Low Cal Vegan Hair Loss - VeggieBoards

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#1 Old 07-19-2014, 11:21 PM
 
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Low Cal Vegan Hair Loss

I'm 25, 5'8'' and am currently 135lb. I've been vegetarian for about four years with no problems. Supplemented with B12, Iron, DHA and Zinc. Last fall I entered a sedentary job and started gaining a bit of weight so I opted to work out and eat better.

I started exercising regularly and eating vegetarian whole foods mid-November, then began calorie counting around Jan 23 2014. I was aiming for 1400 a day with a free day every week to overeat (all based on bodybuilding research). I did fullbody 3 times a week for 1-1.5 hours, cardio included. I went from 140 to 135 lb pretty fast.

I transitioned to vegan around Feb 2 and joined an online macro tracker (Spark People). I was getting about 35 grams of protein a day which is pretty low. Around March 3rd I started following a more stable meal plan with 60 grams protein a day - Oatmeal, Tofu, Veggies, Fruit, Nut Butters, Quinoa, Beans and Lentils. I quickly went down to 131 pounds. My leg cramped up at this point and I started taking Magnesium and Calcium combo supplements based on research and the problem stopped. I was still low in calories but was fulfilling my carb, fat and protein intake as recommended by the site and online articles.

Around mid-April, my hair started to fall out! Research. I immediately increased my protein intake to 85-95 grams a day (from the same kinds of sources) and aimed for 1600 calories but I had been slacking on the calorie counting and was back to 135lb. I started supplementing with a B complex around late June after more research and am eating a wider variety of fruits/veg .

My hair is still falling out and it hasn't slowed down since it started. Just wondering if anyone has insight based on the dates. I drastically changed my diet, went vegan, lost weight quickly and was calorie counting. I was possibly not meeting my daily vitamins because of one or more of these things - any of them could be the culprit.

I have looked into lysine, B's, iron, protein etc. Every online source says something different. I know it takes about 3 months for hair to start falling out after being shocked into the catagen/telogen resting phase by diet or body stress, so it's hard to pinpoint the cause. I'm worried it should have started growing back by now if I had corrected the problem (should it take 3 months to stop falling out?). I still see a lot of full length hair with the root attached just as when it started. Worst case scenario I will start eating eggs from actual free range chickens I know to see if it helps. I don't want to think about eating eggs atm. I got a blood test early June but they never called to go over it so I assume it's normal. The doctor didn't seem concerned. I am.
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#2 Old 07-20-2014, 12:00 AM
 
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Hi, how old are you? If it is telogen effluvium from the shock of the new diet you dont need to do anything, your hair will stop falling if its own accord. This can take up to one year for it to go back to normal or stop falling. You could be low on iron. Get your ferritin levels checked out. You want you iron levels over 70 for good growth. I took ferrograd c supplements when my levels were low. It could be just shedding do do with hair thinning hereditarily. My hair shed incredible amounts due to stess and never slowed. Turns out the stress was a catalyst for hereditary thinning. It has really slowed now and I use lush solid shampoo new which is amazing. Dont worry too much about your hair if its shock then stress will make it worse and if it is hereditary there is nothing you can do. Best to get your iron levels checked out first port of call.
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#3 Old 07-20-2014, 06:20 AM
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How are your vitamin D levels?

Are you consuming leafy greens on a daily basis?
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#4 Old 07-20-2014, 07:39 AM
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Hi, how old are you? If it is telogen effluvium from the shock of the new diet you dont need to do anything, your hair will stop falling if its own accord. This can take up to one year for it to go back to normal or stop falling. You could be low on iron. Get your ferritin levels checked out. You want you iron levels over 70 for good growth. I took ferrograd c supplements when my levels were low. It could be just shedding do do with hair thinning hereditarily. My hair shed incredible amounts due to stess and never slowed. Turns out the stress was a catalyst for hereditary thinning. It has really slowed now and I use lush solid shampoo new which is amazing. Dont worry too much about your hair if its shock then stress will make it worse and if it is hereditary there is nothing you can do. Best to get your iron levels checked out first port of call.
This is very likely!

Diet is far from being the cause for every problem. Since you've already checked out your nutritional needs, and don't feel the phase of hair growth as spacegirl suggests, you should talk to your doctor.
Now expressing your vegan diet may cause your dr. to also focus on that as many doctors are far from experts on nutrition.
Thyroid and autoimmune issues for example should be checked.
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#5 Old 07-20-2014, 08:24 AM
 
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I'm 25, female, 5'8'', 135 pounds. Fully veggie since September 2009 (no problems, weight didn't even change), vegan since february 2014.

I supplement pretty regularly (4-7 times a week) with Iron, B12, Zinc, DHA (have been since 2009), and now also B-complex, Magnesium & Calcium, and D based on Pharmacist recommended levels after I explain my diet to them. I eat a salad daily (1.5-2.5 cups greens) with 50/50 baby lettuce and spinach, spring mix, spinach or romaine and went through a kale phase as well.

None of the women in my family have hair loss like this. My mom loses a bit of hair near her hairline but it grows back in the winter. No one gets effluvium all over like this so I doubt it's hereditary.

The main concern is my family friends' kids went vegan together and lost their hair so everyone was warning and scaring me that I was going to lose all this hair. They ended up quitting and it grew back (could have been the effluvium had already stopped). Now that it is actually happening to me it's worrying I have read online that your body sometimes reacts to a vegan diet as if it is a crash diet because there's so much change (I went whole foods at this point as well from a pretty western diet and may have lost some fortified foods or vitamin sources). Also the low-cal and weight loss also came up a lot as causes on omni forums.

