Can a vegan diet cause hair loss? The answer is – yes, it can. There is no problem with embracing a vegan lifestyle as it may not directly affect everyone’s hair growth rate. However, lack of proper nutrients resulting from a poorly managed vegan lifestyle causes hair loss.
This article explores all the aspects of how veganism may affect your hair health and what you can do to prevent hair loss. Let’s dig deeper and find out Can a vegan diet cause hair loss.
In This Article
What Causes Hair Loss In Vegans?
Several factors may cause hair loss in vegans:
1. Dietary Restrictions
Vegans do not consume animal-derived food, such as meat, eggs, seafood, and dairy. Thus, they miss out on the nutrients that these foods have to offer, resulting in hair shedding. Dietary restrictions may cause a lack of essential nutrients that play a vital role in hair growth and maintenance, like (1):
Protein deficiency and decreased protein intake are linked to telogen effluvium, causing temporary hair loss and hair thinning. Typically, you gain a large amount of protein from dairy and meat products. Your body is deprived of this due to veganism. Hence, to conserve energy, your system halts all ‘unnecessary’ activities, including hair growth (2).
Iron increases your red blood cell count and distributes oxygen throughout the body, including your scalp. Individuals who are deficient in iron tend to experience hair loss. Women, especially, are prone to hair loss from lack of iron and low serum ferritin (iron-binding protein) levels (2).
Zinc is a trace element, and the human body cannot generate it on its own. Zinc helps in cell growth and development and DNA synthesis. Insufficient zinc levels in your diet can cause alopecia (a telltale sign of zinc deficiency) and telogen effluvium (2). The main dietary sources of zinc include meat and fish, which vegans do not consume.
- Folic Acid (Vitamin B12)
Research found that people with telogen effluvium and androgenetic alopecia had low levels of folic acid in their bodies (2). Folic acid maintains hair and scalp health by developing red blood cells that provide oxygen to the hair follicles. It is mainly found in eggs, meat, and dairy products, which vegans do not eat.
2. Rapid Weight Loss
A lot of fat comes from animal products. Switching to veganism may cut out all the fat from the diet. This may cause rapid weight loss, triggering telogen effluvium (1). Rapid weight loss also puts a lot of stress on the body, disrupting normal body functioning and hair growth.
3. Thyroid Issues
Given the restrictive nature of veganism, you will likely notice an increase in hair loss. But you need not give up your plant-based diet to save your locks! Try the following vegan-friendly foods for strong, healthy hair.
Best Vegan Foods To Consume For Healthy Hair
Make sure to include the following foods in your diet to increase your protein intake.
- Legumes: Lentils, black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, soybean, and tofu
- Nuts: Almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and pecans
- Seeds: Chia, flax, sunflower, and pumpkin
- Grains: Quinoa, oats, and rice
- Fruits: Coconuts, guavas, and avocados
- Vegetables: Green peas and mushrooms
The body does not easily absorb the iron from fruits and vegetables as it does from meat and dairy products. Hence, increase your intake of the following iron-rich vegan foods for healthy hair:
- Legumes: Beans, soybeans, and lima beans
- Nuts: Almonds, cashews, and foxnuts
- Seeds: Pumpkin, sunflower, pistachio, and pulses
- Grains: Fortified cereals, quinoa, rice, and oats
- Fruits: Dried apricots, prunes, and figs
- Vegetables: Beets, spinach, kale, and watercress
To fill the gaps in your nutritional needs, incorporate the following zinc-rich foods into your diet.
- Legumes: Beans, lentils, soy, and tofu
- Nuts: Cashews and almonds
- Seeds: Sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin
- Grains: Bran, wheat, quinoa, and fortified cereals
- Fruits: Avocados, kiwis, and blueberries
- Vegetables: Spinach, asparagus, and mushrooms
4. Vitamin B12
Here are a few vegan-friendly foods that you can try to increase your B12 levels:
- Legumes: Tempeh
- Fortified Foods: Cereals, almond milk, and nutritional yeast
However, vegan food sources may not be enough to reduce the risk of deficiency. You may take vitamin supplements to avoid nutritional deficiency.
Here are some top tips to prevent hair loss and thinning from a vegan diet.
Tips To Combat Hair Loss From A Vegan Diet
1. Eat Nutritious Food
One of the best ways to avoid hair loss when on a vegan diet is by eating foods with high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. You may talk to a dietitian or nutritionist and follow a balanced diet chart.
2. Start Taking Supplements
Most of the time, you may not be able to meet the daily dietary intake goal of certain nutrients when on a plant-based diet. To cover that deficiency, you may take supplements. Consult a doctor regarding this.
3. Monitor Your Caloric Intake
Make sure you meet your daily calorie requirement. This helps maintain healthy body functions and manage your weight. Meeting the calorie requirements also prevent rapid weight loss.
Going vegan can also influence many other health-related factors that may directly or indirectly affect your hair health. Let’s take a look.
What Factors Can A Vegan Diet Influence to Minimize Hair Loss?
1. It May Lower Blood Pressure
Following a healthy and balanced vegan diet may help control your blood pressure (4). Hypertension may also cause androgenetic alopecia. The research found a link between using spironolactone, a drug used to treat hypertension, and alopecia (5).
2. Reduces Inflammation
A vegan diet contains anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation (6). Chronic inflammation increases androgen activity in the body and increases DHT levels (7). This may trigger hair loss.
3. Reduces Cholesterol Levels
A plant-based diet helps reduce cholesterol levels in the body (8). High cholesterol levels affect the hair follicles and may cause hair disorders like alopecia and hirsutism. However, more research is needed to identify how hair follicles synthesize cholesterol and how high cholesterol levels affect follicle proliferation (9).
4. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
A vegan diet helps regulate blood sugar levels and is an excellent way to manage type 2 diabetes and improve insulin resistance (10). Poor insulin resistance is linked to androgenetic alopecia (female pattern baldness) (11).
A vegan diet may not necessarily cause hair loss. However, nutritional deficiency due to a poor vegan lifestyle and lack of proper nutrition can lead to hair loss. While a vegan diet has immense health benefits, other underlying factors and health issues may trigger hair loss, irrespective of your lifestyle and diet choices. Address the underlying conditions (if any), follow a healthy vegan lifestyle, and maintain your daily nutrient intake to stay healthy and maintain your hair health.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does excluding dairy from the diet cause hair Loss?
There is no research to prove the connection between dairy and hair loss. However, by excluding dairy from your diet, you may miss out on vital nutrients.
Can a vegan diet cause health problems?
Yes, if you do not maintain the daily nutrient intake and follow an improper vegan diet chart, it may cause nutritional deficiency and health issues.
Can a raw vegan diet help with hair loss?
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that a raw vegan diet can boost hair growth.
- Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use
- The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review.
- Clinicoepidemiological Observational Study of Acquired Alopecias in Females Correlating with Anemia and Thyroid Function
- A plant-based diet and hypertension
- Association of androgenetic alopecia and hypertension
- Association of vegetarian diet with inflammatory biomarkers: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies
- A hypothetical pathogenesis model for androgenic alopecia: clarifying the dihydrotestosterone paradox and rate-limiting recovery factors
- Association between plant-based diets and plasma lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
- Cholesterol homeostasis: Links to hair follicle biology and hair disorders
- A plant-based diet for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes
- Hair loss, insulin resistance, and heredity in middle-aged women. A population-based study