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Healthy hair for vegans – your guide to vitamins

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Eating well as a vegan isn’t difficult, but it can take some planning to get right. This is because certain important nutrients that our bodies need to stay healthy can be hard to find in vegan-friendly foods.

Not getting enough nutrients, or making sudden changes to your diet, may affect your general health and weight. One symptom may be a change to the appearance or thickness of your hair.

If you’re worried about your hair after changing to a vegan diet, taking vitamin supplements could help – although it’s generally best to see a GP first.

Which vitamins do I need to keep my hair healthy?

The short answer is: all of them! When you’re well nourished, your general health will be better, which will keep your hair looking its best. 

Having said that, there are certain vitamins and minerals that can be particularly important for healthy hair. If you have a deficiency of any of the following, you might experience some hair loss as a result:

It’s also thought that the B vitamin biotin may be linked to hair health.

What vegan foods can I eat to get essential nutrients for my hair?

Iron isn’t just found in liver and red meat – you can also get it in your diet by eating plenty of beans, nuts and dried fruit. If you struggle with these foods, try breakfast cereals fortified with iron.

Zinc is found in meat, shellfish and dairy foods, but it also occurs naturally in cereal products and bread.

Vitamin C is very vegan-friendly as it’s found in citrus fruits, peppers, berries, broccoli and even potatoes.

What are the best vegan hair vitamins?

If you think you’re not getting enough iron, zinc or vitamin C in your diet, you might find it helpful to take supplements for each of these. In addition, The Vegan Society suggests vegans take vitamin D, vitamin B12, iodine and selenium supplements each day or choosing fortified foods. As it’s hard to get these vitamins in a diet free from animal products.

There are plenty of vegan supplements on the market, many of which come as a multi-vitamins, making them really easy to take. Some of our favourites include:

In general, it’s a good idea to speak to your GP before you start taking new supplements, especially if you think you have a deficiency. In the case of an iron deficiency, your GP may want to prescribe iron tablets, which are stronger than supplements.

Can vitamins make your hair grow?

Making sure you’re properly nourished will help you maintain a healthy head of hair.

However, there isn’t much evidence to suggest that taking vitamins will actively make your hair grow quicker or thicker. Currently, there are only a couple of treatments proven to halt or reverse hair loss, these are minoxidil and finasteride.

Many types of hair loss are only temporary. Sometimes hair thinning can be caused by stress, sudden weight loss or illness, and only lasts for a few months.

What does a healthy vegan diet look like?

According to The Vegan Society’s Vegan Eatwell Guide, you’ll need to make sure you’re incorporating these key food groups into your daily diet:

  • Starchy carbohydrates – preferably high-fibre and wholegrain options
  • Varied fruits and vegetables – at least five portions each day
  • Protein sources e.g. lentils, beans, peas, nuts, seeds and soya products
  • Calcium-rich foods e.g. fortified oat or soya milks

When you make the switch to a vegan diet, it’s important to make sure you’re still eating the recommended amount of calories each day – 2,500 if you’re a man, and 2,000 if you’re a woman. You’ll also need to make sure that you’re doing regular exercise, in keeping with NHS guidelines.

If you’re struggling, make an appointment with your GP for advice. They may be able to refer you to a specialist dietician if you need help planning your diet and eating well.

References

https://onlinedoctor.lloydspharmacy.com/uk/hair-loss-advice/essential-nutrients-for-your-hair
www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/iron
www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/others
www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-c
https://www.vegansociety.com/The%20Vegan%20Eatwell%20Guide_2.pdf
www.nhs.uk/conditions/iron-deficiency-anaemia
www.alopecia.org.uk/telogen-effluvium
www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/understanding-calories