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Is my vegan diet affecting my hair?

As veganism is proving ever more popular, the impact of a vegan diet, particularly in relation to a person’s health, is increasingly coming under the microscope. Hair loss is one thing that many people worry about, and it is something that can often affect those living a vegan lifestyle or transitioning to a vegan diet. The good news is that hair loss due to veganism is, for the most part, preventable, as long as you approach your diet in the right way.

When it comes to veganism there are a number of causes for hair loss, e.g. low levels of protein. Cutting meat out of your diet can cause an immediate drop in your protein intake, resulting in low protein levels within the body, which can take its toll as your hair that is mostly keratin – a fibrous structural protein that makes up the majority of your scalp. Reduced levels can, in turn, mean that the body stops hair growth in order to conserve energy for more essential body functions.

There are, however, a number of foods you can eat to give your body the protein it needs, such as black beans, chia seeds, chickpeas, lentils and quinoa, as well as soy products like tofu. These protein-rich foods are also high in other important vitamins, which can help to improve your body’s overall health and ultimately help promote hair growth.

Another issue faced by those turning to veganism or maintaining a vegan diet is nutrient deficiencies. Iron deficiencies, such as anaemia, are common problems – red meat being one of the most everyday sources of iron. Iron is important as it aids the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to our organs – and to our hair follicles. When the body is short of oxygen, the blood supply will be focused on the vital organs rather than the follicles, which can make hair fall out.

Whole grains, beans and green leafy vegetables all contain iron, so including these in your diet can make a huge difference. However, if you suspect you may be anaemic, it’s best to visit your GP, who can prescribe iron supplements.

Opting for a nutrient-rich diet is a good way to keep your body, and hair, in the best condition possible. Colourful fruit and vegetables are great sources of vitamins A, C and E – all crucial for cell regeneration, keeping your hair follicles and scalp in optimum shape. Carrots, for example, are rich in vitamin C, while walnuts are packed with vitamin E.

Weight loss, although not specific to veganism, is one common factor that can impact hair growth and result in hair loss. Rapid weight loss, in particular, can put a tremendous amount of stress on the body, which can force more hair into the telogen phase, leading to shedding – this type of hair loss is known as ‘telogen effluvium’. Maintaining a balanced diet and keeping track of your calorie intake is essential to avoid rapid weight loss.

If you’re worried about your hair loss and want some expert advice, our team are happy to talk through your options.

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