Oysters are rich in zinc, a lack of which can lead to hair loss (even in your eyelashes), as well as a dry, flaky scalp. Three ounces has a whopping 493% of your daily value. You can get some zinc through fortified cereals and whole grain breads, but oysters can boast a good level of protein too. "Remember, hair is about 97% protein," Drayer says. Without enough protein, your body can't replace the hairs that you naturally shed every day and what you do make can be dry, brittle, or weak.
Other options: Get your fill of zinc with nuts, beef, and eggs.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a great source of the antioxidant beta carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A. "Basically, every cell of the body cannot function without enough A," Fishman says. It also helps protect and produce the oils that sustain your scalp, and being low on vitamin A can even leave you with itchy, irksome dandruff.
Other options: Carrots, cantaloupe, mangoes, pumpkin, and apricots are all good sources of beta carotene.
A great source of protein, eggs are loaded with four key minerals: zinc, selenium, sulfur, and iron. Iron is especially important, because it helps cells carry oxygen to the hair follicles, and too little iron (anemia) is a major cause of hair loss, particularly in women, Drayer says.
Other options: You can also boost your iron stores with animal sources, including chicken, fish, pork, and beef.
The iron, beta carotene, folate, and vitamin C in spinach help keep hair follicles healthy and scalp oils circulating.
Other options: Try similarly nutrient-rich dark, leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and Swiss chard.
Tiny but mighty, these legumes are teeming with protein, iron, zinc, and biotin, says Fishman, making it a great staple for vegetarian, vegans, and meat eaters.
Other options: Toss other beans such as soybeans (the young ones are called edamame) and kidney beans into your soup or salad.
8. Greek yogurt
Cruise the dairy aisle for low-fat options such as Greek yogurt, which is high in hair-friendly protein, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid -- an ingredient you'll often see on hair care product labels), and vitamin D. Emerging research links vitamin D and hair follicle health, but exactly how that works isn't clear, Fishman says.
Other options: Cottage cheese, low-fat cheese, and skim milk also fit the bill.