Hair Loss With a Vegan Diet?

by Anonymous

Question:
I followed a vegan diet for about six months and about 25% of my hair fell out. I was not eating vegan junk food but rather, loading up on veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds and legumes. In addition, I supplement with a vegan multivitamin, additional B-12, flax, etc. I've heard hair loss can occur due to weight loss or stress, but I was not overweight or stressed. Your thoughts?

Answer:
Hmmm. This is a puzzle to me. Many people who go vegan actually report the opposite-- thicker, fuller, healthier hair and nails. I would definitely recommend talking to a registered dietician or doctor for a better idea of why that might have happened.

I did some quick research and saw that sometimes zinc deficiency can cause hair loss. You get good amounts of zinc in beans, nuts, seeds, wheat bran, and wheat germ.

You said you took an extra vitamin B12 pill, so I would highly doubt that you had a deficiency there. Vitamin B12 can be found in nutritional yeast, tempeh, and other fortified dairy subsitutes.

Another thing I can think of is just making sure you had enough protein. If you ate a good amount of beans, whole grains, and whole vegetables, you should have had no problem getting enough protein.

The last thing I can think is that perhaps your body didn't feel like it was getting enough food. If you were not overweight before going vegan, you might have needed to compensate by eating more food than you did when nont vegan. Sometimes the body can perceive "stress" not just by external sources like overbearing bosses at work, but by internal things like not getting enough food.

I am going to ask for other readers to answer here if you have any ideas on why this person might have lost hair on a vegan diet.

Comments for Hair Loss With a Vegan Diet?

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Not the diet more the food
by: Veganise

Vegans eat a large number of nuts and seeds. Alot of which contribute to protein, certain nuts such as peanuts (good for protein) help hair growth and thickens it. Hair loss however can occur if this is due to sudden change and stress, or weight loss which happens in a high fibre diet. Eating more of these fatty and protein filled nuts will help with these reasons and can help retain natural hair growth. Please remember aswell that hair loss is primailly due to inheritance, if there is hair loss in the family and you are losing hair, this is probably why.

Much love

x

Vitamin D!
by: Anonymous

I experienced the same thing after about a year of being Vegan. I thought it was stress-related but I went to my Dr. who did a full series of tests and I found that I was deficient in Vitamin D. Once I started taking a D supplement (liquid one in my juice or smoothie each morning) the problem went away.


Hair Loss and Soy
by: Anonymous

(1) I am vegan most of the time and have been for several years, although occasionally have eaten dishes while out socially that may not have been. I drink/eat a good amount of Silk Original Light Milk. When I cut back because a friend said soy was detrimental my next lab work indicated a deficiency of Vitamin D. I routinely took Biotin, too. So I added more Vitamin D, and went back to a more moderate amount of the Silk. Silk coats my stomach so I have less vitamin feedback. (2) I added Calcium with manganese and zinc, and Vitamin C. I occasionally supplement with Chia Seeds, which I plan to increase to daily. (3) When I ran out of Biotin, I substituted a hair skin and nails supplement. My hair dresser friend says my hair is thickening up and has more buoyancy. We have been working on slightly thinning hair for about seven years. I eat raw almonds and walnuts. Still have thin fingernails at times. Some of hair thinning is due to aging and apparently is helped by supplements and lots of dark green leafy greens as our bodies change the way we absorb nutrients. I find all these posts highly informative. Sorry, this is a bit disorganized I should retype it. Ha. (PS) OH... my husband and I recently cut back on most pasta and breads and that seems to help weight control... fairly low carb. --Thanks.

Happened to me
by: Anonymous

Same thing happened to me. I didn't transition but went vegan overnight. I shed alot anyway but noticed a dramatic increase in hair loss and thinness in my ponytail in the first year.

A nutritionist and an herbalist both told me it would pass and the hair loss would decrease. That was 6 years ago and my hair is even fuller than before. I also wash my hair with homemade shampoo and ACV and looks better than ever. I've also noticed that my hair grows faster since going vegan.

You are detoxing and a whole foods diet will do amazing things for you in the long run. Reverting to animal products in even small amounts will just delay the adjustment process. Take supplements and a good vegan multi, vitamin E oil, and probiotics. Skin and hair do well on these, vegan or not.

Hair Loss
by: Sew Reel

Hi Gang...I've been a vegan for 22 years, but only recently began to have hair loss. My naturopath suggested taking iron supplements...I did, the hair loss stopped and my hair is as thick as ever. And, I'm 51. Be sure to take iron in the morning and calcium at night, as they don't get along. They absorb much better when taken at different times of the day. And calcium help sleep.

