Vegans and Vegetarians often choose these diets due to moral beliefs, and sometimes just to eat a cleaner, plant-based diet. However, rumors are float around online about these diet choices, and how they affect one's body. One of the most frequently asked questions is how a vegetarian or vegan diet affects hair loss.
Many ex-vegans post online about how they had to stop being vegan because their hair started to fall out. But is this the truth? Can abstaining from animal products cause your hair to fall out?
In a Nutshell
Some vegetarians and vegans indeed experience hair loss, but it is not due to the lack of meat. There is no scientific evidence that proves that a vegetarian or vegan diet leads to more hair loss than any other diet. A vegetarian or vegan diet does not cause more hair loss than a non-vegetarian or non-vegan diet.
So What is Causing Hair Loss?
If you're a vegan or vegetarian, and you're losing hair, there are a number of things you should look towards, namely your nutrients.
The vegan diet, when done with care, has just as many nutrients as an omnivorous diet. And just like an omnivorous diet, it’s when you eat unhealthy junk foods that you're at risk for health complications. So if your hair is falling out, you should look towards your diet. If you're a healthy vegan or vegetarian, then your diet should be just as good as a non-vegan or non-vegetarian diet.
Take a look at a few of these things that may cause vegans or vegetarians to have hair loss:
1. Omega-3 Deficiency
Omega 3s are a type of essential fatty acids. These nutrients help keep your body healthy and functioning properly. It also helps lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Omega 3s are typically found in fatty fish, which many vegetarians and vegans may abstain from.
If you're a vegetarian or vegan, and you're not getting enough Omega 3s in your diet, you may experience hair loss. But don't worry, it's easy to fix! You can find Omega 3s in flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, and many other plant-based foods.
Omega threes are vital to hair longevity because these fatty acids are known to help strengthen your hair and follicles. Hair loss can occur when your body doesn't have enough Omega 3s. Your hair may become weak, dry, and brittle. It can also become thin, or fall out at the root.
2. Iron Deficiency
Iron is another essential mineral that helps your body function properly. It also helps your red blood cells transport oxygen throughout your body. If you don't have enough iron in your body, you are at risk for anemia, which can cause hair loss. Anemia is when your blood does not have enough red blood cells or hemoglobin.
If you're a vegetarian or vegan, you may be at risk for iron deficiency because many plant-based foods are iron deficient. Iron is mostly found in meat, but it can also be found in beans, spinach, broccoli, and other plant-based foods.
If you're not getting enough iron in your diet, your hair can become thin, brittle, and lifeless. It can also fall out at the root. Iron is vital to the health of your hair follicles and scalp, so if you're a vegetarian or vegan, you should make sure to get enough iron in your diet.
3. Zinc Deficiency
Zinc is another crucial mineral that helps your body function properly. It also helps your cells heal and grow. It also helps your skin, hair, and nails stay healthy. A zinc deficiency can lead to hair loss, but it can also lead to acne, dandruff, and other skin conditions.
Plants are typically zinc-deficient foods. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, you may be at risk for zinc deficiency because you're not eating meat. Zinc is typically found in red meats, poultry, and fish. Plant-based foods with zinc are mostly seeds, nuts, and legumes.
If you're a vegetarian or vegan and not getting enough zinc in your diet, you may experience hair loss. Zinc is very important to the strength and health of your hair follicles and scalp.
4. Protein Deficiency
Protein is an essential macronutrient that helps your body function properly. It helps build muscle, skin, and hair. Protein is typically found in meat and eggs, but it can be found in many plant-based foods, too! If you're a vegetarian or vegan and not getting enough protein in your diet, you may experience hair loss.
One of the most common symptoms of protein deficiency is hair loss. Protein is essential to the integrity and health of your hair follicles and scalp, so if you're a vegetarian or vegan, you should make sure to include enough protein in your diet.
- Vegan foods that are high in protein:
- Soy (Edamame, tofu, tempeh, soy milk)
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
Hair Loss Knowledge Base
Hair loss that isn't genetic is rarely permanent. Typically, if your hair loss is caused by a vitamin or nutrient deficiency, your hair will grow back when the problem is resolved.
If you're worried about hair loss, visit a dermatologist. Even if they don't find a medical reason for your hair loss, they can recommend products and treatments that can help you maintain a full head of hair. For example, a dermatologist can prescribe you a scalp treatment that can help strengthen your hair and prevent breakage. They can also recommend products that can help make your hair look healthy and shiny.
Here are a few ways to help your hair's health:
1. Eat a lot of iron – iron helps with cell and blood production and is needed to make hair and nails grow.
2. Eat your veggies and fruits – they contain lots of vital nutrients and antioxidants.
3. Eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals – these foods help your body produce and maintain hair.
4. Eat foods that can help prevent hair loss – such as nuts and seeds.
5. Drink lots of water – this helps keep your hair and scalp healthy and hydrated.
6. Use castor oil – castor oil helps with the production of new hair cells.
7. Avoid heat damage – heat can damage your hair and cause it to fall out.
8. Avoid stress – stress can cause hair loss.
9. Massage your scalp – this helps get the blood flowing to your scalp and may aid in hair growth.
10. Use a good shampoo and conditioner – this will aid in the growth of your hair.
Is it a Vitamin Deficiency, or is it Male Pattern Baldness?
Many men confuse their hair loss with a vitamin deficiency when in reality, it's genetic. Androgenetic alopecia or balding is genetic, whereas vitamin or nutrient deficiencies are not.
Male pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss in men, and it's caused by genetics. When some men reach the age of 30, they begin to lose their hair. If they have a family history of baldness, they are more likely to start losing their hair at a younger age.
Male pattern baldness is most often caused by testosterone, but DHT can also cause it. DHT is a byproduct of testosterone that shrinks hair follicles. When the hair follicles shrink, the hair stops growing. DHT is what causes hair loss in men, but it can also cause hair loss in women.
The only way you can really know if you have androgenetic alopecia is by visiting your dermatologist. If you notice that your hair is thinning, you can ask your dermatologist to check your testosterone levels. If your levels are normal, they'll most likely recommend a hair loss solution.
If it's Male Pattern Baldness, There's Still Hope
Male pattern baldness (MPB) is a form of androgenetic alopecia (AGA) that affects most men at some point in their lifetime. The condition is caused by a genetically inherited sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a byproduct of testosterone that shrinks the hair follicles.
Hair Loss Drugs
Finasteride is a pharmaceutical drug that the FDA approved to treat hair loss in men. It works by blocking a specific enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT. This drug has been shown to stop hair loss, and after taken for a long period of time, even regrow hair.
Finasteride is generally safe, but some side effects can occur, such as headache, dizziness, and nausea.
Minoxidil is used to stimulate hair growth in men and women. It is applied to the scalp in the form of a liquid, foam, or through a special lotion. The drug acts by promoting blood circulation to the hair follicles, which in turn causes the follicles to produce hair.
Although it was originally developed as a blood pressure medication, it has been found to be effective in treating hair loss. Results for this drug do not occur overnight, and it may take several months to start seeing results. Some side effects include scalp irritation, itchiness, and dryness.
When Finasteride and Minoxidil are taken together, the effects of this drug combination are more enhanced than when they are used separately. This means that the results are better than when each drug is used individually by combining the two.
You Can Regain Your Lost Hair
Phoenix Health is an online telehealth platform that specializes in men’s health. You can speak with a doctor, over text, with no camera required. Our doctors prescribe Finasteride and understand what hair loss is like. Get control and regain your lost hair today.
This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.