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Hair Loss – Nutrition

Hair loss is something that affects many people for a variety of reasons.  Sudden, abrupt changes in our life can cause sudden hair loss like major surgery, severe illness or having a baby but often the hair loss is temporary and will grow back.  Nutritional deficiencies, anemia. overactive or underactive thyroid or imbalances in hormone levels can also cause hair loss but this will occur more slowly and often goes unnoticed at first.  In the case of anemia and possible thyroid issues it is important that you get proper clinical testing and be diagnosed by a physician before trying any new protocol.  Other common reasons for hair loss are menopause and stress.  One thing to keep in mind about restoring hair:  Our hair grows slowly, be patient.  It will take months to see noticeable changes in your hair, at least 3-4 months. 

Improving your diet by adding more whole foods and less processed, packaged, take out or restaurant is a great start but it might not be enough at this stage.  Our bodies need a certain amount of nutrients to keep us going and the body is very good at prioritizing.  Whatever nutrients we put it our bodies, it will decide where it’s to go and I’ll tell you right now, your hair is not first priority so taking a multi vitamin mineral supplement daily will not alone help to reverse your hair loss.  The multi vitamin will give your body what it needs, as its baseline, anything we add will then be free to be used by our hair follicles and possibly reversing our hair loss.  Some of the key nutrients needed for hair growth are biotin, iron, protein, Vitamin D and Saw Palmetto.

Here are some of the BASICS on how to restore hair growth:

  • Biotin – one of the B vitamins (B7) taken for 3-4 months, dose of 2500-5000mcg per day can help improve hair growth.  Good food sources are beef liver, eggs, salmon, sunflower seeds, sweet potato and almonds.
  • Iron – deficiency in iron can only be determined conclusively by lab testing.  It is recommended that you be tested before taking an iron supplement.  
  • Protein – Critical for hair growth but supplementation is not necessary for protein.  Just ensure you include protein rich foods at each meal, either plant based or animal based.  
  • Vitamin D – in the northern hemisphere it is recommended that everyone take a supplementary source.  3000 IU per day will be helpful to stimulate hair growth but it is necessary to be checked on a regular basis by your physician to ensure you are getting enough.
  • Saw Palmetto — A herbal remedy that can reduce the amount of DHT (dihydrotestosterone), known as the “bad testosterone” that our bodies make by preventing the conversion from testosterone to DHT which causes hair loss or thinning hair. Saw palmetto can be used by both men and women since they both have testosterone, varying levels of course, this can occur for both sexes. For women, this will typically happen during peri-menopause when female hormones decrease allowing for an increase in sensitivity to DHT which can cause the hair loss. Daily dose of 250-300mg per day for 3-4 months is recommended.  A Naturopathic Doctor or your Medical Doctor can discuss this with you further. 
  • Rosemary oil- When used topically, rosemary oil can help to increase the re-growth of hair follicles.  Best results occur when used in conjunction with Saw palmetto as they work together to reduce DHT and its effects by preventing damage to the root of the hair follicles. Rosemary oil has also been seen to reduce fungal or bacterial growth due to infections on the scalp, if that is the cause of the hair loss.  Recommend usage:  rub oil into the scalp, especially in areas of the hair loss and leave on scalp overnight.  Wash hair in the morning.  This is best results, treat the scalp 4-7 times per week.

Stress as factor for hair loss is only one health issue.  If stress is a factor in your life it really needs to be addressed because it could lead to other more serious issues like adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues, depression, digestive issues, high blood pressure, ulcers, just to name a few.  Hair loss caused by excessive stress is not permanent.  Once you get your stress under control, your hair will start to grow back.  Some things to consider to reduce your stress:

  • Diet:  improve the quality of your diet, as I mentioned earlier in this article.  Plus, avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.
  • Get some exercise.  Even if it’s only a walk, it will still do you a world of good.
  • Get more sleep and quiet time.  No bluescreen before bed.  It only makes your brain believe that it’s still daytime and it’s not. Low lighting, light reading, warm baths can also help you fall asleep more easily.
  • If you find you need to talk it out and you don’t have anyone to do this with, get a journal.  Write down all your thoughts, even the angry ones.  You can even destroy the bits of paper you write those angry thoughts on.  That can also make you feel better.  They’ve been expressed and now they’re gone.  

With hair loss it’s important to look at all aspects of our lives to try and figure out what caused this issue.  It could be a simple fix or it could require a little more effort on our part to really start paying more attention to the signs our body is sending up.  Messages telling us that we need give a little more care and attention to ourselves.  This can result in improvements of all kinds, not just our body but our mind and our spirit as well.

Written by:  Linda Micomonaco, Certified Nutritional Practitioner 

References:

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/06/03/do-hair-skin-and-nail-supplements-work.aspx

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Biotin-HealthProfessional/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319444.php#research

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/expert-answers/stress-and-hair-loss/faq-20057820