Vegan Diet And Hair Loss – Is There Any Link?

by Ramona Sinha

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.

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

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

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

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

Hair thinning and loss is a common symptom of thyroid problems (3). Get your thyroid levels checked and talk to a doctor for a treatment plan.

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

1. Protein

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

2. Iron

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

3. Zinc

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. 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).

In A Nutshell

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.

11 sources

Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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Ramona Sinha

Ramona is a journalist-turned-content writer. She holds a Master’s degree in English Literature and has been writing for the digital world for over five years. She specializes in writing for Skin Care. She has done a certificate course titled ‘Dermatology: Trip To The Skin’, offered by Novosibirsk State University. She believes that beauty begins with a good skin care regimen and is on a mission to eliminate all toxins from her routine. She helps and guides readers in selecting products and ingredients specific to their skin type/issue. When Ramona is not working, her books and passion for music, good food, and traveling keep her busy.
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