For anyone that has been reading this blog for a while, you’ll have noticed that I’ve been letting my hair grow long for quite some time now while being on a vegan diet.
In 2012 my hair was just around my neck, but now when straightened out, it’s past waist length. That is a lot of hair growth in just two years!
It’s easy to grow long hair on a vegan diet when you give your body what it needs. Supplements can be very helpful, as a vegan diet can be short in some nutrients which will cause slow hair growth if not addressed.
If you’re new to veganism, I’d recommend checking out my guide to starting a vegan diet for beginners. I go into more detail about the nutrients you need to watch out for and what you should supplement.
I also have a post on a healthy vegan breakfast to help improve skin and hair growth.
So anyway, I’ve been experimenting with two things in the last few months: licorice root extract and spearmint tea. Both of these are able to decrease testosterone, but more importantly, it lowers levels of DHT, which is the hormone that causes androgenetic alopecia
They are weak inhibitors compared to medications, but they can help slow down hair loss if it’s caused by high androgen levels. Women with PCOS may benefit from taking these supplements according to some research.
Hair Growth Since Going On A Vegan Diet
Since going vegan, I had expected my hair growth to slow down a lot, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. Even when I became vegetarian back in 2007, my hair was pretty good and wasn’t affected in a negative way by the diet.
I always pay close attention to getting all the vitamins and minerals I need in my diet, and then I’ll supplement where needed.
One of the supplements that I’ve felt has helped me a lot is called Hair Anew. I’ve recently written an article here on vegan hair supplements and how they can be beneficial for improving hair quality and growth.
My hair is thicker and healthier than ever before, and that’s probably down to how I care for it and the fact that I make sure I’m eating well and taking supplements. I also now have my hair trimmed a little every now and then to remove split ends, so it looks even better these days compared to the photos I’ve shared here (I’ll update with new photos soon!).
But anyway, despite my results, I’ve heard people often say that vegans tend to have thin hair. There can be many reasons for this, for example, going on the diet might cause some problems because of a sudden change in your diet, weight, or hormone levels. In fact, any sudden change can shock the body.
However, once you’ve been on the diet for a while, the new hair that grows should be healthier than before. 🙂
There are also many other factors which are unrelated to a vegan diet that can cause thinning hair. These include things such as stress, illness, childbirth, and autoimmune diseases.
Should Vegans Take Supplements To Grow Long Hair?
Maintaining a good balance of minerals like copper and zinc is very important, especially for someone on a plant-based diet.
Zinc is very important for hair growth. In fact, it might be one of the main reasons why some people experience poor hair quality and poor hair growth after they transition to a vegan diet.
Vegans can easily become deficient in zinc for a couple of reasons: firstly, copper interferes with zinc absorption, and a healthy diet which is primarily focused on fruits and vegetables will contain a lot of copper Secondly, many vegans don’t eat zinc-rich foods like legumes.
Zinc is far more abundant in animal foods like meat and fish, therefore, one should be careful and supplement when necessary. Studies show that almost half of vegans are deficient in this important mineral.
Consuming essential fats such as omega 3 is also very important in maintaining healthy hair and many vegans don’t get enough. If you want to increase your omega 3 intake, check out some of the best alternative omega 3 sources here.
Making sure that you’re getting an adequate amount of Vitamin B12 is also crucial. You cannot get this vitamin on a vegan diet and so it should always be supplemented.
It’s important to remember that the more restrictive your diet becomes, the more attention you have to make sure you’re meeting all the recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals.
Biotin is also a very popular vitamin known to improve hair growth. The main sources of biotin are usually from animal products, so it’s not uncommon for vegans to have a low intake of this vitamin.
Many people who take biotin supplements have reported that they have better and stronger hair growth (and stronger nails too!). However, you should be careful when taking high doses of biotin (5000 mcg or more) because it can cause acne breakouts.
If you take high dose biotin supplements for faster hair growth, you definitely should also take zinc, as it can help prevent acne.
Alternatively, there are vitamin supplements available which don’t contain biotin or only contain 100% of the RDA. These are far less likely to cause acne in people prone to breaking out.
Here are a few basic tips on looking after your hair to keep it looking healthy!
- Train yourself to wash less frequently – At first this might be difficult because of the oil build up, but eventually, the scalp adapts and starts producing less oil. The more you wash out the natural oils, the more the scalp will respond by secreting more. Also, frequent washing can cause your hair to break and become brittle.
- Don’t always tie your hair back – Try to wear hairstyles that won’t pull on your hair too much, as this is can be a cause of hair thinning in some people.
- Never brush your hair when it’s wet – I see people do this all the time and it’s one of the worst things you can do for your hair. Wait until your hair has dried a bit first before you brush it. Or you can buy a ‘wet brush’ that is very soft and won’t damage the hair.
- Start from the bottom – Hold the hair above the point where you’re brushing and start brushing at the tips of the hair and work your way up to the roots. Take your time and don’t be too aggressive.
- Try to let your hair dry naturally without heat – If you have to use a hairdryer, use a low heat setting. And if you use any sort of heat styling, use heat protection sprays.
- Take a vegan multivitamin – I already mentioned this, but it’s very important that you get all the essential nutrients in your diet. Try taking supplements to see if they make a difference. Here are some supplements for hair growth (This link goes to my hair website).
