Top 10 Diets for Hair growth: What Works and What Doesn’t17 min read

What you put on your plate is just as crucial – if not more – as the products you apply to your hair or scalp. The right diet can nourish your scalp and accelerate hair growth and improve overall quality of your hair. On the other hand, the wrong dietary choices might lead to hair loss, hair thinning and breakage. Here, we explore the top 10 diets for hair growth, highlighting which ones benefit your hair growth and ones that don’t.

1. Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet, renowned for its health benefits especially around cardiovascular health, is particularly beneficial for hair health due to its high content of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins. This diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, which are key to nurturing healthy hair. Let’s break it down:

Colorful displays and bustling activity at an Asian food market

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Essential for hair health, omega-3s are found in fatty fish like mackerel and sardines – typical for this diet – and in seeds like flaxseeds. They nourish the hair follicles, promote scalp health, and have anti-inflammatory properties that encourage hair growth. Research supports that omega-3 supplements can improve hair density.

Antioxidants: The Mediterranean diet’s rich variety of fruits like grapes, oranges, pomegranates – and vegetables like spinach, artichokes and tomatoes provides a strong antioxidant shield that also supports collagen production for hair structure and promotes hair growth. Vitamins C, a powerful anti-oxidant contained in oranges and vitamin E, that come from almonds, as well as selenium and flavonoids, combat oxidative stress in your scalp, a contributor to hair aging and loss.

Mediterranean diet is rich in vitamins: B, A, and D – which are crucial for hair growth and health. B vitamins, found in whole grain pasta and legumes like cannellini beans, garbanzo (chickpeas) and lentils –aid in hair growth. Vitamin A, from vegetables like carrots and spinach, produces sebum for scalp nourishment that gives the lustre and shine to your hair. Vitamin D, sourced from fatty fish and sunlight, is linked to new hair follicle creation.

Overall verdict for Mediterranean Diet: beneficial for hair growth.

(Le Floc’h et al., 2015).

(Amor KT, Rashid RM, & Mirmirani P, 2010)

(Gonzalez and Tosti, 2015)

2. Vegan (Plant-based) Diet

A vegan or plant-based diet eliminates consumption of animal-based and animal sourced products like meat, poultry, dairy, eggs and honey. Sounds pretty restrictive… But rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes, it can be beneficial for overall health due to its high fiber, low cholesterol content, and abundance of vitamins and minerals. These factors contribute to feeding your hair follicles from within. There is a culprit – the absence of animal products means potential deficiencies in key hair growth nutrients: vitamin B12, iron, and protein.

vegan diet for hair

Vitamin B12, essential for red blood cell production and oxygen delivery to the scalp, can come from fortified plant milks and nutritional yeast. Iron, crucial for carrying oxygen to hair roots, is abundant in lentils, spinach, and tofu, though it’s best absorbed when paired with vitamin C-rich foods. Protein and amino acids, the building blocks of hair, is available in lentils, beans, tofu, and nuts. Adequate protein intake can be a challenge for someone on a vegan diet trying to grow their hair. So you need to ensure sufficient protein in your nutrition approach for keratin production, hair strength and growth.

There are overall health benefits from a vegan diet such as low cholesterol and improvement in cardiovascular health. The latter is important as healthy blood flow ensures your hair follicles receive nutrients and oxygen to grow hair. People following a carefully planned plant-based diet reported increase in energy after following this diet for some time. Overall improvement of health and feeling of well-being can also lead to a reduction in stress levels – which is beneficial for hair growth.

Vegan diet offers health benefits that can enhance hair health. But it requires careful planning and possible supplementation to meet the needs for vitamin B12, iron, and protein, ensuring the hair remains healthy and vibrant.

Overall verdict for vegan diet for hair: good, but only with supplementation of vitamins and protein.

(Trüeb, 2018).

3. Vegetarian Diet

A well-planned vegetarian diet, which includes dairy and eggs alongside fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes, holds significant potential for supporting hair health. This diet offers a broader range of protein and iron sources than a strict vegan diet, making it easier to meet the nutritional requirements essential for maintaining strong, healthy hair.