I will book an appointment to get my blood results back next week so I can check the D, Iron and thyroid levels you mentioned. I think they were all tested. I'm pretty confused at this point but any help is greatly appreciated
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#6 Old 07-20-2014, 09:51 AM
 
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Remember also that hereditary hair loss does not always come from your mother. Your fathers genetics also come into it... fun yey! I did get effluvium all over... and my hair loss wad hereditary. Everyone is different . Have you gone to see a tricologist? Docs are not great with this sort of thing, especially if you tell them you are veg..
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#7 Old 07-20-2014, 10:44 AM
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How did you get 80~90 protein with just 1,600 calories? You'd have to be eating a lot of tofu or protein supplements.

Hair issues are often related to low protein intake or low nutrient intake, but it can also be caused by some diseases. Just because two events are related in time doesn't mean they are connected, that is, you could have started to develop a medical condition around the same time you were changing the diet and the change in diet may have nothing to do with the medical condition.

In any case, if the hair issues are related to your diet it will take many months for your hair health to improve as its only the newly generated hair that will be healthy and hair previously generated will be prone to breaking. I've seen people's hair health suffer when switching to a vegetarian/vegan diet, but I've seen it improve in the same people once they addressed the issues with their diet.
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#8 Old 07-20-2014, 07:50 PM
 
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Good point spacegirl. Still can't think of anyone without a thick healthy head of hair. Only one case of male pattern baldness in my genetic family as well We have pretty great hair. As for protein 15-20 for breakfast with oatmeal and chia,/wheat germ/hemp hearts, 36 lunch from tofu and lettuce (around half a pack of firm, or a pack of tempeh), 20 for dinner from lentil or bean curry with quinoa, and 10 for a snack of kale salad with almond butter dressing. I occasionally traded the lentil dinner with a protein shake of equal protein value if I was working out. A sample day I did from April runs in at 1592 cal, 187 carb, 56 fat and 91 pro. Keep in mind I was focusing on protein at this point because of the hair. My diet was very constant as well. I ate usually apples, oranges, broccoli, carrots, onions, lettuce, kale for fruit and veg.

I will look into a trichologist (didn't know they existed!) when I get my results back. I agree that omni docs seem to scramble blindly for answers when they don't have the background to help you. It could be stress or disease related but it was the timing that got me. It was pretty much on the dot for effluvium.
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#9 Old 07-20-2014, 07:59 PM
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My hair falls out when I am stressed.

Vitamin D from supplements is not the same as sunshine.

What is the daily dosage of Vitamin D? Is it plant based?
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#10 Old 07-21-2014, 02:09 PM
 
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Fingers crossed for effluvium... if it is.. don't fret it will go on its own. Just do not stress! Stress will release hormones which will cause more hairloss. Let me know what the tricologist says
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#11 Old 07-21-2014, 02:23 PM
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Eat more food!!!!!!! Stop worrying about weight and calories and enjoy your food!
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#12 Old 07-21-2014, 09:27 PM
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As for protein 15-20 for breakfast with oatmeal and chia,/wheat germ/hemp hearts, 36 lunch from tofu and lettuce (around half a pack of firm, or a pack of tempeh)..
That is a lot of soy to be eating on a daily basis and it could disrupt hormones. 80~90 grams of protein is overkill for a women, try eating something like chickpea salad sandwich for lunch (which would have (15~20 grams of protein) and see if it helps.
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#13 Old 07-21-2014, 10:58 PM
 
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Good point logic! Hormones really are hairs nemesis if out of wack!
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#14 Old 07-22-2014, 01:57 PM
 
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D is from cholecalciferol - probably wool. Thanks for the heads up on that! Dose is 1000 IU or 25 mcg. I get lots of sun and usually only take D in winter if I start feeling depressed.

Blood work is normal. They didn't test for D but thyroid is normal. Only things that are at the low end or normal are white blood cells, and Ferritin which is at 37 ug/L (normal 10-291). If you think it should be 70 this could be part of the problem.

I used to eat 1/4 pk tofu but upped protein because of the hair stuff and because I was working out so much. Now I am getting more variety in foods. More fruits and veggies and different protein sources like nuts, beans and lentils on top of less soy. I will consult my GP when I see him with my blood results. Maybe he will refer to hair specialist. I have a feeling it's effluvium. Hopefully yes it will improve Thanks for all the insight!
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#15 Old 07-22-2014, 06:19 PM
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Hey logic-- just what constitutes too much soy?
I have a cup or two of home made soy milk a day. tofu maybe every two weeks (I do eat like 6-8 oz), same with tempeh. Again maybe every two weeks a processed food, but that's usually an add in to other foods so not much.
I feel great and being in menopause I have no symptoms to speak of.
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#16 Old 07-22-2014, 09:54 PM
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Hey logic-- just what constitutes too much soy?
I have a cup or two of home made soy milk a day. tofu maybe every two weeks (I do eat like 6-8 oz), same with tempeh. Again maybe every two weeks a processed food, but that's usually an add in to other foods so not much.
I feel great and being in menopause I have no symptoms to speak of.
I'm not aware of any hard limit for soy, but the other poster was eating 4+ servings of soy a day and that could potentially be an issue for some people. It sounds like you're eating, on average, around 2~2.5 servings a day which is similar what people eat in Asia.
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#17 Old 07-22-2014, 11:07 PM
 
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Humm ferritin levels at 37 is pretty low for good hair growth. I took a supplement callled ferrograd c for 3 months to get my iron back up to scratch. You can can buy from pharmacies. could try that and see if it helps... hopefully your gp refers you.
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