By: Guest Writer, Nina DiBona-Pauk, RD, LDN

Strong, shiny red hair starts at the scalp.  A healthy scalp is a result of proper hygiene, cosmetic products, and YES—nutrition!

You may have heard the buzz on Omega-3’s* in reference to heart health (among a plethora of other benefits), but did you know they couldimprove the appearance of your red locks?

Omega-3’s are a type of essential fatty acid (EFA).

“Essential” meaning they must be obtained through diet, because we cannot synthesize them within our bodies. So how can these healthy fats help improve the appearance of our hair?

EFA’s are important components of the stratum corneum, the outer most layer of our epidermis.  Though the main function of the stratum corneum is to provide a protective barrier, this layer of our skin also has water-holding capabilities that help keep the scalp hydrated.

Lack of sufficient EFA’s in your diet could cause dry scalp and/or dandruff, leaving your fiery-red locks looking listless, dull, and plagued with flakes.

If you have the right amount of EFA’s, you could see thicker, stronger and shinier red hair.

So how can redheads maintain a healthy stratum corneum?

Make an effort to get enough Omega-3’s in your diet.  Aim for 7-11 grams of these healthy fats each week.  Below is a list of common food sources of Omega-3’s.

Salmon (4 oz): 1.7 grams Omega 3’s

Bluefish (4 oz): 1.7 grams Omega 3’s

Sardines (4 oz): 1.8 grams Omega 3’s

Mackerel (4 oz): 2.2 grams Omega 3’s

Walnuts (1 oz): 2.6 grams Omega 3’s

Walnut oil (1 Tablespoon): 1.4 grams Omega 3’s

Flax seeds (1 oz): 1.8 grams Omega 3’s

Flax oil (1 Tablespoon): 6.9 grams Omega 3’s

Cod liver oil (1 Tablespoon): 3.7 grams Omega 3’s

If fish, nuts and seeds don’t spark your interest (or you have allergies or diet restrictions), a supplement will keep your scalp just as healthy.

Aim for a supplement that will help you hit the recommended 7-11 grams/week.

Rock it like a Redhead! 

*All of this should be discussed with your doctor before changing your diet.