Eggs are a particularly valuable component of the vegetarian diet for hair health due to their high content of sulfur and the essential amino acid methionine. Sulfur is a key element in keratin, the protein that hair is primarily made of, and plays a crucial role in the strength and elasticity of hair strands. Methionine aids in the production of collagen, which is vital for maintaining the scalp’s health and promoting hair growth. The inclusion of eggs not only provides a complete protein source but also directly supplies nutrients that support the structure and growth of hair.

Dairy products, another key element of the vegetarian diet, contribute beneficially to hair health by providing additional protein, vitamins B2, B12, and D, and calcium. These nutrients support hair follicle health and help in the keratin formation process. Non-flavoured full fat yoghurt is beneficial for hair health due to its content of probiotics which benefits your gut health. However you need to be careful with consuming too much dairy – as it carries a risk of increasing your cholesterol levels. Ensuring a varied intake of foods rich in iron, protein, vitamins, and minerals remains crucial for vegetarians to maintain healthy, vibrant hair.

Another thing to monitor on a vegetarian diet is intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Usually coming from fish oil, vegetarians should obtain omega-3 from plant-based sources like flaxseed and chia seeds.

Overall verdict for vegetarians trying to grow healthy hair: good, but ensure you supplement with omega-3s.

(Trüeb, 2018).

4. Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet attempts to imitate the diet of our ancestors in Palaeolithic era. Therefore it includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, offers a substantial intake of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, both essential for hair health. However it excludes whole grains, legumes and other produce that our Palaeolithic couldn’t get simply due to lack of agriculture.

Paleo diet is filled with varied animal-based protein sources – crucial for keratin production. Protein supports hair strength and growth, while omega-3 fatty acids coming from fish specifically enhance scalp health, promoting shinier and healthier hair. Despite these benefits, the Paleo diet’s exclusion of whole grains and legumes raises concerns about potential nutrient deficiencies, notably in dietary fiber and certain vitamins and minerals critical for hair and overall health.

In addition a higher intake of animal-based protein can raise concerns around high cholesterol. So be sure to consume lean meats if you’re following Paleo diet for hair growth.

While this diet provides plentiful of readily absorbable sources of iron from animal products, which is beneficial for hair health, it lacks the dietary fiber found in whole grains. Dietary fiber is essential not only for digestive health but also for maintaining a balanced gut microbiota, which plays a role in nutrient absorption and inflammation reduction within the body, including the scalp. The absence of whole grains could lead to a lower intake of fiber, which might necessitate supplementation or careful dietary planning to ensure adequate fiber intake.

Overall verdict for Paleo diet: high amount of protein is beneficial for hair growth, however fiber intake must be regulated.

(Simmons, 2012).

5. Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic (keto) diet, characterized by its high-fat, low-carbohydrate approach, aims to shift the body into ketosis, a state where fats are the primary energy source instead of carbohydrates. This diet emphasizes consuming healthy fats, moderate proteins, and minimal carbohydrates, focusing on foods like meats, fish, nuts, avocados, and certain vegetables that are low in carbs.

Keto diet emphasizes healthy fats from sources such as avocados and fatty fish to support overall well-being. It also includes moderate amounts of protein to provide the amino acids essential for hair growth. It avoids carbohydrate-rich foods like grains, sugars and high-carb fruits and vegetables.

The keto diet can aid in weight loss and may improve metabolic health. However, it carries potential risks for hair health, notably the chance of inducing telogen effluvium, a temporary hair loss condition. The diet’s restrictive nature can lead to deficiencies in vital hair nutrients such as biotin, vitamin E, iron, and zinc, undermining hair follicle health and growth. Moreover, the rapid weight loss often experienced on the keto diet can exert stress on the body, precipitating a shift in hair growth cycles and increased hair shedding.

Additionally, the keto diet’s low fiber content from the exclusion of certain fruits, vegetables, and whole grains might affect gut health and subsequent nutrient absorption, further impacting hair health.