Hair Growth
by: Anonymous

Tofu

I haven't seen tofu mentioned any place; isn't that considered vegetarian/vegan? Tofu is good protein. It should help with hair growth.

Bobby E. (female)

hair loss
by: Anonymous

I was a vegetarian for many years and occasionally had fish. I gave up dairy prior to giving up fish completely. This is just to give you a history of my diet. I became vegan and later on gave up eating any soy, vinegar, malt, yeast and dextrose. I do not eat any fermented food, which is why I do not follow a strictly raw diet. I get my protein from beans and grains.

I had a period of hair loss prior to becoming vegan. It was sudden and scary. I tried a generic hair product which only irritated my scalp. Turns out I was iron deficient. Since becoming vegan, my iron levels have been fine. I eat seaweed and dark greens to provide the minerals needed in my diet. I have been low on vitamin d and b12, but I take d and use spirulina in powder or pill form and my b12 is just fine.

I learned that a sudden trauma in your life, whether it is physical or emotional, can cause hair loss. Six months prior to the hair loss I had a traumatic event. I didn't know that I was iron deficient either. I believe soy is not a food to eat at all, but if you do, please eat it sparingly. Hormonal changes due to diet can shock your body. My hair is better than it was, but it really didn't return to its original thickness. However, it is not noticeable to anyone but me. My hair and nails grow so fast and healthy, which I attribute to my vegan diet.

hair loss, diet and thyroid
by: Anonymous

Many times hair loss is caused by thyroid issues in addition to possible other hormone changes. The thyroid should definately be checked. You also may have a digestion absorbtion issue, so even though you are eating enough nutrients, they may not be absorbing. I have found that not combining a whole a lot at once is crucial (for any diet) and sticking to one protein per meal (ie not mixing nuts and legumes) is helpful. Eating fruit after a protein meal also taxes digestion. The answer is really not to go back to eating flesh which in long run has negetive consequences, but to try other methods which is seems like most people who answered did.

Also hair falling out on this diet
by: Anonymous

Same thing happened to me. I am continually losing my hair. I eat exactly as other post indicated. I have no medical problems. The only thing I changed was diet. It's been 2 years eating whole grains, beans, all veggies and a tiny amount of flax or chia.

For sure it's my plant based diet. I guess it is not enough. All other mostly plant based diets in the world still use some animal products so I think that's the solution. I hope my hair will grow back after adding fish and eggs perhaps. I know many others this has happened to and they are not eating a vegan junk diet, but a whole food plant diet.

Hormone Changes Cause hair loss
by: Anonymous

My hair fell out 3 months after I went vegan. It happened 3 months after I went on and off the birth control pill as well. By going vegan you radically change the hormone levels in your body because you remove hormone laden dairy and meat products that wreak havoc on our bodies. My progesterone levels, which have always been low, became normal 3 months after going vegan and I was finally, after years of infertility because of low progesterone, able to conceive a baby. The hair loss is normal and it will grow back. Your body went through a dramatic change cutting out all of those harmful animal hormones and it needs to regulate itself.

Hair loss
by: Anonymous

I had the same experience when I began to follow a vegan diet. It took about 6 months for it to begin. I lost enough hair to see my scalp in spots. I was eating very well, counting protein grams and taking supplements. A physician told me that something that is a stressor to your body ( as a dietary change) can be a cause of hair loss and she confirmed that it takes about 6 months for it to take effect. I just rode it out and after several months it stopped falling out and has returned to the same thickness it was before.

An update
by: Anonymous

I was the one who posted about more than half of my hair falling out. I had some other issues caused by low estrogen as well so I added meat back into my diet - just chicken and turkey and only at about 3 meals a week. My hair loss slowed considerably. The painful scalp and bumps I was getting have disappeared. My other low-estrogen issues have reduced, though not disappeared quite yet. However, I've only been back to eating small amount of poutrly for about 6 weeks. I'm glad I didn't have to return to dairy however. I'm not sure if there's an easy solution to this or if it's just what my body needs right now. Going vegan was a good experiment - and for that reason, we're still dairy-free, which was a huge change. My 14 poutry-meals a week husband is down to less than 7. (I haven't eaten beef/pork for over 20 years and hubby only ever has beef at restaurants). So, though no longer vegan, I feel that it helped reset to allow him to no longer feel like he needed meat. The hair loss combined with other symptoms didn't make staying vegan worth it for me - and I had a lot of medical tests before deciding to put limited poultry back in. The other symptoms involved pain - one may be able to deal with thinning hair, but a scalp that hurts all the time was not worth it.

