My new diet caused my hair to fall out & change

Fit girl in a pony tail

Normally I wear my curly hair down, but I decided to blow dry it straight and put it in a pony tail. What alarmed me was how thin my hair was. My hair has been really thick my whole life. On a recent visit to my hairdresser, she asked, “Why is your hair so thin? Did you go on Medifast?” I replied, “No, I went vegan four weeks ago. I haven’t lost a lot of weight, just two pounds.” She put her hands through my hair, lifting up different sections, and said, “This doesn’t even feel like your hair. Look, this is where a chunk of your hair fell out.” She pointed to an entire row of hairs by my forehead. “But it’s growing back.” She said. The hairs were thin and flyaway. She went on to say that when a person makes a drastic change in their diet, it’s common for hair to fall out, because it’s a form of trauma. She said she sees the worst cases when people go on a Medifast diet, and when their hair grows back, it’s completely different than before.

While I am enjoying being vegan, I love being able to eat lots of carbs and more nuts, I know that hair loss is a sign that there is some sort of nutritional deficiency so I’m going to increase my intake of complex B vitamins, and take in more protein powder.

It’s not just Medifast, or a vegan diet that can cause hair loss. “Without adequate fat, women may stop menstruating and hair may turn dull and lifeless and fall out (1).” We do cook our food in a little bit of oil, and we eat lots of seeds and nuts, so I don’t know if my hair loss is due to inadequate fat intake. Hair loss can also be due to eating too few calories, not getting enough protein or iron (2), and excess stress (3).

With the current Coronavirus pandemic, I’ve been under a lot of stress, so I’ve stopped in-person training, reduced the intensity of my workouts, added calming short yoga practices, and have been self-isolating, to reduce stress and decrease the chances of contamination.

I really don’t want to add animal products back in my diet, so I’ll increase the vitamin and protein supplements (there’s only so much beans, tofu and grains I can tolerate on a daily basis), and work on eating more calories if I lose too much weight, but if the only way to get my body healthy is to be plant-based instead of vegan, I’ll do what’s necessary to keep myself in tip-top shape.

Photo: This photo was before my hair started thinning. It’s half as thick as it was then!

Add’l sources:

  1. Perkins, Sharon. “Medifast Diet Dangers.” Livestrong. Blog.

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