Female Hair Loss FAQ: I’m thinking of becoming vegan, but read somewhere that it can cause hair loss. Is this true?

Although becoming a vegan is usually seen as making a healthy choice about diet, there are scare stories that it can cause hair loss. Diet does have a direct effect on the health of your hair and any diet that restricts what you can eat could lead to a deficiency in a key vitamin and mineral that can impact on your follicles.

What do your follicles require for healthy hair growth?

Proteins; proteins are made up of amino acids and all tissues in the body require amino acids for nourishment and healthy tissue renewal, so if there is a deficiency then they are diverted to the important and necessary body functions, meaning your hair is often the first to suffer.

There are a few essential amino acids that the body uses to convert into what are called non-essential amino acids and the body is unable to produce those essential amino acids so they must be consumed from our diets on a daily basis. The eight essential amino acids all come from animal sources – meat, fish, eggs, milk – which is why a vegan diet can sometimes end up being deficient.

It is possible to find these essential amino acids in grains, nuts and vegetables, a larger and more varied quantity will need to be consumed. Good sources of protein in plants include tofu, coconut, chick peas and quinoa.

Iron; the body requires high levels of iron for healthy hair. Highest quantities of iron are found in red meat so vegans need to find plant sources that are full of iron. These include any dark leafy greens, such as kale, broccoli and kale. Pulses and almonds are good sources of iron and it is possible to purchase cereals that are already fortified with iron.

B vitamins; in particularly vitamin B12 that is required for healthy hair growth. It’s not present in vegetables or plants but is found in milk and eggs so a vegan would need to look for soy milks or cereals that are fortified with B12.

The advice from our female hair loss expert is that your diet should always be balanced and varied, whether you’re vegetarian, vegan or a meat eater, to boost hair growth and prevent any hair loss.