Over the last 10-15 years, health fads have become even more widespread than ever before. Whether it’s paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, or any number of other options — it can feel like everyone is on a “special” diet. Although some of these trends may be having a positive impact on our health, many of these fads are so new they lack the research needed to actually know how they are affecting our bodies. Recently, there has been speculation from health and hair researchers and specialists alike, that some of these fads, including veganism, may be causing hair loss for many otherwise healthy adults.
Recent statistics seem to indicate that more and more people are dealing with hair loss and it’s starting to even affect people from a rather young age. Although there are many factors involved in hair loss (including things like hormone balancing and genetics), and although there is further research to be done, we do know that diet has a major impact on our hair and potentially, hair loss.
In particular, recent research and opinion of specialists in the fields of both health and hair have started to suggest that veganism (as well as potentially vegetarianism) have a majorly negative impact on hair growth. It’s possible that if you are vegan and dealing with hair loss, your diet could be the culprit causing your problem.
Most people agree that is a way to practice veganism and still get all of the nutrition your body needs. But the common problem is that in order to be vegan and have a diet or supplement regimen that meets all of your nutritional needs, it requires a lot of planning, meal prepping, and access and knowledge of high-quality supplementation for the things you may lack in your regular diet.
Anabel Kingsley is a trichologist (a scientist who studies the structure, function and diseases of the human hair) and daughter of the famous hair guru Philip Kingsley. She has recently spoken out about her opinion that veganism (and other fad diets) may be causing the rise in hair loss issues in women.
As Kingsley put it in an interview with Business Insider “Hair is not an essential tissue, meaning the body can physically survive without it, even if you are really careful it can be hard to get the protein and iron for hair to grow healthily.”
Protein and iron are two of the most essential nutrients for growing hair, and both are nutrients that tend to be lacking in the typical vegan diet. Kingsley explained in the interview, “Even if you’re only slightly deficient in a nutrient, the body withholds this from the hair first.” This is because our bodies don’t NEED hair to survive. And yet, having thick, beautiful hair has a high cultural premium on it. It’s something almost everyone wants. And what Kingsly and other researchers are suggesting is that we may be doing our own harm with our diet choices.
Recent statistics show that veganism is on the rise. And although vegans have many reasons for their diet and lifestyle choices, a recent poll showed that 69% of vegans choose their diet for health reasons. It was listed as the most important factor, above even animal rights or environmental concerns. Although we still have no clear answer as to whether veganism has more positive or negative effect overall, we are finding that it may be having a negative impact on hair.
With numbers of veganism rising, so are hair loss issues. In fact, statistics from the International Society of Hair Loss Restoration show that worldwide numbers of hair replacement surgery are up 67% in just the last couple of years. This is representative of how pressing of an issue this is worldwide. And we are seeing more and more links between our diets and hair loss issues.
Why Veganism Might Be Your Hair’s Enemy
You might be saying to yourself right now, “but every diet has pros and cons and being vegan is what works for me.” If that’s true, we aren’t here to tell you what lifestyle choices to make. But the fact is, many vegans simply aren’t getting the nutrition they really need. In particular, the nutrition they need for hair growth.
This is because vegan diets tend to be lower than the average diet in two essential things: protein and iron.
One study comparing the nutritional quality of various restrictive diets showed that vegans, although consuming many healthy things like more dietary fiber than the average person, did indeed eat significantly less protein.
Anemia is also more common in vegans and vegetarians since meat and animal products are one of the best sources of iron, as well as B12 (low levels of B12 can also lead to anemia, as well as issues with hair growth). There are two forms of iron, heme and non-heme. Heme iron is more easily used by your body and it’s also the type found in meat, poultry, and fish. Non-heme iron is still useable but it’s not as easy for your body, this is the kind found in vegetables. Since both easy to absorb iron and B12 are both found mostly in animal products, many vegans or vegetarians can become deficient in these nutrients.
It is of course possible for vegans to get plenty of iron and B12 through supplementation and through the right diet, but it requires a lot of awareness and planning that many people just don’t invest. In order to get the right nutrition to keep your hair looking healthy and combat hair loss with a vegan diet, you will probably need to take a few supplements. If you’re looking for a good place to start, try Feelz Good Hairessence All Natural Hair Growth Formula.