- Use a clarifying shampoo or anti-residue shampoo – Every week or two I recommend that you use a mild anti-residue shampoo. This will take away all the product build up that is making the hair seem more dull and limp. If you’ve ever noticed that your shampoo doesn’t seem to work as well, this is one of the main reasons why (product build up).
- Don’t bleach your hair – It goes without saying, this is one of the worst things you can do to your hair.
- Use sulfate-free shampoos
- Use a decent quality hairbrush
#1. Hair Anew – Supplement for hair, skin, and nails
Hair Anew is aimed to address the deficiencies which may cause slow hair growth. It contains a combination of herbs, vitamins, and minerals, making it a great supplement to take if you’re trying to improve your hair growth and make it look more healthy and strong.
Biotin – The supplement contains a large dose of biotin (5000 mcg). Biotin is one of the most well-known ingredients for improving hair growth and strength.
Zinc – This mineral can be low in vegan diets and can lead to hair fall and other health problems. If you’re eating a lot of plant-based foods, high intakes of copper in the diet may cause secondary zinc deficiency. I really love that they’ve included zinc in the supplement, as it can help prevent acne. Some people are prone to getting breakouts with biotin, but this can be prevented by taking zinc for some people.
Vitamin C – Important for helping build and strengthen collagen and keratin in the hair.
Silica – Promotes strength of protein fibers, collagen and helps skin, nails, and hair stay youthful looking.
Ginko – Improves blood flow to the skin and hair follicles to deliver nutrients for well-nourished hair follicles.
This has become one of my favorite hair supplements and one that I will often recommend to other vegans.
#2. Deva Vitamins For Growing Hair
Deva hair supplement is a budget hair vitamin, but it does contain a lot for the price.
I would recommend this supplement only as a ‘next best option’ for vegans who want a hair supplement but are on a budget. It contains many different vitamins and minerals which are known to help support and promote hair growth.
The supplement goes for a conservatively low dose of each vitamin and mineral. It only contains about 500 mcg of Biotin, which is very low if you compare it with HairAnew which has 5000 mcg!
Deva hair vitamins also contain just 200 IU of vitamin D2, which is a very tiny amount considering it’s recommended we get at least 1000 IU a day.
On the plus side, Deva Hair Vitamins contains different plant/herb extracts such as horsetail, fenugreek and others which can help boost hair growth.
#3. Vitamin D3 and B12 Gummies for Vegans
One of the main risks of being vegan is the development of a B12 deficiency.
It is crucial that all vegans take a vitamin B12 supplement or risk serious health consequences. B12 is cheap and easily available and comes in different forms.
Several studies have now shown that the majority of vegans who do not supplement are either deficient or critically low in B12.
Two findings from recent studies looking at levels of B12 in vegans:
- 52% of vegans were deficient in vitamin B12 when measuring levels of B12 in the blood.
- In another study where they measured levels of MMA (a better measurement of B12 status), they found 92% of vegans had very low levels of B12!
Therefore, it is extremely important that all vegans get vitamin B12 somehow. Supplementing is perfectly fine and is very safe.
Vitamin D3 is also very important for good hair growth. Low levels of 25(OH)D3 can lead to many health issues, including hair thinning.
Vegan foods for hair growth
Below is a list of vegan foods that will help your hair growth and make it look shiny and healthy. 🙂
I recommend that you try to get most of your nutrients from diet before thinking about supplementing.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy greens like spinach and kale are packed with minerals that help support hair growth. They provide minerals like copper, potassium, magnesium, and iron. They are also loaded with vitamin A and vitamin C. It’s easy to consume lots of leafy greens every day by using them in a green smoothie!
Beans are a great source of protein for a vegan. There are many different varieties to choose from and go well with many different dishes. Beans also help you control blood sugar because of their fiber. The hair is made up of protein, and beans are a great way to get what you need.
Oatmeal is one of the best ways to start the day. Around 100 grams of oatmeal will get you up to 500 mg of silica. These minerals will help improve the quality and strength of your hair. Eating fruits and nuts with your oatmeal is also a great idea to pack in some extra nutrition into your meal.
Sweet Potatoes are one of the richest sources of beta-carotene. Some beta-carotene will get converted to vitamin A by the body. Vitamin A deficiency can cause poor skin (scalp and face) and poor hair quality. Vitamin A is also essential for cell growth and differentiation.
Avocado is high in fat, but the good kind. Eating an Avocado every day or even just a few times a week will make your hair appear shinier because it contains fatty acids such as ALA, which can be converted to EPA and DHA.
Green tea is very high in antioxidants like EGCG. Green tea also helps block DHT which is a hormone that can attack hair follicles and cause androgenetic alopecia.
Green Tea is thought to inhibit 5 alpha-reductase (type 1), so it may improve hair and skin health. The beverage also contains l-theanine, which helps relax you by increasing alpha waves in the brain. Add some ginger to increase the anti-inflammatory power of the drink!
Many vegans love having long hair and there is no reason why you can’t maintain healthy locks while also being vegan. If you’re experiencing slow hair growth or hair loss, it may be caused by nutrient deficiencies which can be fairly common on the diet.
As long as you’re consuming a wide range of healthy fruits and vegetables, while making sure that you supplement some key minerals and vitamins that are short on a vegan diet, you’ll be able to grow thick and healthy hair!
Article reviewed and updated: May 2019.