• Post last modified:December 12, 2020
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After following a ketogenic diet for a while, I have noticed more hair loss. Additionally, the symptoms have not improved.

I searched the Internet and found that many people encountered a similar problem. Moreover, hair loss turned out to be one of the most common side effects of the ketogenic diet.

Today I want to summarize what I have learned about the causes of hair loss while you are on a keto diet and the ways to stop it. If you have similar problems, I hope this article can help you out.

Does Keto Diet Cause Hair Loss

Know Your Hair Growth Cycle

A single hair has two separate structures: a hair follicle and a hair shaft. To ensure proper hair health, you need to make sure both the follicle and the shaft are healthy.

In addition, hair does not grow continuously. It falls off naturally and new hair will grow after a period of time.

The growth cycle of a hair begins with a new birth, aging, shedding and finally new hair grows from the same pore. [*]

  • Anagen phase: This is the most active growth period for hair, which usually lasts 2 to 6 years. During this stage, hair grows at a rate of about 1.3 cm per month. It grows faster in summer than it does in winter.
  • Degradation stage: This is a short transition period that usually lasts two to three weeks. At this stage, hair stops growing.
  • Quiescent period: This period can last for several months. The aging hair will fall out.
  • Neonatal period: The “hair papilla” under the hair follicle begins to divide and proliferate new cells. Then, new hair begins to grow.

Under normal circumstances, with the continuous growth of new hair, an average adult can have up to 150,000 hairs, while shedding up to 100 hairs every day.

However, certain factors can speed up the life cycle of your hair, leading to more hair loss. Changes in diet are an important factor.

5 Reasons Why The Keto Diet Causes Hair Loss 

The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate but high-fat diet. It’s actually a restrictive diet. A restrictive diet may cause hair loss.

Rachel Lustgarten of Cornell Medical Comprehensive Weight Control Center mentioned: If you don’t properly follow the ketogenic diet, it is easy to miss some important nutrients. As a result, you may experience keto flu, including hair loss.

A study found that a keto diet was effective in alleviating seizures in children, but 2 out of 45 participants experienced hair loss.

Any major dietary changes may cause temporary hair loss. This is similar to the hair loss caused by hormonal changes in pregnant women. Changes in diet can also affect your hormones and it may take some time for your body to adjust. 

The following are the 5 reasons why the keto diet causes hair loss.

1. Not eating enough calories

Many keto newbies think that they can lose weight as long as they strictly limit carbohydrate intake. 

It is true that eating less carbs can help you lose weight. However, it can also lead to insufficient calorie intake.

Any low-calorie diet may affect the health of hair and cause hair loss. [*]

2. Lack of vitamins and minerals

Studies have found that a lack of amino acids and micronutrients (such as zinc)  were responsible for hair thinning in the participants.

When you eat very few carbohydrates, your body produces less insulin and glycogen stores get depleted. As a result, your kidneys excrete large amounts of water and electrolytes like sodium, zinc, magnesium, potassium and iodine.

These minerals are important nutrients to ensure healthy hair.

3. Increased stress

Any dietary changes can make your body come under various amounts of stress. Stress may cause temporary hair loss. [*]

When you change your diet, your body takes in different ratios of nutrients and calories than it did in the past. In addition, you are likely to experience “keto flu”. All of these can cause a certain degree of physical stress and psychological burden.

In most cases, hair loss caused by stress is temporary. It usually only lasts two to three months.

4. Lack of Biotin

An animal experiment found that a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet can lead to biotin deficiency.

The keto diet strictly limits the intake of carbohydrates. Therefore, even some vegetables or fruits that are rich in vitamins and trace elements have become taboo foods. As a result, this can lead to incomplete nutrition, including biotin.

Biotin is also known as vitamin H. Your body needs biotin to help convert certain nutrients into energy. It also plays an important role in maintaining the health of hair, skin and nails.

5.Lack of protein

A standard ketogenic diet should include a small number of carbohydrates, an appropriate amount of protein and a high proportion of healthy fats.

Many people can guarantee the intake of carbohydrates and fats but often ignore protein.

Some people worry that eating too much protein will get their body out of ketosis due to gluconeogenesis. In fact, even a low-carb and high-protein diet (such as a carnivore diet ) can easily keep you in ketosis.

When lacking protein, your hair enters a static state, which helps your body save protein. This can lead to hair loss after a period of time. [*]

Prevent Hair Loss on Keto by Supplementing 11 Nutrients

All tissues and organs in your body need sufficient vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to function properly.. Hair is no exception.

When you follow a ketogenic diet, supplementing certain specific nutrients is essential for healthy hair growth and preventing hair loss.

1. Biotin

Biotin is one of the most effective natural hair extenders. It can promote rapid hair growth and hair regeneration.

