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Does kale help hair growth?

Kale has become an increasingly popular superfood in recent years due to its stellar nutritional profile. This leafy green is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds that can provide a variety of health benefits. One area of interest is whether kale can help promote hair growth and improve hair health. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the potential effects of kale on hair.

The Nutrients in Kale That May Benefit Hair

Kale contains a variety of nutrients that play important roles in hair growth and health. Some of the key nutrients include:

  • Vitamin A – This fat-soluble vitamin is essential for hair follicle health. It helps regulate the production of sebum, which moisturizes the scalp and keeps hair hydrated and conditioned.
  • Vitamin C – This antioxidant helps improve blood circulation in the scalp to stimulate hair growth. It also plays a role in collagen production, which is vital for healthy hair strands.
  • Iron – Ferritin, the stored form of iron, has been associated with hair loss. Adequate iron intake can help prevent iron deficiency and related hair shedding.
  • Vitamin K – This vitamin is involved in protein synthesis and blood clotting. It may help deliver nutrients to the hair follicles.
  • Vitamin E – This antioxidant can help reduce oxidative damage to hair follicles and improve blood circulation.
  • Beta-carotene – The precursor to vitamin A, beta-carotene also has antioxidant properties that may protect hair follicles.

Additionally, kale contains small amounts of B vitamins like biotin, niacin, and folate that aid in cellular metabolism and tissue growth and repair.

Other Compounds in Kale That May Benefit Hair

In addition to vitamins and minerals, kale contains beneficial plant compounds like:

  • Sulforaphane – This compound has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that may help hair growth.
  • Kaempferol – This flavonoid has antioxidant properties that may improve scalp health.
  • Quercetin – This flavonoid may help improve blood flow to the scalp and deliver nutrients to hair follicles.
  • Lutein – This carotenoid antioxidant protects hair follicles from oxidative damage.

Studies on Kale’s Effects on Hair

While there’s little research directly testing kale’s effects on hair in humans, some animal studies provide insight:

Study Findings
Mice fed a diet high in sulforaphane had increased hair growth compared to a control group. Sulforaphane may help reduce scalp inflammation to create a better environment for hair growth.
Rat pups born to mothers deficient in iron had altered hair follicle gene expression and slowed hair growth. Adequate iron intake is important for proper hair follicle function.
Mice treated with lutein had increased dermal thickness, more hair follicles, and longer anagen (growth) phase than untreated mice. Lutein protected hair follicles from cell damage and premature catagen (regression) phase.

While more research is needed, these studies show promise that compounds like sulforaphane, iron, and lutein may help promote hair growth and scalp health.

Potential Benefits of Kale for Hair

Based on its robust nutritional profile and promising research, some potential benefits of eating more kale for hair health include:

  • May promote hair growth – Compounds like sulforaphane and lutein may help prolong the growth phase of hair follicles.
  • May reduce hair shedding – Iron and other nutrients help prevent nutrient deficiency-related hair shedding.
  • May improve scalp health – The antioxidants in kale may reduce inflammation and oxidative damage to hair follicles and the scalp.
  • May protect hair color – Antioxidants help limit oxidation of melanin and prevent premature graying.
  • May strengthen hair strands – Compounds like vitamin C and quercetin improve collagen production for more resilient hair.

How to Add More Kale Into Your Diet

To maximize kale’s potential benefits for hair, aim to eat it regularly as part of a balanced diet. Here are some simple ways to eat more kale:

  • Add raw kale to smoothies, salads, and sandwiches
  • Sauté or stir-fry kale with olive oil and garlic
  • Make kale chips as a healthy snack
  • Blend kale into soups, curries, and stews
  • Substitute kale for lettuce in wraps and tacos

Keep in mind that kale contains compounds called oxalates which can bind to calcium and reduce absorption. To minimize this effect, avoid eating raw kale every day. Light cooking helps reduce oxalates while maintaining the nutrients in kale.

Other Lifestyle Factors for Healthy Hair

While diet plays a key role, other lifestyle factors affect hair health as well. Some tips for supporting hair growth include:

  • Take a balanced vitamin supplement to prevent deficiencies
  • Manage stress with yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques
  • Exercise regularly to improve circulation
  • Avoid excess heat styling and overwashing hair
  • Stay hydrated and minimize alcohol intake

Be patient as it can take months to see a difference from dietary and lifestyle changes for hair. Consistency is key.

Should You Take a Kale Supplement for Hair?

Kale supplements like powders and capsules are popular, but likely unnecessary for hair health in most cases. Eating fresh kale provides a much higher concentration of beneficial compounds compared to supplements.

Supplements also lack the natural fiber and extensive nutrient profile of kale. For these reasons, focus on adding fresh kale to your meals whenever possible.

Supplements may be useful in certain situations where it’s difficult to get enough fresh kale, like for people following restrictive diets. But for most people, eating whole kale should sufficiently boost nutrient intake.


With its stellar nutritional profile packed with vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds, kale is a great ingredient to incorporate into a hair-healthy diet. Compounds like sulforaphane, iron, and lutein show particular promise for supporting hair growth and scalp health.

While research is still ongoing, eating fresh kale regularly together with other smart hair care practices may help boost hair growth and minimize shedding. Aim for 1-2 cups per week as part of a varied diet for the best shot at seeing benefits for your hair.