BEWARE OF TOO MUCH PHYTIC ACID...
by: WCHI

i've been vegan for a little over a year, but not without some adjustments...was vegetarian for over 35 years (which may explain, as someone suggested, that the transition was easier).
i feel great and have no hair loss: but recently have been studying about phytic acid and the serious side effects that can accompany - demineralization due to the lack of the enzyme "phytase" necessary to allow mineral absorption. We apparently do make a little phytase lower down in small intestines, but not adequate amounts. Also, some nutritionists say that our bodies will adjust to the diet with time...
There are apparently different ways to compensate for the excess of physic acid:
Avoid soy (being the highest in physic acid) and too many whole grains and beans...(phytic acid is found in many of the foods in vegan diet, including nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, etc...) They are now saying that reducing whole grain consumption and alternating refined flours is better to limit phytic acid - rye having the least amount.
Also, doing regular cures of probiotics can help produce more phytase...
Consuming onions and garlic apparently help counter phytic acid.

i regularly eat all nuts, mainly walnuts and almonds for protein, along with lentils (which don't have a huge amount of phytic acid) and peas and chick peas. i limit whole grain consumption - i do take B12 supplements and am thinking about zinc as well.
i get plenty of sun for Vit.D, but for those who live in less sunny areas, this may be necessary.

Tempeh is supposed to be a good source of protein without much phytic acid content, as do grains and beans that have been soaked or "soured", an age old technique that i'm still learning about....avoid sprouted mung, soy, and other beans
Even though phytic acid has been recently found to help in avoiding cancer and certain other diseases, we still need to be careful not to consume too much, as it can lead to osteoporosis, tooth loss and other health problems...

Supplement Causing Hair Loss
by: Anonymous

Been vegan for years and just recently went fat free. That blasted supplement you are taking is causing your hair loss. Ditch it and eat grainy breads, fruits and veggies and stay as raw as you can. Spirulina and avocados are great and I grow a garden. It is wild how much food you can find in pecans from trees, fruit trees like figs and you can grow beans so very easily from pintos, kidneys, soy, peanuts, sunflowers, etc.

phytic acid
by: Anonymous

Hair loss on a vegetarian or vegan diet (especially vegan) is most likely caused by the phytic acid in seeds, nuts, grains, legumes,cacao and coconut. Phytic acid binds to minerals including iron and causes mineral deficiency and also interferes with protein absorption. Hair needs minerals and protein. Google phytic acid and hair loss for more info.

Nonsoy sources of protein
by: Anonymous

I commented a few posts ago but I saw your post (to the person asking about protein sources) and wanted to mention I am vegan and eat a soy free diet. You can get plenty of protein from beans and legumes (chickpeas, lentils, split peas, black beans, kidney beans etc); higher protein whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, millet, buckwheat groats; whole raw nuts and seeds; nutritional yeast (2 tablespoons have 8 grams of protein); and a variety of vegetables, especially dark green leafy ones. There are also protein powders that are soy free such as pea protein powder, hemp protein powder, and rice protein powder if you feel you need the extra boost.

Beans are extremely versatile and can be used to make burgers, loaves, taco "meat", dips, baked goods and energy bars, gravies, soups, stir fries, you name it, and there is such a variety of them that you never get bored. They are extremely cheap compared to soy products as well, and very good sources of iron and calcium as well as protein and fiber.

A vegan diet without soy is not difficult at all, but you do need to watch for hidden soy in things like herbal teas, commercial breads, nondairy chocolate, etc. The more whole and unrefined your diet is, the better off you are and the easier it is to avoid allergens. I just recently had my hemoglobin checked (for iron) when I had a routine thyroid check just to be safe and it was perfect, this after 20 months of being vegan. I eat lots of leafy greens (2 + cups a day) plus two servings of nuts and/or seeds daily and I think this has helped me avoid problems that others seem to have. Getting a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, grains, and legumes in your diet is key.

Hair Thinning
by: Precious

I have been vegan for over a year and notice within 6 months that my hair start to thinning. I am on B-12-D3-Biotin and multi-vitamin all vegan. I found out through my vegan diet that I have a food allergy. I am allergic to soy and was wondering if there is any other alterntives I can eat in place of protein. My hair stylist she believes I am not getting enough protein. Any suggestion Please give. Thank you.

