Healthy Living/ Vegan Guides

Losing Hair On a Vegan Diet? Here’s Why

Have you recently switched to a vegan diet? When you switched, did you slowly start realizing your hair is falling out? 

It sucks, and it can make you really worried, especially if your hair is important to you. 

What about a vegan diet that can make you lose your hair? It is about time that we find out! 

So, let’s look at how you could alter your vegan diet so that you do not lose your hair anymore. 

Losing Hair On a Vegan Diet

Can Being On A Vegan Diet Cause Loss Of Hair?

While it does not happen for everyone, a vegan diet is able to cause hair loss for some people. Losing hair is actually one of the primary problems that people tend to face on a vegan diet, even if you are eating very well and healthily. 

That being said, if you have a balanced vegan diet, and are getting all of the essential nutrients you need, you should not be losing your hair. Therefore, if you do happen to be losing hair on a vegan diet, then you may not be getting all the nutrition your body needs. 

So, we will look over all the primary reasons that people could lose their hair on a vegan diet, and how you can combat it. 

Do not worry, these tricks and tips do work, I’ve given them a try myself, and plenty of my vegan friends have tried them too, and there have always been results. 

Worried about your hair loss? No worries, let’s help you figure that out.

Reasons That You May Be Losing Hair On A Vegan Diet 

Losing Hair On a Vegan Diet

There are several different reasons that you might be suffering hair loss on a vegan diet. 

Iron Deficiency

Vegans will usually have a lower ferritin store than meat eaters, so as a vegan you are actually more susceptible to iron deficiency. This happens because there is not as much bioavailable iron in plant-based food than in meat-based foods. 

Lower ferritin levels can sometimes be a good thing for some people, in some cases it can lower the risk of chronic diseases of heart disease as well as diabetes. 

If you are low in ferritin this could be a reason that you are losing hair on a vegan diet. 

This is because iron is needed to make hemoglobin which is the stuff inside your red blood cells that carries the oxygen around your body, if your red blood cells do not have or are low on hemoglobin then it is a bit like having a bicycle without any pedals or seat, sure it’ll go but it can’t really carry anyone and is pretty pointless.

You need to ensure that you are getting enough good iron sources in your diet, and you can also increase your intake of beta-carotene and vitamin C to help your body absorb iron better. 

You Are Not Supplementing Vitamin B12 Enough

Vitamin B12 is probably the most important nutrient we need, and it is not just us plant-eaters who are at risk of having a deficiency of this vitamin. 

B12 is an essential nutrient your body needs to build, regulate and maintain your red blood cells, brain neurons, DNA, energy levels, nerves, mood, and hormones! 

So, are you stressed? 

I stopped eating meat and my hair is falling out!

Well, if you did not have a constant oxygen supply, you’d simply die, and your hair is the same. You need to get enough blood flow to your hair follicles. But, you need B12 to make up the red blood cells to provide this oxygen. 

If you do not supplement vitamin B12 each day, your body might not be making enough red blood cells to carry all that oxygen to your hair. 

Should your hair already be falling out, you may be deficient in B12, so you will need a higher dosage to increase your levels.

You Need More Biotin

Around 50% of women who experience loss of hair are low in biotin. Your body is able to make biotin itself, but not all that is needed, so you need some from your diet. 

When you are breastfeeding or pregnant, you need even more. 

You will often find biotin in animal foods such as eggs and liver, but when you are vegan you cannot use these, so you need to ensure you can get enough from plant-based foods. 

Sweet potatoes are a great source, and if you can make a sweet potato soup you will get a high dosage. Other vegan foods which have high biotin levels include peanuts, onions, peanut butter, tomatoes, and cauliflower.

Your Zinc Levels Are Too Low

Vegans suffer from zinc deficiencies all too often as well, and this can also contribute to hair loss. 

Signs you are low in zinc include getting sick a lot (cold and flu susceptibility) and having dry skin and brittle nails. 

Phytic acid is an antinutrient that is found in plant-based foods that bind to zinc and can stop you from properly absorbing it. You might still be able to absorb more zinc in order to compensate for a lower absorption rate, but there are no studies that say this is a sure thing yet. 

So, you need to ensure you eat enough zinc, you should try to eat about 50% more zinc than your body actually needs. And, if you are losing your hair from your diet, taking a zinc supplement can actually help. 

