With the rising prominence of healthy eating gurus like Deliciously Ella, the number of people in the UK who follow a vegan diet or champion a plant-based approach to eating has soared over recent years. Today, veganism has been taken up by over one in 400 people, with an increasing number of ‘part-timers’ who observe certain aspects of the diet. While the vegan phenomenon claims to rid you of illnesses and cleanse your digestive system, just how healthy is it for your luscious locks? Contrary to popular belief, going vegan could actually be stripping us of vital nutrients and taking a toll on our health. Research claims that the complete avoidance of particular food groups, including meats, fish and dairy, is directly associated with nutritional imbalances and a lack of important vitamins.
With this in mind, it’s no surprise that hair surgeons up and down the country have witnessed an increase in patients visiting clinics with scalp or hair complaints as a direct result of sticking to a vegan diet. This is because the nutritional deficiencies triggered by eliminating essential food groups can cause hair to thin and become brittle.
For example, some vegans may suffer from lack of iodine, which is an element that is needed for the production of the thyroid hormone and is known to contribute to healthy hair growth. Sadly for vegans, iodine can predominantly be found in fish, eggs and dairy products. What’s more, avoiding vital sources of zinc and vitamin B-12 as part of a vegan diet can be damaging to hair growth. Zinc-rich foods include beef, pork and chicken, while vitamin B-12 can be found in meats, fish and other animal products.
However, there are certain steps you can take to prevent your hair from thinning or breaking as a vegan. Consuming sources of omega-3 fatty acids is essential for hair growth but, luckily for vegans, these don’t have to be in the form of fish dishes. In fact, the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids can be found in flaxseed oil, as well as tofu, avocado, walnuts and a variety of seeds.
So, if you’re thinking of dabbling in veganism but want to keep your tresses looking healthy, it may be worth taking a good look at your diet and ensure you’re receiving all the essential nutrients and vitamins.10