Non-dairy = hairloss?
by: Anonymous

These comments are very interesting reading to me. I am not vegan, nor purely vegetarian, but I cut out dairy from my diet almost a year ago. In the same period, I have steadily been losing hair and it is noticably thinner now. The reason I went non-dairy was that my skin was breaking out severely, and within a week on the new diet I saw radical improvement. I have tried re-introducing it a couple of times but it made the breakouts come back with increased strength. The theory is that it is the natural hormones in milk that cause the imbalance and therefore the break-outs. So is that the connection with the hairloss? You take away the hormones and that makes the hair thin? I should add that my diet is pretty healthy with lots of vegetables, green juices, fruit and very low in processed foods, plus I take vitamin supplements. I have also had my thyroid tested and everything is normal there.

Hair Loss
by: Anonymous

I have been vegan for 1 year and 8 months and I definitely feel much better. I have a full thick head of hair, more energy, more stamina, better digestion, and the list goes on. I had terrible digestion with dairy in my diet and I used to get congested after consuming meat. I have had hypothyroidism for 23 years so I do avoid soy (and soy is in so many things, even Ezekiel bread!). I only eat out four or five times a year and I maintain a whole foods diet with very minimally processed food. I even grind my own flour with my blendtec.

My Mom on the otherhand went vegan six months ago and she is rapidly losing her hair (I am 40 btw and my Mom is 67). Her diet is similar to mine but she also eats gluten free and I don't think she consumes as many leafy greens as I do (I consume two cups minimum but usually more). I am also in surgical menopause btw and I have a much lower body fat % than my Mom, who is not athletic as I am. We can't figure out why she is losing hair and I am not. Her thyroid tested fine but she hasnt tested for any vitamin deficiencies yet. I had my D levels tested and they are robust. She has not had hers tested yet. Maybe the fact that she has cut out all gluten has made her diet a bit too stringent? It's interesting that even two family members can have such different results with a vegan diet. I don't live with her so I don't know if she eats enough or exactly what she eats. Interesting.

New diet and drop in estrogens
by: Anonymous

I agree with the post above regarding the tie between a dietary change removing most of the estrogen enhancing foods and the subsequent hair loss. I started a whole foods/organic diet about 4 months ago and during the last month I have been losing hair like crazy! I had my thyroid checked and it came out fine so I really started thinking about what else might be causing the hair loss.

I was a big consumer of estrogen boosting foods- soy protein bars/drinks and alot of milk products before my dietary switch- all of which I cut out entirely. The result? my periods got normal again, I lost weight around my midsection and my metabolism went from sluggish to blowing through food!

However on the down side I think the dramatic shift in diet and drop in my estrogen is causing major hair loss...even my eyelashes are falling out and it happened practically overnight.

I am now re-introducing organic soy back into my diet - one soy protein bar per day to see if SOME estrogen enhancing food will correct the problem.

Estrogen link?
by: Anonymous

My hair started falling out in excess. I think I have no less than half the hair I had a month ago! I was having a couple of other issues as well. I went to my dr for some testing and my estrogen level is too low. So, I'm wondering if it wasn't the vegan diet exactly, but that I was not taking in as much estrogen - since dairy and meat have more in them. I do eat soy, but not in excess and stick to soy beans and tofu, not the textured vegetable protien stuff. My dr wanted to prescribe me extra estrogen, but I'm going to try increasing my soy first and see if that fixes things. (I need to look up other higher-estrogen foods as well to increase).

asian
by: sarah

Hadassa is high on something. Soy may not be the healthiest but that whole thing about asians becoming bald by middle age is insane. baldness in asian men and women is not even half as prevalent as it is in caucasians.. FACT

losing hair on Esselsytn diet
by: Barry

I've been on the Esselstyn (heart attack proof) ultra-low fat (no oil, no nuts) vegan diet for nearly a year. The results have been great all around except for my hair has thinned dramatically.

I've tried various vegan and vegetarian supplements suggested by Super Supplements, but none has helped.

Is there something that I'm missing in my diet, some foodstuff that I can add which won't compromise the health benefits I've achieved by this new lifestyle?

Given a choice between going back to feeling the way I used to or losing the rest of my hair, I'll willingly go bald. But I'd rather have my good old mop of salt and pepper.

Thanks for any help that you can offer.

