Vegetarian / Vegan Diets and Hair Health
As with any diet, we recommend that you optimise your nutrient intake through the foods available to you, in order to keep your hair healthy and strong. Balanced and varied vegan and vegetarian meals will help sustain healthy hair growth, and help prevent hair shedding and hair loss.
Please read on for information about how to make a vegetarian or vegan diet work best for your hair.
Proteins and Vegetarian / Vegan Diets
A vegetarian or vegan diet should try to include a wide-range of high-protein foods. This will help you obtain adequate proteins for hair-cell renewal (as well as general nourishment).
Your body uses proteins to build tissue cells — including the cells of your hair, skin and nails. Eighty to eighty-five percent of your hair is composed of a protein called keratin. Dietary proteins are your hair’s building blocks — they make your hair strong and help keep it in its growing (anagen) phase.
However, because hair is a non-essential tissue, its needs are not prioritised by your body. Even the slightest deficit of protein in your diet is likely to show up first in your hair — usually in the form of excessive shedding, brittleness, and strands that will not grow past a certain length.
If you experience hair loss from lack of protein, try not to worry — this is reversible, and relatively easy to correct with adjustments to your diet. For a start, we suggest including at least 120g of a protein with breakfast and lunch.
Good Plant-Based Sources of Protein
In order to ingest all of the amino acids (proteins) your hair requires, you need to eat a variety of different plant proteins. The following are some examples of the best plant-based sources of protein.
Quinoa (contains all essential amino acids)
Tofu and soy products, such as edamame and tofu burgers
If you are a vegetarian and can tolerate lactose, we suggest you try to take advantage of cheese and milk products for extra protein. Fish and eggs are also excellent sources of protein if your vegetarian diet allows them. Eggs in fact contain all essential amino acids, as do quinoa and whey. We refer to these as 'perfect proteins'.
Iron and Vegetarian / Vegan Diets
Iron is a mineral that is crucial to our health. Its most important function in our body is to aid in the production of red blood cells. These cells carry oxygen (haemoglobin) around the body via our bloodstream to all our tissues and organs. Iron also optimises energy levels, nourishes your muscles (including your heart), and helps your immune system. In other words, it is an all-round essential for your general fitness and well-being.
If you do not have enough iron in your body, you may develop a condition called iron deficiency anaemia. This can cause your hair to shed.
Good Plant-Based Sources of Iron
Please note, only about 10% of the iron content of a plant is absorbed by the body. Therefore you may want to consider taking an iron supplement if your levels are low.
Dark leafy greens such as spinach, okra, kale and broccoli
Dried fruits such as apricots, prunes and figs
Dark treacle or molasses
Cereals fortified with iron
Vitamin B12 and Vegetarian / Vegan Diets
Vitamin B12 is used by every cell in the body. It helps keep your nervous system functioning normally and plays an important role in DNA production. Crucially for your hair, it helps your body metabolise amino acids (the building blocks of hair). It also helps keep your red blood cells healthy, allowing them to supply adequate oxygen to your tissues (including your hair follicles).
Lack of vitamin B12 (called Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anaemia) may cause your hair to fall out.
Sources of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is not found in vegetable or plant sources. However, it is present in milk and eggs — so if your vegetarian diet allows, these are good options. If you are a vegan, there are many good soy milks and cereals that are fortified with B12. You may also wish to take a supplement.
Nutritional Supplements and Vegetarian / Vegan Diets
It can be difficult for anyone to eat a balanced diet all the time. Nutritional supplements, in the form of tablets, capsules and liquids, can be useful boosters to any diet, including vegetarian and vegan ones.
At Philip Kingsley, the most common deficiencies our experts see in vegan and vegetarian diets are: calcium, iron, protein, zinc, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B6. The best way to determine whether your diet is lacking in a certain nutrient is to ask your GP to perform a blood test. Based on the results, you can ask your doctor or Trichologist to suggest vegetarian / vegan supplements that will be beneficial to your hair (and body).
Please consult with your doctor or nutritionist before making any changes to your diet.
Philip Kingsley Vegan Nutritional Supplements for Hair
At Philip Kingsley, our expert Trichologists have formulated 2 vegan-friendly supplements specifically designed to help your hair grow as strong, long and beautiful as it can. If you would like to see some testimonials, please take a look at our excellent reviews. Please note, due to the nature of the hair growth cycle, it may take a minimum of three months before results are visible.
PK4 Protein Boost
PK4 Protein Boost is our best-selling dietary supplement. It is specially formulated to help support full, healthy hair from the inside out. Ideal for those with a low protein diet, it delivers a boost of essential amino acids, which your body can use to produce keratin, the main component of your hair. For best results, take for a minimum of three months. Four capsules provide 1600mg Soya Protein Isolate Powder, from which 1354mg is Soya Protein.