Foods that are rich in biotin and suitable for a keto diet include:

  • egg yolk
  • animal organ meat, such as liver and kidney
  • nuts, including almonds, walnuts and peanuts
  • cauliflower
  • mushrooms
  • avocado
  • spinach

You can also take biotin supplements. The daily dose recommended by experts is 2 to 5 mg (2000 to 5000 mcg) of biotin to enhance hair health.

2. MSM

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a chemical substance naturally found in green plants, animal products and algae.

MSM helps to establish links in the body’s structural tissues (including skin, nails and hair). This enhances keratin, which is a fibrous structural protein required for the health of hair and nails.

3. Collagen

Collagen is a part of hair follicle stem cells (HFSC). The role of collagen is to produce new hair cells. A lack of collagen triggers the early aging of these stem cells, leading to hair loss.

Supplementing collagen can prevent early hair loss, thinning hair and gray hair.

4. Zinc

Many studies have shown that zinc deficiency can cause hypothyroidism and severe hair loss.

Here are ketogenic-friendly foods high in zinc:

  • lamb
  • grass-fed beef
  • cocoa powder
  • pumpkin seeds
  • cashew nuts
  • mushrooms
  • chicken

5. Vitamin C 

The most well-known function of vitamin C is to strengthen the immune system. It also has a little-known benefit that helps to produce collagen. Healthy hair and skin need collagen.

Here are keto-friendly foods high in vitamin C:

  • bell peppers
  • kale
  • spinach
  • Brussels sprouts
  • coriander
  • thyme

6. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is an important nutrient for hair growth, as well as maintaining healthy skin, eyesight and immune system.

Many high-vitamin A foods (such as meat, eggs, dairy products and fish) are suitable on a ketogenic diet.

However, one thing to note is that you should not take vitamin A in large amounts. An overdose can cause vitamin A poisoning. The symptoms include visual disturbance, headache, nausea and vomiting, joint pain, etc.

If you follow the ketogenic diet correctly, you can basically get enough vitamin A from the food you eat.

7. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption and many other body functions (Including maintaining healthy hair).

Keto-friendly foods that are rich in vitamin D include:

  • high-fat fish such as salmon, herring, tuna and sardines
  • oysters
  • egg yolk
  • mushrooms

Regular sun exposure and a balanced diet can ensure you get enough vitamin D.

However, if your skin is rarely exposed to sunlight (such as in winter), you need to supplement vitamin D. The recommended intake should be 1,000 IU per day.

8. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can promote the healthy growth of cells and hair.

Here are some Keto-friendly foods rich in vitamin E:

  • sunflower seeds
  • almonds
  • hazelnuts
  • peanuts
  • avocado
  • spinach

9. Protein

Red meat, poultry, fish and shrimp are great sources of protein for a ketogenic diet.

However, if you are a vegetarian or a vegan and want to try a keto diet, you probably won’t get your protein from animal foods. This result can lead to hair loss and more serious complications such as muscle loss and immune system damage.

Fortunately, many keto-friendly plant foods also contain protein. For example:

  • soy products, such as tofu and tempeh
  • nuts and nut butter
  • chia seeds and flaxseeds
  • vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, asparagus and Brussels sprouts
  • green beans

10. Iron

Iron deficiency in the body can cause many health problems, including anemia, fatigue, headaches and dry or damaged hair. Women have a higher risk of iron deficiency than men.

You can add these iron-rich foods to your ketogenic diet:

  • shellfish
  • spinach
  • red meat
  • pumpkin seeds

11. Probiotics

When you change your eating habits, it can affect the balance of the intestinal flora. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that can help restore this balance.

Eating more foods containing probiotics or taking dietary supplements can help improve digestion. Better digestion can make it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients it needs, in order to maintain good health, including healthy hair.

The following keto-friendly foods can increase the beneficial bacteria in the intestines:

  • sauerkraut and kimchi
  • asparagus
  • garlic
  • bone soup
  • apple cider vinegar
  • ginger
  • Greek yogurt
  • coconut oil
  • blueberry
  • avocado
  • chia seeds

Summary:

Hair loss on a ketogenic diet is only temporary. Therefore, it should not discourage you from staying on the keto lifestyle. 

You can prevent or relieve the symptoms of hair loss by adjusting your diet.

  • Eat enough calories.
  • Eat foods rich in vitamins, minerals and electrolytes.
  • Eat foods rich in biotin (liver, egg yolks, avocados, etc.).

In addition, you can also try yoga or meditation to reduce stress.

If none of the above methods solve the problem, it is recommended to seek medical attention as soon as possible to ensure that there is no underlying health condition. In addition, you should always discuss any supplements you may want to take with your physician before taking any.


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