Reducing meat intake for hair loss
Reducing meat intake for hair loss

IS THE RISE OF VEGANISM AND THE ‘NEARLY VEGAN’ CONTRIBUTING TO HAIR LOSS?

The vegan diet is often criticised due to it’s expulsion of mineral rich slabs of meat and animal by-products from the diet, on the other hand meat laden diets have been heavily associated with fatty livers and an increase in type II diabetes. While the number of vegetarians and pescatarians has remained similar to 2019, research estimates that the biggest change is veganism. The number of vegans in the UK increased by 419,000 (62%) over the past 12 months.

To function optimally, the cells of the hair follicle and throughout the body need a balance of proteins, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.  Whilst vegans are often told their hair loss is attributed to their meat avoidance, it can not be ignored that meat eaters lose their hair too.  Yes, meat is a valuable source of iron, zinc, sulphur, B12 and an abundant source of protein it is also a source of oxidative stress and some cancers [1], oxidative stress is known to cause hair loss.  It would appear that some middle ground would be beneficial.

THE DIET AND THE HAIR GROWTH CYCLE

If the hair growth cycle is disrupted due to a lack of protein, minerals or vitamins, the hair follicles will enter the resting phase prematurely and the hairs will be shed (telogen effluvium). This hair fall can happen over a period of weeks or over a matter of days. Vegans and meat-eaters are at risk of inadequate levels of proteins, minerals and vitamins, due to various dietary, genetic or environmental factors; so when hair loss is evident the case should be considered unique and not neccessarily atttributed to veganism.

DOES LOWER MEAT INTAKE LEAD TO HEALTHIER HAIR?

Dietary requirements differ from person to person, on the whole in the UK, a reduction of meat and animal by-products would be likely to be beneficial.  When eating meat, always opt for organic or free-range products when possible.  Research has shown that a protein intake of 0.6 -0.8grams per kilogram of weight is a good target to aim for.  Adequate protein combining and attention to the vitamin and mineral content of food is vital for vegans, for meat-eaters, a refrain from over indulging in meat products is going to be beneficial to hair health and long term health.

REFERENCES

  1. Daulatabad D, Singal A, Grover C, Chhillar N. Prospective analytical controlled study evaluating serum biotin, vitamin b12, and folic acid in patients with premature canities. International Journal of Trichology. 2017 Jan;9(1):19.

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