At LH Hair we're in the business of providing you with the hair you want, but we also love providing as much information on hair loss prevention as we can. Educating our clients is a role we take very seriously - especially since hair loss has a nasty habit of stemming from environmental and dietary conditions. Today, we'll be taking a look at diet - specifically, the vegan diet.
First, let's be clear: this post is not meant to scare you away from your dietary decisions. We understand that going vegan is a choice associated with both personal beliefs and health restrictions. Followed correctly, a vegan diet can be extremely healthful and fulfilling. This post is simply a guide to help you supplement your diet and make up for potential deficiencies that have been linked to hair loss.
How Can a Vegan Diet Lead to Hair Loss?
Though it may be hard to believe, poor diet has always been a potential risk factor for hair loss. The vegan diet - with its renouncement of all animal products - is particularly susceptible to this side effect, because it relies on plant-based products alone to provide all the nutrients required by the human body.
The most common culprits of hair loss associated with veganism include:
- Rapid weight loss
- Zinc deficiency
- Iron deficiency
- B-12 deficiency
- Lack of complete proteins
- Thyroid problems
That is not to say that proper nutrition cannot be achieved through a vegan diet, it simply requires more planning and a bit of understanding.
Weight Loss and Your Thyroid
Let's look first at the two factors that might require more than a diet adjustment: rapid weight loss and changes to your thyroid. Of course, both of these are affected by your diet and can benefit from adjusting how you pursue veganism, but they have the potential to trigger problems beyond hair loss.
Weight loss is the holy grail of many serial dieters, but rapid weight loss is unhealthy. Typically, it is a sign that your body is not getting nearly as many calories as necessary to keep functioning at its peak. Unfortunately, the vegan diet tends to be calorie poor and rapid weight loss has a history of causing hair loss. In many studies, hair growth returned to normal several months after the initial weight loss, but it is important to heed the warning signs your body gives you.
Thyroid problems are a bit trickier to detect, but in the case of vegetarian and vegan diets higher intakes of soy have been indefinitely linked to changes in thyroid function. Hair loss occurs as a result of both overactive and underactive thyroids so any change to your body's equilibrium can lead to this symptom. In order to counteract excessive soy intake consider adding an iodine supplement to your daily routine.
Adjusting Your Nutrient Intake
It is possible to get all the vitamins and minerals your body and hair requires while following a vegan diet, but it does require a solid understanding of what your body needs to function properly. As mentioned above, zinc, iron, b-12, and protein are some of the necessities that can be lacking in a vegan diet. You can easily increase your zinc and protein intake by consuming more beans, wheat bran, legumes, soy, seeds, and nuts. B-12 is harder to come by in vegan-approved foods so the addition of a supplement is recommended.
Iron is perhaps the most common deficiency associated with a vegan diet since the iron found in plants is less available to the body than the iron found in animal sources. The recommended daily intake of iron is 8 milligrams for men and 18 for women, but if you depend on plant-based foods as your sole source of iron you should be eating 1.8 times that amount. This should counteract that lower bioavailability and achieve healthy levels of the nutrient. Also, consuming vitamin C along with your iron-rich sustenance can help increase the rate of absorption, getting you that much-needed iron in less time.
LH Hair is here to serve your hair loss needs. Our friendly and caring staff is committed to providing you with the best services that are both private and personal. If you would like to learn more or schedule a consultation, please contact us.