To counteract these potential drawbacks, individuals following the keto diet should consider supplementing with essential vitamins and minerals, aim for a balanced protein and fat intake, and seek to lose weight gradually. Incorporating a variety of high-fibre vegetables and grains – like collard greens, cauliflower, chia seeds and nuts – can help alleviate nutrient deficiencies, supporting both overall and hair health within the diet’s constraints.

Overall verdict for keto for hair growth: can cause hair loss, ensure gradual weight loss and adequate intake of fibre.

(Paoli et al., 2013).

6. Low-Fat Diet

The low-fat diet, popularized in the late 20th century, emphasizes reducing fat intake to lower the risk of heart disease and aid in weight management. Originating from research suggesting a link between dietary fat, cholesterol levels, and heart health, this diet focuses on minimizing fats, especially saturated and trans fats.

In a low-fat diet, you should prioritize eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products. Foods high in saturated fats, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy, and certain oils, should be limited. While this approach can be beneficial for heart health and weight loss, it’s crucial to understand the role fats play in your body, including hair growth.

Fats are essential for maintaining healthy hair; they support scalp health and keep hair hydrated. A diet too low in fats may not provide enough essential fatty acids, such as omega-3s, which are crucial for hair strength and shine. Consequently, a strict low-fat diet might lead to drier, weaker hair.

Overall verdict for low fat diet: insufficient fat can lead to weaker hair prone to breakage and dry scalp.

7. DASH Diet

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is a nutrition plan developed in the 1990s, designed to combat high blood pressure without medication. Its origins trace back to research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which found that specific dietary patterns could significantly reduce blood pressure. The DASH diet emphasizes foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium—nutrients known to help lower blood pressure—and recommends reducing sodium intake.

hypertension diet for hair

On the DASH diet, you’re encouraged to eat:

  • Plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean proteins (including fish and poultry)
  • Nuts and legumes
  • Low-fat or non-fat dairy

Foods and substances you should limit include:

  • Red meat
  • Sweets and sugary beverages
  • High-sodium and processed foods
  • Saturated fats and cholesterol

While the primary goal of the DASH diet is to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease, its high emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can also have unintended benefits for hair growth. These food groups are rich in vitamins and minerals essential for hair health, such as iron, zinc, and B vitamins. However, the DASH diet’s moderate approach to fat consumption—especially limiting saturated fats—means it may not provide enough of the healthy fats needed for optimal hair health, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and some nuts. These fats are crucial for maintaining a healthy scalp and keeping hair hydrated, glossy, and strong.

To ensure the DASH diet supports hair growth, you might consider integrating sources of healthy fats, like avocados, olive oil, and fatty fish, into your dietary plan. This adjustment can help maintain the diet’s cardiovascular benefits while also promoting robust hair health.

Overall verdict for DASH diet: good for hair growth but only with sufficient amount of healthy fats.

8. Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF) is a dietary pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It doesn’t specify which foods you should eat but rather when you should eat them. Common methods include the 16/8 method, where you fast for 16 hours and eat during an 8-hour window, and the 5:2 method, which involves eating normally for five days of the week and reducing calorie intake on the other two days.

For women, intermittent fasting may require a more cautious approach. Hormonal balance is crucial for women’s health, and fasting can influence hormone levels, including those related to stress and hunger, such as cortisol and ghrelin. These changes can indirectly affect hair health, as hormonal imbalances are known to contribute to hair loss or thinning. Despite this, there’s limited research directly connecting intermittent fasting with hair growth or loss. Point to mention here is that if you are recovering from an eating disorder intermittent fasting can cause you to binge eat in the hours that you’re “allowed” to eat – which would put stress on your body as well as cause weight gain.

Although following the IF diet means that you’re not overloading your body with food – you should also be careful what you eat in the “eating” window. It’s vital to optimize nutrient intake to support hair health. A diet rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals, healthy fats, fibre and whole foods ensures that your body gets the nutrients it needs to maintain healthy hair.

While intermittent fasting can offer several health benefits, including weight loss and improved metabolic health, women practicing IF should monitor their body’s response closely, especially regarding hair health. Adjusting the fasting schedule or ensuring nutrient-rich food intake during eating windows can help balance the benefits of intermittent fasting with the need to maintain healthy, strong hair.

