Many people battle with hair loss at some point in their lives. Now before we get into what you can do nutritionally to prevent, slow down or perhaps even reverse hair loss, let’s discuss what actually causes it in the first place.
Causes of Hair Loss
Now I wish there were one simple explanation, however, hair loss can be caused by several different factors such as; hormone changes (pregnancy, menopause, birth control pills), stress, unhealthy diet, nutrient deficiencies (common ones being vitamin D, copper, zinc, essential fatty acids), toxicity, low immunity, parasites, gastrointestinal problems, hypothyroidism, excessive dieting, chemical-laden hair dyes/products, age and, of course, genetics!
What this means is that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to treating hair loss. The first step is always to determine the underlying cause and only then can a holistic treatment program be put together. In saying that though there are several nutritional and lifestyle recommendations that will apply in most cases, which I will discuss below.
Nutrition can literally make-or-break your hair! Your hair requires and thrives on good nutrients, just as the rest of your body does. Start by avoiding all unhealthy, nutrient-depleting foods such as refined and processed foods, sugar, soft drinks, fried foods, caffeine, hydrogenated oils, food additives, preservatives etc. This also includes smoking and excessive alcohol intake. Next, focus on including the following;
- Adequate protein: Because the hair is made of protein, a protein deficiency can cause hair loss. Vegetarians or those on a reduced protein diet are especially at risk. Increase protein intake by including free-range, organic animal products, quality protein shakes, hemp & chia seeds and spirulina.
- Iron rich foods: Such as eggs, fish, meat, liver and green leafy vegetables. Iron increases circulation to the scalp which encourages hair growth.
- Water: did you know that the hair shaft is about one quarter water? Make sure you drink at least 4 to 8 cups of water a day to stay hydrated and grow healthy hair.
- Superfoods: These are nutrient-dense, anti-aging and total health boosting foods that help to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss. Examples are green powders, chlorella, spirulina, astaxanthin, broccoli sprouts, medicinal herbs, fresh vegetables and all of the berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, acai, goji berries etc.
- Healthy fats: Such as omega-3 fish oils, avocadoes, olives, coconut oil, chia, raw nuts & seeds etc. Fats help the body assimilate vitamins that are essential for healthy hair.
- Moringa: Due to the exceptional nutritional profile of moringa powder, it may restore hair color as well as help with thinning hair.
- Make sure you get plenty of sunshine: Lack of exposure to the sun almost guarantees vitamin D deficiency, which can then result in hair loss.
- Stop stressing! Hair loss is often the first indication that your stress levels are too high. It is essential that you learn how to relax the body. Use various stress management techniques and make changes in your lifestyle to minimize the stress.
- Try some alternative natural remedies: In Ancient Healing Secrets By Dian Dincin Buchman PHD, some traditional methods of treating hair loss include applying castor oil directly to the hair as a treatment. Similar applications were made with aloe vera juice, olive oil, equal amounts of rosemary tea and olive oil, onion juice, or onion juice mixed with honey… You never know, it may just work!
- Go natural: Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is the dominant ingredient found in almost normal shampoos. In addition to having toxic effects on your immune system, SLS is damaging to hair follicles and impedes hair growth. Switch to organic, chemical-free hair products.
A deficiency in certain nutrients can cause hair loss. Check your levels and supplement accordingly. Below is a list of nutrients which promote healthy hair;
- Biotin: helps prevent hair loss and stimulates hair growth.
- Zinc: aids the body in repairing and growing hair.
- Vitamin E: increases scalp circulation which in turn promotes hair growth.
- Inositol: helps to stimulate hair growth and prevent balding.
- Silica: strengthens the hair follicle and thereby lessens breakage and thinning. It also helps increase shine and body to the hair.
- Ester C: (Vitamin C) helps build collagen which is essential for producing new hair cells. If you are deficient in vitamin C it can cause the hair to become weak and prone to breakage. Also aids in scalp circulation.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: improves hair texture as well as prevents dry and brittle hair.
- Vitamin A: helps stimulate the hair follicle where hair growth begins.
- MSM: (Methylsulfonylmethane) aids with the manufacture of keratin, a major protein component of hair.
If you suffer from hair loss, talk to your health practitioner about possible causes. Eating a healthy diet, taking the right supplements and making a few lifestyle changes will only benefit your hair but it’s always important to figure out the underlying health problem first.