According to a 2017 study, 6% of American consumers now identify themselves as vegan. As more vegan food and beauty products emerge, it is important to consider the effects on your hair, not just your body. More specifically, is there a link between a vegan diet and hair loss?
Written By Summer Wise
Vegan diets do not directly cause hair loss, but a lack of nutrients could contribute to hair thinning, excess shedding, and poor scalp health. These conditions may lead to hair loss and can be avoided by following a balanced diet.
What Is A Vegan Diet?
Veganism excludes meat, dairy, and any other animal products. Honey is also generally avoided for this reason.
Some follow a vegan diet for moral reasons. This is due to the exploitation of animals or insects for human consumption.
Vegans eat natural foods such as vegetables, grains, carbohydrates, and other plant-based food products that do not involve the use of sentient creatures.
Not all vegans follow the diet for moral reasons. Many people use it to support their health through eating natural whole foods rather than processed foods.
Others may eat ‘junk’ food regularly. They simply avoid products that contain animal products, such as milk, gelatin, or food coloring made from insects.
Why Follow A Vegan Diet?
So, why choose to become vegan? The 6% of American consumers who identify with the term vegan diet is a huge increase from 1% in 2014, three years earlier.
Many people follow veganism for their health, alongside moral convictions about the world’s reliance on farmed animals for food.
Others find that they experience weight loss as a result of avoiding high-calorie meat-based meals. They also see an overall improvement in health through lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and other positive changes.
However, not all people find that a vegan diet immediately helps their health. Instead they may find themselves experiencing symptoms such as fatigue, rapid weight loss, and vitamin deficiencies.
This is not to say all vegans will experience this but if your diet is not correctly balanced in nutrients, it can happen.
Can A Vegan Diet Cause Hair Loss?
There are no direct connections found so far between a vegan diet and hair loss. Some even report healthier, shinier hair after a long period of eating a plant-based diet.
However, issues can arise when your diet is not meeting all your requirements, and hair thinning or scalp issues can be one of the first signs of poor nutrition.
Using supplements will help to balance out a diet lacking in essential nutrients and ensure your hair does not become damaged.
Poor Nutrition and Hair Loss
It is possible to eat a diet lacking in essential nutrients when you are vegan, and so healthy individuals may still take supplements when needed.
The most important supplements vegans should consider are B-12, vitamin D, and Iron. A lack of B-12 can be linked to anemia, which is a lack of red blood cells inside your blood to carry nutrients around the body.
Lack of minerals and nutrients is not exclusive to veganism but making the right choices can help prevent hair loss due to malnutrition.
In the general population, vegan diets are regarded as healthy, but all your specific needs must be met for this to be the case.
Consult your doctor before drastically changing your diet or if you are experiencing significant hair loss.
Other potential causes for hair loss on a vegan diet, not including underlying conditions, can include:
Low iron can cause dizziness, fatigue, and other problems. Therefore, making sure to get the right amount is essential when cutting out iron-rich meats.
Supplementing with iron-rich foods such as spinach, nuts, or soy.
It is thought that a lack of iron is most often not a sole reason for hair loss but can contribute to other underlying causes.
Rapid Weight Loss
Losing weight at a rate faster than up to 2lbs a week can cause significant effects on your hair.
Many find that when they begin a vegan diet, they lose weight unintentionally. This is due to the reduced calories of most vegan whole foods as compared to cuts of meat or dairy.
Losing weight too quickly causes the hair follicles to slow the production of new hair, while your remaining hair sheds as usual.
Vegan protein can be found in food such as legumes, tofu, and nuts.
A lack of protein often contributes a lot to hair loss. This is due to the body making the hair follicles inactive to preserve more protein for other bodily functions.
When hair is not growing, and you are still losing hair daily, as usual, it can result in hair loss.
The majority of people get their protein from their meat consumption. Therefore, some may struggle with protein deficiencies when switching to a vegan diet that does not offer enough protein substitutes.
Other Causes Of Hair Loss
A vegan diet is rarely the primary cause of hair loss, and other reasons should always be considered alongside the diet.
A thyroid issue, such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, can lead to dry skin, hair thinning, and ultimately hair loss.
These conditions need to be treated with the help of your doctor. They can also make sure that a vegan diet will not be contributing to any hair loss or thinning as a result of the thyroid disorder.
Various other health conditions can cause hair loss. When experiencing serious hair loss you should always consult a healthcare professional.
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