Can A Vegan Diet Cause Hair Loss? Here's Everything You Need To Know

Medically reviewedby Dr. Amy Revene M.B.B.S.
WrittenbyLuat Duong
Last updated

Are you worried that your vegan diet might be the culprit behind your hair loss? You're not alone in this concern. 

Many people who adopt a vegan lifestyle wonder about the impacts it could have on their hair health. 

This article dives into the question of "vegan hair loss," exploring whether there's a real connection between your diet and the health of your hair. 

What is a vegan diet? 

vegan hair loss

A vegan diet is a plant-based eating plan that excludes all animal products, including meat, dairy, and eggs. People choose a vegan lifestyle for various reasons, such as ethical beliefs, health considerations, or environmental concerns.

When you switch to a vegan diet, your meals primarily consist of vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. This shift means relying on protein, vitamins, and other nutrients from plant-based sources. 

A well-planned vegan diet can support all stages of life, but it requires careful attention to ensure it includes a variety of foods to meet nutritional needs. 

It may seem initially overwhelming for those new to veganism, but many find exploring new foods and flavors rewarding and fun.

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Can a vegan diet cause hair loss?

Yes, a vegan diet can lead to hair loss if it's not balanced correctly. Since hair growth depends on various nutrients like protein, iron, zinc, and vitamins D and B12, missing out on these can affect your hair's health.

Vegan diets can be incredibly healthful and nutritious, but like any eating plan, they require careful planning to ensure you get all the essential nutrients. Many vegans might need to realize the lack of vitamins and minerals that are hair growth, commonly found in animal products. 

For instance, vitamin B12, primarily available from animal sources, is crucial for hair health. Similarly, protein, essential for hair strength, can be lower in some vegan diets if not correctly managed. 

Ensuring a variety of protein sources, such as lentils, beans, tofu, and quinoa, along with supplements where necessary, can help mitigate this risk.

What causes vegan hair loss? 

vegan hair loss

Vegan hair loss can often be linked to nutritional gaps in the diet. Here are some common causes:

  • Low protein intake: Hair is primarily made of protein, so insufficient protein can weaken hair structure and growth.
  • Iron deficiency: A lack of iron, which is more common in vegan diets, can lead to hair loss because iron helps with red blood cell production and oxygen delivery to hair follicles.
  • Vitamin B12 shortage: B12 is primarily found in animal products, so vegans might need more, essential for healthy hair.
  • Zinc deficiency: Zinc plays a crucial role in hair tissue growth and repair. Without enough zinc, hair can become weak.
  • Inadequate calorie consumption: Sometimes, new vegans may not consume enough calories to meet energy needs, which can also affect hair health.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for scalp health, and vegan diets may lack sufficient omega-3s, primarily found in fish.

Is vegan hair loss permanent? 

No, vegan hair loss is not usually permanent. With the proper adjustments to your diet, it's typically reversible.

Addressing hair loss caused by a vegan diet involves ensuring you have the necessary nutrients your body might be missing. 

This often means focusing on incorporating a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods and possibly using supplements, under guidance from a healthcare provider, to fill any gaps. 

For example, increasing your intake of plant-based proteins, iron-rich foods like lentils and spinach, and considering vitamin B12 and zinc supplements can help restore your hair’s health. 

Hair's nutritional levels are optimized, and you should see an improvement in hair growth and quality.

How can hair loss be prevented while on a vegan diet?

Here’s how you can keep your locks luscious while enjoying a plant-based lifestyle:

  • Diversify your protein sources: Include a variety of plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, tofu, and quinoa to ensure adequate protein intake.
  • Incorporate iron-rich foods: Eat plenty of leafy greens, legumes, seeds, and fortified cereals to boost your iron levels.
  • Take B12 supplements: Since B12 is crucial for hair health and is not found in plants, consider a supplement.
  • Ensure enough omega-3 fatty acids: Flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts are great vegan sources of omega-3s, which are essential for scalp health.
  • Monitor zinc intake: Include foods like nuts, seeds, and whole grains, which are good sources of zinc.
  • Eat a balanced diet: Make sure you get a wide range of vitamins and minerals by eating a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Consider a multivitamin: A daily multivitamin that includes vitamin D and selenium can help cover nutritional shortfalls.
  • Stay hydrated: Keeping up with your water intake is essential for maintaining healthy hair follicles.

