort of like the body's natural hair conditioner. Dark green vegetables also provide iron and calcium which boost hair health.

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

Beans

Legumes such as kidney beans and lentils should be an important part of your hair-care diet, says Dr. Bauman. Not only do they provide plentiful protein to promote hair growth, but ample iron, zinc, and biotin. While rare, biotin deficiencies can result in brittle hair.

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

Nuts

Do you go nuts for thick, shiny hair? You should. Brazil nuts are one of nature's best sources of selenium, an important mineral for scalp health. Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that may help condition hair. They are also a terrific source of zinc, as are cashews, pecans, and almonds. A zinc deficiency can lead to hair shedding, so make sure nuts are a regular on your healthy hair menu.

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

Poultry

meat, cutting board, knife, cut, generic, stock"Chickens and turkeys contain high-quality proteins that will help give you the healthy hair," Dr. Bauman says. Protein deficiencies can cause weak brittle hair and extreme deficiency can lead to a loss of hair color. Poultry also provides iron with a high degree of bioavailability, meaning the hair and body can easily reap its benefits.

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

Eggs

eggs, stockWhen it comes to healthy hair, it doesn't matter whether you like your eggs scrambled, fried, or over easy. However they're served up, eggs are one of the best protein sources you can find. They also contain biotin and vitamin B-12, which are important beauty nutrients.

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

Whole Grains

Sink your teeth into hearty whole grains, including whole-wheat bread and fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals, for a hair-healthy dose of zinc, iron, and B vitamins.

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

Oysters

The key to oysters' hair-boosting abilities is zinc - a powerful antioxidant that improves hair health. If oysters don't make a regular appearance on your dinner plate, don't despair. In addition to getting it from whole grains and nuts, you can also get zinc from beef and lamb.

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

Low-Fat Dairy Products

yogurt, eat, woman, istockphoto, 4x3Skim milk and yogurt are great sources of calcium, an important mineral for hair-growth. They also contain whey and casein, two high-quality protein sources. For some healthy hair foods "to-go," try bringing along a yogurt or cottage cheese cup. People can boost their hair benefits even more by stirring in a couple of tablespoons of ground flaxseeds or walnuts for omega-3 fatty acids and zinc.

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

Carrots

Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, which promotes a healthy scalp along with good vision. "Since a healthy scalp is essential for a shiny, well-conditioned head of hair, you'd be wise to include carrots in your diet as snacks or toppings on your salad," says Dr. Bauman