Low Protein Levels
The main reason that a vegan diet can cause hair loss or thinner hair growth is low protein levels. One of the best protein sources in a regular diet is meat, so cutting this out of your diet completely could leave you protein deficient. In addition to meat, eggs and dairy products are among the best protein sources available. Protein plays an important role across the whole body but the role of protein for our hair is in the actual formation of hair itself. The protein is converted into a fibrous protein called Keratin. Keratin is used in the formation of skin, hair and nails and makes up more than 90% of the content of each hair follicle.
When protein levels are low, our bodies will focus to support the function of our major organs. This does not include hair growth. This is why hair will suffer the longer we have a protein deficiency. To prevent this we need to replace the lost protein with protein from other sources. There are plenty of foods that have good sources of protein that you can easily add into the diet. Beans, chickpeas, lentils and quinoa are all protein rich food sources. Not only will your hair benefit, but your body’s overall health will improve.
The next deficiency that can be common with a strict Vegan diet is an iron deficiency. This is linked to the lack of meat in the diet, as red meat specifically is one of the most iron rich foods. The role of iron in the body is in the production of red blood cells. These red blood cells are what transport oxygen around the body to our organs - including our hair follicles. Like protein, when we have an iron deficiency, the body will work to support our most important organs first. Hair falls into the category of one of the least important organs.
Iron deficiency can lead to anaemia, which is not too uncommon a condition especially for women. If you are worried that you may be anaemic, it is best to consult with your GP for a blood test. Your GP will be able to prescribe high strength Iron supplements, but you can always add more iron rich foods into your diet as well. Whole grains, beans and leafy green vegetables are all rich in iron and adding more of them to your diet can help boost your iron levels.
When you exclude certain foods from your diet, it is key to know which nutrients and vitamins they were bringing into your diet. Once you remove them, you can then plan to add other foods in to replace the lost nutrients and vitamins. Keeping your levels of all nutrients and vitamins at their optimal levels is key to maintaining a healthy body.
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