How to treat vegan hair loss?

Here are some effective strategies to treat vegan hair loss:

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2. Increase plant-based protein sources

To prevent hair loss on a vegan diet, it's crucial to include a variety of plant-based proteins. Foods like lentils, chickpeas, tofu, and quinoa are excellent sources that can help strengthen your hair.

3. Add iron-rich foods to your diet

Iron is essential for hair health as it helps deliver oxygen to hair follicles. Include more spinach, kale, beans, and lentils, all high in iron and beneficial for maintaining healthy hair.

4. Ensure adequate intake of vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to hair loss, so supplementing your diet with B12 is essential, as it's primarily found in animal products. You can also look for fortified foods like cereals and plant milks.

5. Focus on omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3s are vital for a healthy scalp and, thus, healthy hair. Flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts are great vegan sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

6. Regularly monitor your nutrient levels

Keep track of your nutrient intake through regular blood tests to ensure you have enough vitamins and minerals to support hair health. Adjust your diet accordingly based on the results.

7. Stay hydrated for healthy hair growth

Water is essential for transporting nutrients to the hair follicles. Staying hydrated helps your hair stay healthy and may prevent hair loss. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Can you regain hair loss from a vegan diet? 

vegan hair loss

Yes, it is possible to regain hair loss from a vegan diet by addressing nutritional deficiencies and ensuring a well-balanced intake of essential nutrients.

Hair loss associated with a vegan diet typically results from insufficient nutrients crucial for hair growth, such as protein, iron, zinc, and vitamins B12 and D.

Conclusion

While a vegan diet offers numerous health benefits, it requires careful planning to prevent potential hair loss due to nutritional deficiencies.

You can maintain and even improve your hair health by focusing on a diverse intake of essential nutrients such as proteins, iron, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Remember, the key to preventing and reversing hair loss on a vegan diet is ensuring your body gets all the nutrients it needs.

With thoughtful dietary choices and some supplements, your hair can thrive on a vegan diet, reflecting overall health and vitality.

FAQs

What are the first signs of hair loss due to a vegan diet?

Early signs can include excessive hair shedding, thinner hair strands, and noticeable patches of reduced density in your hair.

Can improving my diet immediately stop my hair from falling out?

While dietary changes can help, it usually takes a few months to see a reduction in hair loss as your body adjusts to the improved nutrient intake.

Are there specific supplements recommended for vegans to prevent hair loss?

Yes, vegans should consider supplements such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, and zinc, which are crucial for hair health and might need to be adequately obtained from a plant-based diet alone.

How long does it take to see improvements in hair growth after adjusting the diet?

It can take three to six months to notice improvements in hair growth after making dietary adjustments, as hair growth cycles are relatively slow.

References:

  1. https://veganhealth.org/hair-loss/
  2. https://ro.co/hair-loss/do-vegetarian-diets-cause-hair-loss/ 
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7109385/ 
  4. https://www.saintlukeskc.org/about/news/research-shows-vegan-diet-leads-nutritional-deficiencies-health-problems-plant-forward
  5. https://www.theindependentpharmacy.co.uk/hair-loss/guides/can-a-vegetarian-diet-cause-hair-loss
  6. https://www.simplywigs.co.uk/blog/can-a-vegan-diet-cause-hair-loss/
Luat Duong

Luat Duong is a Copenhagen-based writer and content strategist specializing in hair loss and health. His work has been featured in MyHealthGuide, The Right Hairstyles, and Woman's Era. He is a graduate of Vaasa University. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.