Overall verdict for Intermittent Fasting & hair: depends on the type of foods consumed in the “eating window” and watch out for the cortisol increase that can cause hair loss.

9. Gluten-Free Diet

A gluten-free diet eliminates all foods containing gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. This diet is essential for individuals with celiac disease, a condition where gluten ingestion leads to damage in the small intestine, and for those with gluten sensitivity, who experience adverse reactions to gluten without the autoimmune response seen in celiac disease.

For those affected, adopting a gluten-free diet can lead to significant improvements in gut health and nutrient absorption. Gluten can cause inflammation and damage to the intestinal lining if you are sensitive to you, leading to malabsorption of essential nutrients. Improved nutrient absorption after eliminating gluten can positively impact overall health, including hair health, by ensuring the body receives the necessary vitamins and minerals for hair growth and maintenance.

However, a gluten-free diet can also lead to nutritional deficiencies if not carefully managed. Common deficiencies include:

  • Fiber: Often lower in gluten-free diets due to the exclusion of whole grains.
  • Iron, Calcium, and B Vitamins: Gluten-containing grains are primary sources of these nutrients in many diets.
  • Zinc and Magnesium: May also be lower in gluten-free diets.

These nutrients play critical roles in hair health. For example, iron is crucial for hair growth and preventing hair loss, while B vitamins, particularly biotin (B7), are essential for healthy hair, skin, and nails. Zinc supports hair growth and repair, and magnesium helps with protein synthesis, including keratin production for hair.

To counteract potential deficiencies, you should incorporate a variety of gluten-free grains, such as quinoa and brown rice, and focus on a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. This ensures an adequate intake of all essential nutrients, supporting not only gut health and nutrient absorption but also promoting strong and healthy hair.

Overall verdict: gluten-free diet is beneficial for hair growth if you are suffering from gluten-free sensitivity.

10. High-Protein Diet

A high-protein diet focuses on consuming a greater proportion of calories from protein sources, including meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and nuts. This dietary approach is popular among athletes, bodybuilders, and those looking to lose weight or build muscle mass, as protein is essential for muscle repair and growth. Beyond its benefits for muscle and metabolism, a high-protein diet also has implications for hair health.

Protein is the building block of hair, as hair fibers are primarily made of keratin, a type of protein. A diet rich in high-quality protein can support the hair growth cycle, contributing to stronger, healthier hair. Adequate protein intake ensures the body has the necessary amino acids to produce keratin, potentially reducing hair breakage and loss.

However, while a high-protein diet can be beneficial for hair growth, it’s crucial to maintain a balanced intake of other nutrients. Excessive protein consumption, especially if it displaces other essential nutrients or if protein sources are not varied, could lead to nutritional imbalances. Important nutrients for hair health include:

  • Vitamins A, C, D, and E, which support scalp health and hair growth.
  • Minerals like zinc and iron, which aid in hair follicle function and oxygen delivery to the scalp.
  • Essential fatty acids, which are crucial for maintaining hair moisture and integrity.

For those considering a high-protein diet for hair health, it’s important to choose a variety of protein sources to also ensure adequate intake of these vitamins and minerals. Incorporating plant-based proteins such as legumes and nuts can provide additional nutrients beneficial for hair health. Balancing protein with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables ensures a comprehensive nutrient intake to support not just hair growth, but overall health.

Overall verdict: high protein diet can be beneficial for hair growth provided you consume enough fibre and healthy fats.


High dietary fiber intake is associated with decreased inflammation and all-cause mortality in patients with chronic kidney disease.. Kidney international, 81 3, 300-6 .

The Mediterranean Diet, its Components, and Cardiovascular Disease (2)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Inflammatory Processes (3)

Nutrient Intake and Status in Adults Consuming Plant-Based Diets Compared to Meat-Eaters: A Systematic Review (4)

Ketogenic state improves testosterone serum levels—results from a systematic review and meta-analysis (5)

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