5 Reasons Behind Vegan Hair Loss That Will Blow Your Mind
To become a vegan or a vegetarian is a life-changing decision, which has many benefits for your health, but also some unforeseen side effects. One of these unfortunate effects I’m talking about it hair loss.
But how could hair loss and vegan diet be related, you ask yourself? Well, your hair needs certain vitamins and minerals to grow strong and lustrous. Some of these nutrients come from meat and dairy products, and they are found in small amounts in plants and vegetable.
If you don’t pay special attention to the nutrient requirements of your body and you don’t take the necessary supplements, you might experience nutrient deficiency. And that leads to hair loss.
Is there a way to avoid hair loss on a vegan diet, then? Don’t panic. You’ve come to the right place to seek answers. Let’s see which the most common reasons behind vegan hair loss are and what you can do.
Bur first, if you notice any serious hair loss, pay a visit to your doctor. Going vegan might be one reason, but sometimes a serious health issue such as a thyroid disease might be the culprit.
1. Protein for healthy hair
You might not know it, but your hair is made from a dead protein called keratin. It’s only logical to assume that for a healthy hair growth you need protein in your diet. In fact, many home remedies for damaged hair use proteins such as eggs and yogurt to stimulate growth.
That’s not the only function of this essential nutrient. Your body also requires a lot of protein to work properly. And if your body is not in prime shape, that reflects on your hair.
Why? It’s really simple. Protein breaks down to crucial amino acids that your body uses for cell growth and repair.
So, what’s the problem, then? Meat and dairy products are the primary sources of protein, so if you are a vegan, you don’t eat these foods. As a result, you might not be getting all the protein you need. For reference, women require about 46 grams a day, men – 56 grams.
Vegetarians don’t have the same issues with protein because they rely on milk, eggs, and cheese to supply the necessary amount.
Now the question comes, what can vegans eat? Here’s a list of the high-protein foods suitable for vegans:
- Green peas
- Sunflower seeds
- Non-diary milk
An excellent choice is also seitan, a meat substitute for vegans. It has 25 grams of protein per 100 grams.
If you have an underactive thyroid gland, don’t rely too much on soy as a source of protein. Soy can interfere with the absorption of your hormone replacing drug, so consult with your doctor.
2. Lack of zinc leads to dull hair
Another nutrient that is essential for beautiful and voluminous hair is zinc, which your body needs to function as a well-greased machine. Let’s see what makes it special.
Zinc plays a vital role in balancing your hormonal levels, cell division, tissue growth, protein synthesis, and DNA production. All of these affect the strength of our hair follicles, among other things.
In fact, zinc is present in every cell, organ, and bones. What’s more, it’s essential for the proper development of unborn babies and newborns.
If your body doesn’t get enough zinc, the usual symptoms are:
- Attention/motor disorders, especially in children.
- Weak immune system
- Thin, dull hair
These symptoms may worsen with time if you don’t increase your zinc levels. The result could be baldness, pneumonia, anorexia, problems with the pregnancy.
But why is this an issue for vegans? Just like protein, we get zinc primary from meat such as beef, pork, chicken, oysters. The recommended dose for women is 8 mg a day and 11 mg a day for men.
So, when you decide to go vegan, it’s mandatory that you eat foods rich in zinc such as:
- Chickpea – 2.5 mg/ one cup
- Pumpkin seeds – 8.4 mg/half a cup
- Cashew -3.8 mg/ half a cup
- Fortified cereal
Unfortunately, plants don’t contain as much zinc as meat. As a result, it might be necessary to take zinc supplements if your levels are too low. But don’t do that on your own. Talk with your doctor to discuss your options.
3. Vitamin B12 is essential for hair growth
The only vitamin that we can get only from animal products is called vitamin B-12. And it’s not a vitamin that we can live without. It plays a significant role in:
- red blood cells formation
- brain and nervous system function
- absorption of iron
- a strong immune system
- memory and concentration
- reducing anxiety and depression
- stimulating hair growth
Our body doesn’t need too much B12, but what happens when we don’t get enough of this crucial vitamin? The symptoms often are subtle and hard to detect, but hair loss and premature graying are among them. Other symptoms to look for are:
- lack of energy
- memory issues
- mouth ulcers
The good news is that your body stores vitamin B-12, so if you have been following a vegan diet for a few months, you probably haven’t felt any of these side effects.
However, if you plan on staying vegan for the rest of your life, you have to take B-12 supplements to avoid hair loss, heart diseases, anemia, to name a few. Don’t let anyone fool you into believing that you don’t need them.
You can also try fortified B-12 food such as soy products and breakfast cereals. In such a case, you need to eat two-three portions a day to get at least three micrograms of B12.
4. Iron deficiency leads to hair loss
You might have heard that iron is essential for your health, but it’s also important for hair growth. Its primary role is to carry oxygen through your body. Without enough oxygen, the hair follicles won’t be growing properly, which leads to hair loss.
Unfortunately, the most abundant sources of iron are red meats, something that you can’t eat. But the good news is that you can get plenty of iron from:
- Green vegetables – spinach, kale, broccoli
- Fortified grains and cereals
The recommended daily dose of iron for optimal health is 8 mg for men and 18 mg for women. However, if you are vegan, you might end up needing more.
Why? Iron has two forms – heme and non-heme. The heme iron is easily absorbed by our bodies, while the non-heme not so much. The issue is that all iron found in plants is the non-heme form,
As a result, iron deficiency might develop, even if you include enough vegetables high in iron in your diet. What’s more, women are at greater risk, because they lose iron regularly when they menstruate.
The good news is that you can enhance the absorbing of non-heme iron. And it’s really simple. You just have to consume vitamin C with your iron-rich meals. So grab a glass of orange or vegetable juice, and you’ll be fine.
5. Telogen effluvium is linked to nutrient deficiency
Sometimes, when you go vegan for the first time, you might experience something called telogen effluvium.
What’s that you ask? Telogen is the resting part of the hair-growth cycle. When your hair follicles enter this phase, they stop growing, and they fall after three months. Around 10% -20% of all your hairs on your scalps are resting.
Usually, you don’t notice anything, because 80-90% of the follicles are in the growing phase. However, if this percent falls significantly, you will experience hair shedding because not enough new hair is growing.
Don’t worry. You won’t lose all of your scalp hair, but there will be a noticeable thinning.
But why would this happen to me, you ask? Some reasons for telogen effluvium are stress, trauma or drastic diet change. And when you give up meat and dairy products, this comes as a shock to your body.
Moreover, nutrient deficiency is also linked to telogen effluvium. This means that if you don’t pay attention to your iron, zinc, protein and B12 levels, you are at high risk for developing hair loss, among other conditions.
The good news is that telogen effluvium is not permanent and your hair will recover in time.
As you can see, when hair loss comes knocking at your door, the simple remedy is getting the right kind of nutrients. And that’s not difficult, even on a vegan diet. You just have to pay attention to your food and eat the right amount of protein and vitamins.
But if you have any concerns regarding your health, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.
If you want to share your story, you’re welcomed to post in the comment section. We would love to hear whether you experienced vegan hair loss and how you dealt with it. And don’t forget to share the articles with your friends.