“Help, my hair is falling out!" is a complaint I hear often. It is not pleasant to see hair in your hairbrush or shower drain.
Hair loss may be linked to a person's genetics. However, many physiological and behavioral conditions may interrupt the growth cycle and cause hair loss.
Here are some areas to investigate to determine why you are shedding your prized Rapunzel mane.
Stress is one of the most common causes of hair loss. Acute stress includes those who are grieving or have experienced a traumatic event. Crash dieting and sudden weight loss also create stress that can affect hair follicles.
The good news? This type of hair loss is generally temporary and will usually resolve on its own.
What you can do: Hair loss is your body's way of telling you you've been through a lot. Be kind to yourself and incorporate more self-care (care rhymes with hair).
Nutrient deficiencies linked to hair loss include riboflavin, biotin, folate, B12, fatty acids, Vitamin A, and zinc. Micronutrients are critical for follicle development and immune cell function regulation, which play a significant role in healthy hair growth
What you can do: Are you getting adequate protein? Strive to get .08-1 gram of protein per every lb you weigh. Add in collagen. Collagen is a protein that is packed with amino acids, including glutamine. It helps with giving your hair its strength and your skin its elasticity. Your collagen production decreases as you age, and your ability to make it is reduced if you are chronically ill or stressed.
Determining thyroid issues is crucial in reversing thyroid hair loss.
Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause hair loss. Hormonal changes associated with various life stages, including pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, or fluctuation in thyroid function and thyroid hormone levels, can also lead to hair loss. Have your doctor run a full thyroid panel to make sure your TSH, Free T4 (FT4), Free T3 (FT3), and Reverse T3 (RT3) levels are all optimal. Once you know your thyroid levels, you can work with your doctor to ensure that you're on the right type and dose of supplemental thyroid hormone if needed.
What you can do: Have your doctor run a full thyroid panel (above). Focus on eating whole foods rich in the nutrients needed for thyroid health, including iodine, selenium, zinc, iron, vitamin D, B vitamins, and vitamin A.
If you do not have enough iron in your body, you may develop iron deficiency anemia, which can cause your hair to shed.
Ferritin is a protein in your body that stores iron and releases it when your body needs it. Good ferritin levels indicate that your body's iron levels are balanced and healthy, which is essential for healthy hair. Increasing your iron levels is the best way to treat hair loss with ferritin.
What you can do: Have your doctor evaluate if you are low and require an iron supplement. Continue to take in enough iron through good nutrition and an appropriate supplement.
Balance Your Blood Sugar
Chronically high blood sugar levels can impact your hair follicles' health. Eating excessive processed carbohydrates and not enough quality proteins, and healthy fats can send your blood sugar on a rollercoaster. These dramatic swings in blood sugar encourage your body to convert more T4 to Reverse T3, an inactive form of thyroid hormone. This slows down all of your metabolic processes and can cause thyroid hair loss.
What you can do: Eat non inflammatory foods. Eat balanced meals. Be mindful of making your carbs fiber dense. Manage sleep and stress.
Supplements for hair growth usually include Vitamin A, vitamin B’s such as Biotin and B12, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Iron.
Here are some real food suggestions to ensure your diet includes these nutrients!
Foods with Vitamin A: Liver, Sweet Potato, Carrots, Black-eyed Peas, Spinach, Broccoli, Sweet Red Peppers, Mango, Cantaloupe, Apricots, Pumpkin, Tomato Juice, and Herring.
Biotin is a common B-Vitamin and probably one of the most popular supplements for healthy hair as it has been found that not getting enough Biotin can cause hair loss.
Foods with Biotin: Liver, Eggs, Brewers Yeast, Nuts, Seeds, Salmon, Dairy, Avocado, Sweet Potato, Cauliflower.
B12 deficiency has been linked to hair loss and may be involved in the premature greying of hair.
The Recommended Daily Allowance of B12 is 2.4mcg.
B12 is water-soluble; if, the excess is not fully absorbed, it will be flushed out.
B12 in foods: Meat, Eggs, Dairy. Pro tip: If you are vegetarian or vegan, a B12 supplement, you may want to get your levels checked.
A vitamin B complex vitamin will help increase hair growth rate if you are low in B's. Still, it won't necessarily address hair loss if the underlying cause is high blood sugars, anemia, or another autoimmune disease like alopecia or hypothyroidism. Be sure to rule out other causes before spending a lot of money on hair loss supplements and treatments.
Taking too much iron can be damaging your organs and even cause Iron toxicity, so stick as close to the recommended values as you can and have your doctor check your levels regularly.
Foods high in Iron: Shellfish, Spinach, Organ Meats, Legumes, Red Meat, Pumpkin Seeds, Quinoa, Turkey, Broccoli, Tofu, and Dark Chocolate.
Vitamin C helps your hair by increasing collagen production and making sure the body is properly absorbing iron. Have a lemon vinaigrette with that spinach salad! A lot of supplements overshoot this since it is a water-soluble vitamin. After around 2,000mg, however, some may experience mild gastrointestinal upset, so levels higher than this should be avoided.
Foods high in vitamin C: Citrus, Cantaloupe, Kiwi, Mango, Papaya, Berries, Pineapple, Watermelon, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Sweet Peppers, Leafy Greens, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes.
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant, so scavenging those free radicals at the hair follicle level may help maintain healthy locks long term.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance of Vitamin E for adults is 15mg daily, and the absolute Upper Limit is 1,000mg daily.
This is also a fat-soluble vitamin that can accumulate and cause problems, so be sure to stick around the RDA for the best supplementation results.
Foods high in Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, Almonds, Peanuts, Avocados, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Butternut Squash, Beet Greens, and Trout.Zinc
It is thought that Zinc helps hair growth by playing a role in protein synthesis and cell division.
Most adults have a Daily Recommended Allowance of 8-12mg daily. You can follow this link to get your exact recommended value.
Foods with lots of Zinc: Meat, Shellfish, Legumes, Seeds, Nuts, Dairy, Eggs, Whole Grains, and Dark Chocolate.