Essential Nutrients for Hair Growth and Where to Find them in a Vegan Diet

Essential Nutrients Needed For Hair Growth and Where to Find them in a Vegan Diet~

While diet plays an important role, the most damaging effects to your hair, are heat from hair dryers, curling irons, smoking and certain foods, like fish that are high in mercury, white junk foods, and sugars.

Below are some tips to keep your hair healthy on any diet.

Protein: Hair is made primarily of protein, so without enough protein coming into your body, it is hard to replace hair that naturally falls out. Soy, nuts, seeds and legumes are great options but a lot of vegetables contain protein as well. Stick non-processed soybeans like edamame, or fermented soy like tofu or tempeh. A plant-based protein powder like VEGA or Purium, or something made with pea protein or brown rice protein is another option to ensure adequate protein and usually contains many other vitamins and minerals essential to hair-growth, as listed below.
Omegas: Help moisturize your hair from the inside-out – your body cannot produce these essential fatty acids on its own. Make sure to incorporate walnuts, avocados, chia and flaxseed into your diet. You can also use coconut, olive or almond oil as hair masks. To get the perfect balance or Omega’s I recommend Udo’s Oil Omega 3-6-9. It is organic, vegan, non-GMO, and you can incorporate it by using a teaspoon a day in a smoothie, atop veggies, as a salad dressing, or even in your oatmeal.

Vitamin E: Helps improve elasticity and moisture to help your hair resist breakage and dryness. Found in almonds, walnuts, and flaxseeds.

L-lysine: Readily available in animal products, the main plant-based source is legumes like lentils and beans. Bean burgers, soups, and lentil tacos are some options to get started.

Iron: Because most plant-based sources of iron are non-heme, they are less readily digestible. So a vegan needs 1.8 times the recommended daily allowance (18 milligrams for women and 8 for men), to actually absorb enough iron. Pairing iron with vitamin C is a great way to increase absorption, try a Cacao + Orange snack or smoothie for this purpose! Kale is a great source of iron and also vitamin B.

Zinc: Nuts (especially Brazil), seeds, legumes, fortified foods like your milk. Helps with cell reproduction, tissue growth and repair, prevents dandruff. Women need 8 milligrams a day, men need 11.
Selenium: Found in Brazil nuts, deficiency of this antioxidant can be related to thinning hair.

B-12: This is a common deficiency for all people vegan or not, but there are limited sources of vegan B-12 you can find in a vegan diet especially. Either take one teaspoon spirulina or two tablespoons nutritional yeast per day, or 2 or 3 servings of fortified foods a day. It is also found in some tempeh, but it can be hard to get enough B-12 from these sources alone and it is safe to take a daily supplement. B-12 deficiency can also be related to graying hair. Strong and healthy hair relies on a constant supply of blood and oxygen, and B vitamins are essential in forming hemoglobin which ensures adequate supply around your whole body.

Beta-carotene: Orange vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots, and dark green vegetables supply this essential nutrient which is transformed by the body into Vitamin A. This is essential for cell growth and differentiation — especially necessary for scalp health.

Biotin: Another B-vitamin necessary for hair-growth – some swear by supplementation for hair and nail growth. You can also access biotin from walnuts, beans and lentils.

Written by: Sara Hoffman is a certified holistic health coach, fitness guru, vegan yogi. >>


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