When it comes to going vegan, those making the switch often have a ton of questions surrounding what they can and can’t eat, which products they should use, and more.
One of the more common inquiries relates to how veganism will affect one’s hair. Is going vegan bad for your hair? Does it contribute to hair loss? Are there any positive hair effects caused by the diet?
Is Going Vegan Bad for Your Hair?
First and foremost, we were curious to know if going vegan was bad for your hair. Yvonne ensured this wasn’t the case, as long as you were eating a balanced diet that didn’t skip out on essential nutrients.
“The main nutrients to consider include vitamin B12 to prevent deficiencies, maintaining adequate vitamin D (from the sun or supplement, if this is not necessary where you live/certain times of the year), and consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, biotin, iodine, vitamin E, protein, and zinc,” she shares.
Can a Vegan Diet Lead to Hair Loss?
So what about hair loss? It seems as if everyone is concerned they’ll lose all their hair once they go vegan.
“Transitioning to veganism can lead to hair loss,” Yvonne notes.
Losing weight rapidly, reduction in estrogen, and nutrient deficiency are the three main causes for hair loss.
“If you lose weight rapidly (which can happen if transitioning from a heavy animal-based diet to a whole food plant-based diet) then this can trigger hair loss,” she says.
A standard American diet (SAD) is known to cause high levels of estrogen. When transitioning to a vegan diet, estrogen levels become lower. This is why many notice hair shedding.
“Hair shedding may also be triggered by a rapid reduction in estrogen, a hormone that has a positive effect on scalp hair growth. SAD causes unnaturally high levels of estrogen, which is a factor in many women’s health problems. When you transition to a WFPB diet, it brings estrogen back down to normal levels. The hair follicles initially go into a withdrawal state, resulting in increased hair shedding, but gradually adapt to the reduced (normal) hormone levels. Hair growth will then return to normal after a couple months for most people,” Yvonne states.
The third most common reason for hair loss is not consuming the right nutrients.
“If you go vegan and choose to consume only fast food, cakes, fizzy drinks, and processed cheeses, then you will end up with nutrient deficiencies,” she says. “These deficiencies will affect your hair and, of course, it will thin and lose its shine and thickness. As with any way of eating, there is a right and wrong way to do it.”
How Can You Prevent Hair Loss When Going Vegan?
Hair loss is likely to be experienced by many who go vegan, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be prevented.
“[You can] prevent this from happening by ensuring you are not losing more than one to two pounds per week, if trying to lose weight,” Yvonne notes. “If you were a heavy consumer of animal products and you are worried about your hair thinning, perhaps moving towards the vegan lifestyle gradually may allow the body to adapt to the reduced levels of estrogen.”
The most important thing you can focus on to avoid hair loss is eating a well-balanced diet.
“Remember, not all people experience hair loss once going vegan, this is really individual,” she states. “Eating a well-balanced diet is important for optimal hair quality and prevention of deficiencies.”
Are There Any Positive Hair Benefits Caused by Going Vegan?
The short answer is yes. Though, it does depend on your diet more than anything.
“Many people will find that their hair actually improves once going vegan—its shinier, thicker, and healthier looking,” Yvonne mentions. “Due to the dramatic increased quantities of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, your hair may benefit greatly. The main thing is to eat a variety of whole plant foods and watch your levels of iron, B12, vitamin D, and healthy fats.”
What Are the Best Vegan Foods to Consume for Healthier Hair?
Maintaining a well-balanced diet is tricky at first, but there are a handful of foods that contain everything your hair needs to thrive.
“Include whole foods like avocados, chia seeds, hemp seeds, almonds, cacao, kale, cucumber, açaí, walnuts, tahini, whole grains, butternut squash, apricots, papaya, adequate B12 supplements, iron-rich foods, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and carrots. Drink lots of water daily. For treatment on the outside, coconut oil is excellent as a hair mask,” Yvonne notes.
Be sure to follow Yvonne’s blog Living Vegan on Facebook (@livingveganofficial) for more expert advice like this!