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Hair loss and vegetarian diet

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Well I have been experiencing hair loss for quite some time, and today my dermatolgist said it is probably due to inadequate nutrition.

I am vegetarian. He told me to start taking Zinc and also to get protein powder.

Has anyone experienced hair loss due to their diet? Were you able to improve you hair?

Also, any recommendations for what kind protein powder?

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I always heard that B12 vitamins will help with hair loss in the case of a vegetarian. I haven't noticed any hair loss so I haven't really started any supplements.

i know anorexic people suffer from hair loss from lack of nutrients. you're probably not getting enough protein (which is supposed to be what fortifies your hair). in that case, stock up on beans, lentils, stuff like that. also, meat subsitutes have alot of protein in them and are pretty tasty (:

The Mayo Clinic has a helpful article on hair loss ... 00278

=^..^= MOLLY


Diets that are too low in fat, including very low fat vegetarian diets are notorious for causing hair loss.  IMHO, some of the very popular starch-based vegetarian diets are way too low in fat.  Are you getting some healthy fat in your diet?  Including some raw, unsalted nuts and seeds in your diet is extremely good for your health.   

BTW, back when I was in weight watchers, it was a well known fact to our leader that lack of fat a) inhibits weight loss, and b) causes the hair to fall out.  There were folks in our group who thought that they could lose weight faster if they cut the fat out entirely (i.e. not eating any food from the weight watches 'fats' group), and instead they stalled their weight loss and their hair started falling out.  As soon as they added the fat back in, the weight loss resumed.  Ironically, your body actually needs some fat in the diet in order to lose weight, otherwise it just hangs onto the weight.


I, too, am a vegetarian. But when I suffered from an ED, my hair fell out, too. So you're not getting adequate nutrition.

I used to think being a vegetarian simply meant cutting meat from the diet, and that was it. Well, that leaves a big gap that needs to be filled. Make sure you get plenty of protein from lentils, beans, dairy (if you eat it), grains, etc.

Iron deficiency is another factor. I used to think eating a few servings of broccoli a day would provide my iron. Well a cup of cooked broccoli doesn't even get you 1/10 of the iron you should be getting. Eat foods rich in iron such as lentils, beans, cashews, asparagus, whole wheat pastas, etc. Vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron when eaten at the same meal - so vegetarian chili with tomatoes and beans, for example, would be an excellent, iron-rich meal.

Here's a site with other suggested iron-rich foods. Scroll to the bottom to see a chart: ient&dbid=70

I eat really nutritious foods but I also take a B complex "50" every morning as well as a mineral tablet with zinc & iron. 

After 15 months of a vegetarian diet I am now paying way more attention to how much nutrients we need and how many foods don't have enough.   I am cooking more with lentils, beans, and quinoa.  Nuts or seeds for snacks.   

It's one thing to be a vegetarian, but being a healthy vegetarian takes work! 

I am not a vegetarian but I do eat a mostly vegetarian diet.  I am also on medications that causes hair loss so I have experienced this.  Look at all the side effects of your medications if you are on any other then that I agree with all of the above posters.  I had to increase my protein intake and be very consistent with getting the right percentage of fat/protein/carb in my diet to eat nutritionally.


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Thanks, everyone! All the replies were so helpful.

I am going to start eating beans and lentils, as I rarely eat any. I'm also going to try and eat more healthy fats, that is another thing I think I'm lacking on. Do you know how much fat you are supposed to get in your diet?

Is it possible to grow my hair back with an improved diet? It seems like it won't be able to come back...

And the only other factor which may be contributing is birth control.
I think for a 2000 calorie diet, nutrition labels usually say 65 grams of fat total, with no more than 20 grams of saturated fat. I don't know how much that would change if you eat less than or more than 2000 calories, or even if that is an ideal number of grams as opposed to a maximum. I guess what you're looking for more is a minimum gram number... sorry.
Alrighty, here's a formula to find out how many grams of fat you should aim for!

1.) Take the number of calories you eat in a day. I'll use 1800 as an example.
2.) You should eat from 20-30% of your calories from fats. I'll use 30% in this example.
3.) Multiply your daily calories (1800) by the percent of fats you want to eat (30%). So:

1800 x 0.30 = 540

So you should eat 540 calories from fat. Since each gram of fat equals 9 calories, divide this number by 9.

540 / 9 = 60g of fat
woah i calculated the fat percentage and i'm supposed to be getting 40 grams?? that's insane. i eat probably like 20 on average.. :| is it really that healthy to eat that much fat? it sounds gross.
muttlover's figure of 20-30% calories from fat IS generous - I would have thought 12-15% is a reasonable minimum. I can see having more than the minimum if you have hair loss problems, though.