Growing healthy hair requires healthy levels of Iron. And you can have low iron levels without testing as anemic. Many studies have shown links between iron deficiency and hair loss and suggest that treating low iron levels may help alleviate some of the common hair loss issues we see today.
But the relationship between hair growth/loss and protein may be even more important for vegans to have an awareness of. Why? Because our hair is literally made of protein. Specifically, a protein called keratin. Keratin is made from a blend of amino acids and supported with various hormones and other factors. But in order to grow hair, our bodies need to have PLENTY of the proteins needed. Because as we discussed before, hair is not essential for our bodies. But it is extremely important in social functioning.
So when we aren’t getting enough of the building blocks of protein needed to grow hair (but also needed for almost every other major function of the body), our bodies send those nutrients other places first. Like to our vital organs or even our skin. Hair is sort of an afterthought in terms of the functioning of the body.
In order to make sure you’re getting enough of the right proteins and other nutrients to help grow your hair as a vegan or vegetarian, you’re most likely going to need supplement and possibly make some diet changes. Some foods that you think have protein may actually only be a particle protein, and the body needs a combination of the full set of essential amino acids (the ones our bodies can’t produce) in order to utilize it for many functions.
If you’re set on a vegan lifestyle but you’re concerned about hair loss, consider trying some of these food combinations that have all of the essential amino acids and combining those with an iron supplement, and a supplement created to support hair growth like Feelz Good Hairessence All Natural Hair Growth Formula.
What Else Can Vegans Do About Hair Loss?
Our purpose in writing this article is not to make you feel helpless about your hair loss problems or to convince you to change your lifestyle or eating preferences. We only want to educate you about the science behind the problem you are facing and provide actionable steps for making changes to keep your hair growing healthily.
If veganism or vegetarianism is your chosen way of life and you have no interest in making a change, that’s okay! Once you know the facts, you can continue to practice these eating plans while taking steps to improve hair health.
Here are a few things you can try:
1. Find a Plant-Based Protein Supplement
Although it can be hard to get enough protein into your diet at a vegan, the good news is there are tons of high-quality protein supplements that are easy to add to your diet. Hemp and brown rice protein are both quite easy to add to things like smoothies, soups, or mix into other normal dishes and are 100% plant-based.
2. Take the Right Supplements
As we discussed earlier in the article, getting all of the right nutrition as a vegan can be difficult and supplementation is a near must. Some of the most important things for vegans to take include B12, iron, and potentially a protein supplement.
If you’re worried specifically about hair loss, try taking a supplement designed for supporting hair growth like Feelz Good Hairessence All Natural Hair Growth Formula, which contains biotin as well as a blend of other ingredients that will help your body grow healthy hair.
3. Track Your Protein Intake
If you aren’t interested in supplementing with a protein supplement, consider simply tracking the amount of protein you are eating each day.
The general rule of thumb for getting enough protein is to eat 0.36 grams per pound of body weight per day. So a woman who weighs 140 pounds would need to eat around 50 grams a day. But if you’re vegan, be sure to do your research about the proteins you’re eating and make sure you are getting a balance of the full set of essential amino acids.
4. Get Some Testing Done
If you’re worried that your body may be lacking some of the nutrients you need to grow healthy hair but you don’t want to do the guesswork of shifting up your diet or taking supplements you aren’t familiar with, consider seeing a specialist who can help you figure out exactly what you need. You can go to a doctor (ideally find one who has knowledge of veganism) for blood testing to see if you have any deficiencies or even find a vegan nutritionist who can help make sure you’re eating a well-rounded diet.
With so many fad diets and new research about nutrition constantly emerging, it can get really confusing! The most important thing is that you find a style and make choices that work for you and your body. If you feel good, you’re on the right track. But remember that hair is a pretty good indicator of overall health so if you start having hair problems, it could be an indication that it’s time to make a change. It’s possible to be a healthy vegan with a well-rounded diet, but you will need to think carefully about your diet and supplement regimen to make sure you’re giving your body everything it needs.
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