According to the American Hair Loss Association, by the age of 50, almost 85% of all men as well as 40% of all women experience hair thinning1.
For women, the most common cause of hair thinning is female pattern hair loss (FPHL), which is a condition of permanent hair loss from the scalp, causing baldness1.
Hair loss can take a toll on one’s emotional well-being and level of confidence.
Luckily, literature has shown that vegetarian food rich in certain nutrients, can help strengthen the hair and make it appear stronger, shinier, and full of bounce! Let's dive into how you can still have healthy hair growth on a vegetarian diet! And avoid slow hair growth!
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What nutrient should you focus for vegetarian hair growth?
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Folic acid
- Biotin or vitamin H
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
Vegetarian hair growth is rooted in its ability to nourish the skin, body and hair with plentiful vitamins and minerals. Some of the most important vitamins include:
- Vitamin A is a group of compounds including retinol, retinal, retinoic acid and provitamin A carotenoids. Dietary vitamin A has been shown in previous studies to activate hair follicle stem cells2.
- Vitamin E is considered a potent antioxidant, whose deficiency leads to hemolytic anemias, neurologic findings and skin dryness2.
- Folic acid is typically found in leafy greens, and its deficiency is known to cause megaloblastic anemia2.
- Biotin, or vitamin H, is an important cofactor for carboxylation enzymes, and has been shown to increase DNA concentration and protein synthesis in isolated sheep hair follicles2.
- Vitamin D plays an important role in hair follicle cycling, and consequently hair growth2.
- Other important vitamins and minerals include selenium which plays a role in protection from oxidative damage, vitamin C2.
What foods promote vegetarian hair growth?
Berries have several beneficial compounds and vitamins that help with hair growth. One vitamin that is prevalent in berries is vitamin C, which has strong antioxidant properties3.
This antioxidant property protects hair follicles against damage from harmful molecules, known as free radicals. Vitamin C produces collagen, which is a protein that helps strengthen hair, and also aids in the absorption of iron3.
Low iron levels may cause anemia, which is linked to hair loss. Iron helps feed the hair follicle and offers a nutrient rich blood supply. What’s more, berries are an easy and delicious addition to snacks like ice-cream, yogurt, or granola, and taste refreshing as smoothies!
Nuts are packed with a variety of nutrients including vitamin E, B vitamins, zinc and essential fatty acids3. One ounce of almonds provides almost 37% of the body’s daily vitamin E needs3!
Walnuts are also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which is a nutrient that lines the scalp and boosts hydration for hair3.
Nuts are also a great source of protein. Hair is mostly made up of protein, so a diet that is low in proteins may cause hair loss. The body needs ideally 60-80 grams of protein, so it is especially important to consume nuts especially for vegetarians3.
Almond milk is a great non-dairy source of calcium, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin E. Most almond milk also contains Vitamin D which in addition to promoting hair growth, is also optimal for bone health4.
Cacao is another superfood that is packed with iron, zinc, protein, magnesium as well as a few B vitamins that help the hair grow long and stay strong5. Cacao also contains proanthocyanins, which are compounds that promote hair growth5.
Proanthocyanins help induce what is known as the “anagen phase” of hair growth. Anagen is the active growth phase of hair follicles where the hair root multiplies significantly5.
Leafy green vegetables including spinach, kale, watercress and collards also help fight brittle hair, as it is packed with iron, vitamin A and folate, which are essential to keep the hair moisturized6.
These greens also contain calcium, magnesium and potassium, and are also water-rich so that they don’t dehydrate the body, and provide an alkaline environment that helps clear out toxins in the body6.
Orange Root Vegetables
Orange vegetables, including sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin and winter squash all contain high amounts of vitamin A which support the nails, hair and skin.
These foods are rich in vitamin C, which as mentioned, is an antioxidant that can help lower stress that weakens collagen, elastin and keratin in the body6.
When cooking orange vegetables, it is advised to always steam, bake or cook in a slow cooker instead of fry them, as it helps enhance their antioxidant content6.
Pumpkin seeds are another superfood for hair growth as they are rich in protein, iron, magnesium, potassium, biotin and omega 3 fatty acids. Like almonds and leafy greens, they are alkaline-forming7.
Consuming just ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds a day, or even using pumpkin seed oil on the scalp is a great way to nourish the hair, nails and skin7!
Avocados are another moisturizing food for hair growth as they contain natural oils and both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids8. Avocados are also rich in vitamins, which help nourish the scalp and help the hair look healthy and shiny.
Avocados also contain biotin as well as B-complex vitamin which helps the hair grow more healthily. Like pumpkin seeds, avocado oil is also very nourishing for the hair as the potassium and magnesium minerals can help seal cuticle cells, which help the hair look smoother and shiner8.
Avocados can be used along with coconut oil, or along with olive oil and lemon juice, or along with aloe vera for application to the hair8.
In summary, vegetarian food is packed with several vitamins and minerals that can be consumed raw, steamed, baked, or even blended! They can also be made into hair oils and skin treatments in one’s own kitchen.
It is important to close by saying that having a healthy lifestyle, that includes exercise, sleep, and a well-balanced social life, alongside eating these healthy foods, can only help accomplish one’s desire to have healthy locks of hair.
- Emling, S. (2017, December 08). Foods to eat for hair loss, nutrition for thinning hair. Retrieved September 15, 2021, from https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2017/thinning-hair-fd.html
- Almohanna, H., Ahmed, A., Tsatalis, J., & Tosti, A. (2019, March). The role of vitamins and minerals in hair loss: A Review. Retrieved September 15, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6380979/
- Raman, R. (2018, April 09). The 14 best foods for hair growth. Retrieved September 15, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-for-hair-growth#TOC_TITLE_HDR_3
- Caring for Your Hair and Skin in Menopause. (2020, May 11). Retrieved September 15, 2021, from https://www.cuyunamed.org/wellness/caring-your-hair-and-skin-menopause
- Timesofindia.com. (2020, May 23). What do the researchers say? Retrieved September 15, 2021.
- McClees, H. (2020, November 16). 5 everyday superfoods for your nails, hair, and skin. Retrieved September 15, 2021, from https://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/everyday-superfoods-for-your-nails-hair-and-skin/
- Link, R. (2021, June 10). What is Pumpkin Seed Oil? Nutrition, benefits, and uses. Retrieved September 15, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/pumpkin-seed-oil
- Gallagher, G. (2019, August 30). Avocado hair masks: 7 do-it-yourself recipes for nourishing hair. Retrieved September 15, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/avocado-hair-mask#benefits