I've lost hair too
by: Nancy

Hi! Been 100% vegan for almost 2 months...feeling great! don't miss a thing...BUT I have noticed I am losing a lot more hair than usual and someone mentioned it was my diet....I eat beans, nuts, seeds, grains, veggies and fruites.....not a big one for substituing butter, meat, cheese ect ect for special occations....I take a b12 and biotin suplement twice a day ....any suggestions??? want to be healthy and leaner but not really wanting to be bald LOL thanks!

hair loss solution and diet
by: hadassa

I was a vegan...I lost 30 % of my hair...that was a year and half ago..

I understood part of the reason why...SOY IS soy is for the human body and is AN ANTI-NUTRIENT period...I cannot say it enough..I see women in natural super markets, loading up on soy like I was doing..with almost no hair left on their head, and they are not even vegans...every time I tell them, as why their hair got so fine..the phytic acid in soy is one of the culpit not to mention the rest of solid medical studies that shows exactly as why soy is so bad..no wonder why so many Asians get almost bald when reaching their middle age and even b4 reaching middle age..that is a fact..If you don t want to get bald or almost bald, remove soy completely and read all labels on prepared foods if their is any soy flour, soy oils etc...Also, most grains, nuts , seed and beans and other starches do have that phytic acid..if a person does not soak those and prepare and cook properly those, they will become deficient s and loose their hair..so here it is, the truth shall set you free, i learned the hard way..Go on a paleo diet of 70 % raw food included for a while, until you grow back your hair..than transition to a OVO-LACTO vegetarian diet...so you can at least keep your hair on your head...

here's my two cents...
by: Anonymous

i think there might be a connection between a sudden decrease in estrogen and hair loss. The typical american diet which obtains roughly 1/2 of the total calories from meat, dairy, and fats also contains considerable amounts of estrogens and estrogen promoting substances. ( google "estrogenic effects of meat" and "estrogen in milk" and "high fat diets and estrogen levels") with that being the case, it would make sense that a sudden dietary switch that cut out all of those things would likely result in a sudden dramatic drop in estrogen levels in some people, depending on their pre-vegan diet. there is well documented connection between hair loss and reduced estrogen levels. for those people who ate little meat (especially red meat) or dairy before going vegan hair loss may not be a concern but for those on the standard american diet they want to make the transition slowly perhaps by reducing their consumption of the problematic "foods" over a matter of weeks or months. This effect could also help explain some of the other negative physiologic experiences that people going vegan have reportedly experienced such as depression, menstrual irregularities, and psychological issues such as depression.

Still a mystery!
by: Anonymous

Hi All, thanks for your continued efforts to help "shed" some light on this. My blood work came back fine, so it is more of a mystery than ever. I'm holding at about 95% vegan and want to see if the hair loss reverses itself. The writer who suggested coincidence may just be on to something; or perhaps it's related to going off several medications when I changed my diet. I have heard, as someone mentioned, that supplements like Biosil can help. Hope that by the next time I write in, my mop will be on the mend. Thanks again.

Detox?
by: Anonymous

I've heard that a vegan diet can cause the body to go into detox mode, which can cause a lot of unpleasant symptoms before the body regulates itself. Perhaps this was the source of her problem? It does seem odd, because I've noticed a complete transformation for the better in everything about myself!

hair vitamin
by: Donna

Add extra Biotin, a B vitamin that is included in many hair vitamin formulas. Take at least 5000 mcg.

Thanks!
by: Anonymous

Thank you all for your comments. I went this week for blood work to check for any possible deficiency in vitamins, amino acids, etc. including a thyroid test. My nutritional doctor suggested I might need more taurine. Wish me luck! My heart is with the vegan approach, just hope my body can come along for the ride.

Possible Causes of Hair Loss Besides Vegan Diet
by: Judith Kingsbury

I've heard from a few people that they experienced hair loss on a vegan diet, but I'm not sure if the two are related. I recently read that iodine deficiency can cause hair loss. Also Vit D deficiency. Hormonal imbalance or food allergies or low thyroid could also be possible causes. I've read that low thyroid condition can be aggravated by eating a lot of soy (e.g. on a vegan diet). There could be an allergic reaction to some new food in the diet. It looks like just about anything could cause hair loss. I think it would be a very good idea for this person to consult a medically qualified someone: e.g. doctor, nutritionist, dietitian, or allergist, and look at all possible causes - rather than groping in the dark. J. Kingsbury, savvyvegetarian.com

Coincidence?
by: imvegan

Many folks go through body changes when they radically change their diets. I have never heard of hair loss, but bloating, lack of energy, cramping pain etc. are common complaints. I would give it a few more weeks to see if your body adapts. If it does not, it is probably not the diet so you should see your doctor. It may just be a coincidence that the hair loss began at the same time you changed your diet.

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