In order to eat enough zinc you should include more seeds and whole grains in your diet, however, these are high in phytic acid as well, so you should prepare these carefully to increase your body’s absorption rate. 

Your Body Is Not Making Enough Cysteine

This is a protein that is absolutely essential for maximizing hair growth. The protein in our hair is known as keratin, and in order to make this protein you need cysteine. An incredible 14% of keratin is cysteine, and so if you do not have enough cysteine then your hair will become weak and brittle. 

Building up keratin without cysteine is a bit like trying to build a table with lettuce leaves, it won’t stand up. It just falls apart. 

Cysteine is provided via protein, so you need to get enough protein. Eat oats, lentils, and tofu to max out your cysteine levels. 

You could also supplement this, if you supplement on cysteine, your hair may also grow faster too! 

You Need To Make More Lysine

Lysine is a type of protein, or more specifically it is an essential amino acid. This means your body cannot make it itself, and you need to get all you need from your food. Now, your hair doesn’t actually contain any lysine… So, why is this needed? 

Well, you know you need iron to keep your hair happy and healthy? Well, without having any lysine, your iron stores can’t get built up, and then you don’t have enough iron, without enough iron you can’t make enough red blood cells, and your hair follicles become starved of oxygen. 

So, where can you get this essential amino acid? 

Pulses and beans are perfect sources, so you should be looking to eat plenty of beans each day. 

Getting enough protein is more key than you may think as a vegan.

Should you supplement lysine? Well, you should double-check your blood levels first. Check to see if your ferritin levels are low and if so try to supplement lysine to build them back up. 

If you are a woman with an iron deficiency then taking iron and lysine can help you build up a much better ferritin store. 

You Have Overdosed on Selenium

brasil nuts

Photo Credit @viungopoint

We have spoken a lot about deficiencies, but what about overdosing? 

Well, you can overdose and it can affect your hair. Selenium is the culprit here. While selenium is important for thyroid function and your energy and immune system, you can overdose on it if you have too much. 

The main symptom of overdosing on selenium is loss of hair as well! 

Who is to blame here? Well, often the instigator is Brazil nuts, as nice as they may taste. 

Brazil nuts are actually so high in selenium that you need only eat around 1 to 2 per day to get what you need. So, if you regularly intake more than this, you could easily be overdosing. 

Since your body is not able to rid itself of selenium excess easily, it will usually try to get rid of it via your digestive tract and hair, which often results in a runny bum and balding patches. 

Having nuts in your diet as a vegan is great and incredibly useful, they are hot to trot in healthy fats and protein, and aid in weight loss, but Brazil nuts can tip you overboard a bit too easily. 

If you take multivitamins, stay away from those delicious nuts, because you are likely already getting all the selenium you need from these too! 

Vegan Hair Loss Products

Most of the best products to fight hair loss for vegans are diet changes. While you can get hair vitamins to help, the best remedy is prevention, which means a bit of a dietary re-jig. 

Introduce more beans and lentils, maybe some hemp seeds, and some spinach. Introduce more nuts, but not brazil nuts, and indulge in some berries. 

However, if you want some products to help your hair while you are working on increasing your protein and iron-supportive dietary intake, I have a few ideas! 

My favorite product is this Shapiro leave-in foam

It is made for vegans and helps to support thinning hair as well as hair that is falling out. You do pay a fair price for it, but you can get the whole bundle for under $60, and it should support your hair as you make the dietary changes you need. 

Also, since it is a foam, you can treat your hair easily, and it is non-messy, which is perfect! 

Overall

You may be losing your hair on a vegan diet because you are not getting enough iron into your body. You may have low iron levels, or your diet is lacking something that helps ensure your hair follicles get what they need. 

It is not uncommon for this to happen, and it is easily fixed with a look at your nutritional intake and a quick re-jig.

FAQs

How Do You Avoid Hair Loss On A Vegan Diet?

Avoiding hair loss on a vegan diet is as simple as looking at the nutritional value of what you eat. Ensure you get enough iron, amino acids, lysine, cysteine, and zinc. 

How Do Vegans Keep Their Hair Healthy?

Eating enough iron is important for healthy hair. On a vegan diet, vegans can keep their hair healthy with Quinoa, soy, tofu, chickpeas, tempeh, chia seeds, and more. 

Getting the essential nutrients is key! 

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