PS: 20-30% calories from fat are figures I've heard recommended to omnivores, who need to show a bit of self-restraint just to keep within the 30% limit.
Original Post by flamel:

muttlover's figure of 20-30% calories from fat IS generous - I would have thought 12-15% is a reasonable minimum. I can see having more than the minimum if you have hair loss problems, though.

PS: 20-30% calories from fat are figures I've heard recommended to omnivores, who need to show a bit of self-restraint just to keep within the 30% limit.

 20-30% of calories from fats is not generous, it's right on the money.  According to the World Health Organization you should be consuming 15-30% of your calories from fat (pdf - page 56):

  • Total fat - 15 to 30% 
    • Saturated fatty acids - <10%
    • Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) - 6 to 10% 
      • Omega-6 Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) - 5 to 8%
      • Omega-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) - 1 to 2%
    • Trans fatty acids - <1%
    • Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) - By difference
  • Total carbohydrate - 55 to 75%
    • Free sugars - <10%
  • Protein - 10 to 15%
  • Cholesterol - <300 mg per day
  • Sodium chloride (sodium) - <5 g per day
  • Fruits and vegetables - 5400 g per day
  • Total dietary fibre - From foods
  • Non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) - From foods

I am having similar problems - i am a raw vegan and have been for six months now. I have noticed that my hair is really starting to thin and im so worried, i dont want to touch or brush it at all. I guess you could say i had an ED i ate very little and nothing cooked. Im starting to see now that im slowly hurting myself and i need to make a change so im reaserching and starting to eat more grains and seeds and fats like avocados. im also thinking about including more beans seeing as how that is something that i have not eaten in months and months. i really hope that the hairloss will stop and grow back soon im so scared!

The raw vegan diet is very healthy but if you don't eat enough calories and enough of the right things i.e plenty of fruit and greens then this might be why you are noticing this. There could be other reasons. Are you getting enough protein? enough B12?

Eat more fat.  I eat a lot of fat and my hair is thick and luscious.  Also, avoid stress.  It's bad for your hair.  Avocado, nuts/seeds, coconut, olives, raw cacao. 

I have no problems with my hair either, and I have been vegan for one year eight months.  My hair is very thick and healthy, though I keep it short.  I too consume nuts/seeds every day, especially flax seeds, and include cocount and other healthy fats in my diet daily as well as a minimum of two to three cups of leafy greens daily.  I do not eat soy (allergy and interferes with a medication I have been on for years) but I consume a lot of dried beans and whole grains like wild rice, buckwheat groats, millet, quinoa and also a lot of fruits and vegetables.  I also use nutritional yeast a lot.  I also do not use commercial shampoo.  I make my own using pure essential oils diluted in water and pure vegetable soap.  I have done this since going vegan and my hair is healthier than when I loaded it with alcohol laiden shampoo full of drying chemicals. 

My Mom on the other hand went vegan in April and she is rapidly losing her hair.  She does not consume soy either, and she does not consume gluten due to an allergy.  But I don't think she eats enough high quality fats in her diet.  She only uses olive oil which I think is worthless unless it is a very organic high quality less processed type.  I don't think she eats enough either but I am not sure because I don't see her very often.  I imagine she isn't getting as much variety in her diet since she avoids all gluten also and doesnt cook and prepare food as much as I do.  It isn't hard to eat a large variety in a vegan diet but you need to be willing to try different things and make an effort.

As an omnivore I lost hair when I was starving myself, and also before that when I had a traumatic hysterectomy and removal of both ovaries seven years ago and went through hell with surgical menopause.  It took years for my body to settle down and I needed hormone replacement to feel human due to my young age (I was 33 when I first experienced surgical menopause) Menopause and hormone shifts can cause hair loss (especially if you are on a form of birth control).  So can hypothyroidism and so can lack of sunlight.  So can lack of iron (always include a source of vitamin c when eating dried beans, blackstrap molasses, or leafy greens or other plant sources of iron for better absorption).  Lack of protein is only one varient in hair loss but it is not the only reason people lose hair.  Personally if I were losing hair I would have tests done for any vitamin deficiency and other causes (thyroid tests and hormone etc) before assuming it's because of any one thing.  I also wouldn't just take some doctor's assumption that because I am vegan my diet is inadequate without asking me questions about what I eat first and how much of any given nutrient I get daily.  I eat a heck of a lot healthier than my omnivore husband who lives on soda pop, chips, and maybe one vegetable a week and yet his doctors never question his diet.  Sighs.

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