A well balanced diet containing all essential vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats can keep hair healthy. It's necessary to hone the nutrient intake through the food we eat to make sure it is healthy for the hair. A nutritious diet can help sustain healthy hair growth, prevent hair shedding and hair loss. Below are certain essential nutrients and minerals required for healthy hair.
Proteins are the building blocks for your hair. Hair needs an adequate amount of protein as energy for hair cell renewal and nourishment. If your diet lacks protein, your hair is the first thing that will suffer. This is why it is necessary to include a wide-range of high-protein foods in your diet. Having a protein-rich diet also helps other tissues of the body such as your heart, liver and lungs.
Some examples of plant-based sources of proteins include quinoa, tofu, seitan, lentils, nuts, coconut, white beans and more. You could also take advantage of cheese, milk, fish and eggs which are also great sources of protein.
For healthy hair and hair growth, good levels of iron and stored iron (also known as ferritin) are essential. Red meat contains the most iron and is a great source. For vegetarians however, some of the plant-based sources of iron include beets, leafy vegetables like spinach, okra, kale, broccoli, watercress, prune juice, soy beans, almonds and fruits such as dried apricots, prunes and figs. However, iron from plant-based sources is not easily absorbed by the body and it may be good to consider taking an iron supplement if your levels are low.
Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient for hair growth. It is not in vegetables or plants but can be found in milk and eggs. For vegans, there are many good soy milks and cereals fortified with B12. Supplements for Vitamin B12 can also be considered.
It can be difficult to have a balanced diet at all times, especially with a vegetarian diet, and this is when supplements are helpful. Vegetarian diets usually lack in calcium, iron, protein, zinc and Vitamins D, B12 and B6. However, it is crucial to choose the right combination and be careful not to take too much of any supplement. For example, excessive of Vitamin A can cause hair loss. Blood tests are helpful indicators of levels of iron, zinc or B12.
With thanks to Mike Ryan, Trichologist, Clear Arabia.