Certain vegan-friendly foods can increase hair health and your overall health. Zinc, protein, biotin and essential fatty acids are the key nutrients to provide your body and scalp with what it needs to directly affect the quality of your hair. These nutrients are abundant in meat and dairy products, so it may not be obvious what to eat if you have a vegan diet; however, there are numerous options.
Vegetables and Fruits
The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends eating 35 mcg to 60 mcg of biotin each day. You can find the highest amounts of biotin in chard, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, carrots and avocado. Boil the chard for about three minutes to eliminate the high amounts of oxylic acid in it. The boiling will not eliminate the biotin as it is not effected by heat. Vegetables that have less but are good sources of biotin include cucumber, cauliflower and onions. Raspberries and strawberries contain some biotin and are the main fruits for healthy hair. Most vegetables have a small amount of protein, so eat a variety along with legumes, grains, nuts and seeds to obtain a sufficient amount.
Canned baked beans are one of the best vegan foods for zinc, just make sure it is not cooked with lard and has no pieces of pork in it. Chickpeas and soybeans provide a good amount of zinc, and lentils and soybeans offer a high amount of protein--18 to 22 g per cup.
Fortified cereals can contain a large amount of zinc. The recommended daily intake of zinc is 11 g for men and 8 g for women. Whole wheat and wheat berry bread can be excellent sources of biotin, if they are sprouted. Oats contain a good amount of biotin. Quinoa has a large amount of protein, especially when sprouted.
Nuts and Seeds
A 1-oz. serving of dry roasted cashews, pumpkin seeds or tahini paste, which is made from sesame seeds, offers a good amount of zinc. Ground flaxseed can provide you with a vegan source of omega-3 essential fatty acids as it is usually found in fish. If you have whole flaxseeds make sure to grind them so that your body can absorb them. Another form of flaxseed is flax oil, which is effective for hair loss, but does not contain the beneficial fiber that the flaxseed meal does. An alternative to flaxseed is walnuts. The suggested amount of omega-3 oils is one-third the amount of your omega-6 intake. The average American eats a whopping 14 to 25 times more omega-6 than omega-3. The source most commonly associated with omega-6 is vegetable oil.