Everyone wants to have thick, glowing and healthy looking hair. A full head of hair is not only associated with overall appearance, but it also signifies a healthy person on the whole! In the case of male-pattern baldness, a distinct mechanism for hair loss has been identified related to the metabolism of testosterone (specifically a high amount of conversion to 25-alpha-DHT). But what about those cases where your hair just seems to be thinning, becoming brittle, or falling out in no particular pattern? This can be worrisome for both men and women.
In these cases, or in any situation where you feel your hair is not at the peak of its quality, there are a few considerations to be made:
- Low thyroid function: If you also have symptoms of weight gain, fatigue, constipation, intolerance to cold and dry skin, hypothyroidism may be the cause of your hair loss or hair thinning. See a physician to have your thyroid levels tested. If your thyroid levels are low, medication may be required but it may also be important to ensure adequate tyrosine intake, iodine and zinc!
- Stress: High stress and adrenal fatigue have been long known to contribute to poor hair growth. If you noticed hair loss or changes in hair quality starting around the time of major stress, consider stress management techniques and proper nutrition for your adrenal glands (the organs responsible for producing hormones, ie cortisol, to fight stress). This may include more Vitamin C, B-vitamins and adaptogenic herbs.
- Mineral deficiencies: Hair is composed of multiple minerals. Not only does it contain the more common minerals such as calcium and magnesium, but also trace minerals like zinc, silicon, selenium and manganese. Consider a bone broth in order to extract a blend of all of these minerals or use a targeted supplement (see Ortho Minerals).
- Low Iron: Aside from fatigue, one of the many symptoms of iron deficiency can be hair loss. Even in women that are not considered anemic (ie. once blood levels of iron are low enough to create concerns with oxygen delivery), less than ideal levels of iron and iron storage (ferritin) can lead to suboptimal hair health. Just like thyroid hormone, it is important to have your blood levels tested before supplementing.
- Protein Intake: Hair is not only made up of minerals, but also collagen – the sticky protein that helps keep all of those minerals together! If you have been experimenting with a new diet, if you are vegan or if you have any other reason to be protein deficient, start tracking your protein and increasing your intake. Vitamin C is also extremely important for building collagen so fruits and vegetables (or supplementation) are needed, too.
In most cases, these suggestions should have you well on your way to a thicker and healthier head of hair. If you are experiencing any other symptoms including, but not limited to, fatigue, weight loss, diarrhea and skin changes, then be sure to contact your family doctor in order to be properly assessed and treated for any underlying causes of hair loss. Otherwise, keep in mind that any interventions to help with hair growth will take minimum 2-3 months before seeing an improvement. So don’t get discouraged as the process is slow!
If you have tips and tricks to keep your hair healthy and full, share with everyone by leaving us a comment below!
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Song Youn Park, Se Young, Na Jun, Hwan Kim, Soyun Cho and Jong Hee Lee. Iron Plays a Certain Role in Patterned Hair Loss J Korean Med Sci. 2013 Jun; 28(6): 934–938.