Switching to a purely vegan diet is nothing short of an accomplishment. It takes hard work, a lot of willpower, and extensive knowledge and research. A vegan diet eliminates all animal products, including dairy and eggs, and relies on plant-based foods for nourishment. While it’s possible to get all your needed nutrients by eating a plant-only diet, it takes a lot of careful planning and management. Sometimes, a lack of proper nutrition and knowledge on nutrition can lead to excessive vegan hair loss. On average, a person loses 100 to 200 hairs a day. If you notice more strands falling out and brittle ends, consult a health care professional to screen for underlying health problems. If your doctor gives you a clean bill of health, it’s time to deeply examine your diet to make sure you’re getting enough calories, minerals, vitamins, and protein to keep your hair as healthy as possible.
The Causes of Vegan Hair Loss
Hair loss among women is not unusual. In one study, 34% of women from Japan, the USA, and the UK reported increased hair loss compared to 5 years earlier. The reasons for hair loss vary from person to person. So, it is important to see a doctor who can diagnose the specific problem.
In some cases, hair loss can be directly diet-related. Hair loss can sometimes occur with rapid weight loss which can result from switching to a vegan diet. In one study, hair grew back within months after weight loss. In other cases, there are less obvious nutritional reasons for hair loss.
A vegan diet must include a wide-range of high-protein foods in order to obtain enough for hair cell renewal and nourishment. Proteins provide the energy needed for healthy tissue growth not only for your hair, but for vital tissues like your heart, lungs, and liver. Your body will always put your vital organs ahead of others, which means if your diet lacks protein, your hair will suffer first.
Proteins are basically the foundation for your hair. It also contains amino acids, some of which are essential, meaning that they must be ingested every single day because the body cannot create them on its own.
There are a few plant-based sources of protein that are easiest to incorporate into a day-to-day routine. Quinoa, seitan, tofu, soy products (soy nuggets, edamame, etc.), beans, nuts, lentils, and chickpeas (chickpea burgers are delicious, and hummus!).
Leafy green vegetables, lentils, and fortified foods may seem to hold all the iron you would need. However, the iron in plant-based foods is not as easily absorbed by the body than iron from animal sources. Iron deficiencies are very common with those following a vegan or vegetarian diet. It can result in hair loss as well as weakness and extreme fatigue. The daily recommended amount of iron is 8 milligrams for men and 18 for women. If you’re vegan, you need 1.8 times that amount.
The following foods are the best plant-based sources of iron. Keep in mind, since iron from plants is not as easily absorbed by the body, you may want to consider taking an iron supplement if your levels are low. The best sources of plant-based iron are beets, spinach, okra, kale, broccoli, watercress, dried apricots, prunes, figs, soybeans, almonds, and fortified cereals.
Vitamin B12 is another essential nutrient for hair growth and is not found in vegetables or plant-based sources. If you’re a vegan, there are plenty of nutritious and delicious soy milk brands and cereals that are fortified with B12. Still, you might want to take a supplement for this as it can be hard to get enough of this essential vitamin from these sources alone.
Growing Healthy Hair on A Vegan Diet
Now that you know which vitamins and minerals you need daily, you can move on to the growing process. Fresh fruit and vegetables have huge amounts of nutrients needed to strengthen and grow long, healthy hair. Here are some of the best ones to eat daily.
- Avocados: Avocados are filled with healthy fats that promote the moisture needed to prevent hair breakage and helps hair grow strong.
- Almonds: Almonds—the “superior nut”—are an amazing source of protein and vitamin E which helps improve elasticity and moisture so your hair will resist breakage and dryness.
- Kale: Kale is rich in iron and vitamin B. It is also an alkaline food that helps prevent acidity in the body.
- Chia seeds: Chia seeds are rich in calcium, iron, and vitamin B, all of which help promote strength and healthy hair growth.
- Flax seeds: Flax seeds are a rich source of vitamin E. They provide nourishment to the hair roots, shaft, and the scalp. Flax seeds also contain high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids which help nourish hair follicles.
- Coconut: You can’t go wrong with coconut. From oils to conditioners, coconut is a great source of healthy fats for shiny, healthy hair.
- Beans, legumes, and lentils: Lean protein from beans and lentils will aid healthy hair growth while supplying a good amount of iron, zinc, and biotin.
Don’t forget that there are many vegan and natural products to use in your hair. We don’t always check the ingredients in our shampoos, oils, and conditioners, but you definitely should. Not all products are created equal and many contain harmful chemicals and substances. From shampoos to finishing sprays, check out this article for cruelty-free, vegan hair products.
Fact: Diet can change your hair. When you change your diet, you’re guaranteed to deal with hair replacement. When going vegan, you must actively choose to include a variety of raw foods and plant-based foods into your diet in order to get enough of the nutrients your hair and body needs. When you first go raw vegan (eating only unprocessed vegan food) or vegan, you’re bound to lose a bit of hair. Your body is detoxifying, and your hair is a big part of that process. But don’t give up. Your hair will get healthier as your body does. As long as the correct nutrients are being included in your day-to-day diet, you’ll be rewarded with the healthiest hair of your life.