Vegan diets are often considered a healthier lifestyle choice and have become increasingly popular in recent years as more and more celebrities have sung the many benefits of a vegan diet. However, an expert has warned ditching the meat and following a vegan lifestyle could potentially lead to hair thinning and even hair loss.
Meat such as pork, beef and poultry, contain essential nutrients such as iron, that the hair needs to stay healthy. Iron deficiency has been linked to hair loss in numerous studies. It is responsible for hair growth so it’s logical if you don’t get enough of it, your hair will suffer.
Is it possible to get enough iron on a vegan diet?
There are foods other than meat which contain iron. However, meat does contain the highest concentration of the nutrient. Therefore, it isn’t impossible to ensure you get enough iron on a vegan diet, but it is much more difficult.
You also need to consider other important nutrients too. Zinc, B-12 and protein are all required to maintain healthy hair. Like iron, these nutrients are largely found in meat products. Veganism is one of the most restrictive diets you can follow, which makes it incredibly difficult to ensure you are getting the right level of nutrients the body needs.
That isn’t to say people shouldn’t follow a vegan diet. What it does mean, is more attention needs to be paid to the diet to ensure the correct amount of nutrients are getting into the body.
Understanding the link between diet and hair loss
There are many causes of hair loss and although diet is one of the less common triggers, more extreme eating plans can be problematic. It isn’t just the lack of nutrients which can cause the hair to start shedding; it’s also the stress the body is placed under when certain food groups are cut out of the diet.
Many studies have been carried out over the years to determine how diet can link to hair loss. The results have provided a valuable insight into what we should and shouldn’t be eating to maintain healthy hair.
One benefit a vegan diet does have is the fact it’s low in saturated fats. It’s been proven that a diet high in saturated fats, such as red meat, can lead to hair loss. This is because the fat can end up being transformed into sebum or DHT (Dihydrotestosterone). Both of these are connected to hair loss.
Similarly, foods high in sugar can also trigger hair loss. In the year 2000, Finnish researchers discovered men who had insulin resistance, high blood pressure and were obese, were much more likely to go bald. In order for a person to develop a high insulin resistance, the diet is usually high in sugar.
Finnish researchers did a further study in 2003, to see if the same applied to women. The results revealed a diet high in sugar can trigger hair loss in both men and women. Therefore, those looking to hold on to their hair, need to ensure their diet is low in both sugar and saturated fats.
Of course, hair loss has many causes so before you begin making drastic changes to your diet, you should seek a proper diagnosis. Vegans are most at risk of hair loss due to how extreme the diet is and how difficult it is to ensure you’re getting the right amount of nutrients. Those following a standard diet are unlikely to develop extreme deficiencies which could link to hair loss.