Today, the premature hair loss issue affects many people around the world. It is important to remember that hair loss can be caused by various factors ranging from genetics to autoimmune diseases. While some conditions require complex and precise medical attention, proper nutrition may bring additional benefits to your hair health and your whole body. This article will look into the possible causes of hair loss and determine how proper nutrition may improve your hair health.
What causes hair loss?
- Genetics and family history – ageing and genetics are common causes of hair loss. The condition shows up in both men and women as male-pattern baldness and female-pattern baldness. This genetically predetermined condition is called androgenic alopecia.
- Hormonal changes – women undergoing hormonal changes during pregnancy or after childbirth may experience hair shedding due to a sudden change in hormones. During pregnancy, the female body experiences rapid hormonal growth. Many women may notice their hair becoming thicker during pregnancy. However, after childbirth, hormone levels start returning to their pre-pregnancy state again. Such a rapid hormonal change may cause temporary hair shedding. In addition, women suffering from hormonal imbalance or those going through menopause may also experience hair loss. In those cases, it is essential to check your hormone levels regularly and follow your practitioner's recommendations to normalise your hormonal balance.
- Medical conditions – autoimmune diseases or thyroid problems may cause hair loss. If you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy cells in your body, including hair follicles. One of the most serious autoimmune conditions, alopecia areata, may cause severe hair loss on your scalp or, in some cases, on your eyebrows and eyelashes.
- COVID-19 – hair loss has become one of the most common long-term side effects of the coronavirus infection due to micro-thrombosis in hair follicles.
- Medical treatments – certain medical treatments for conditions such as cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems, gout or high blood pressure may cause hair loss as a side effect- Hairstyles – Certain hairstyles like pigtails or cornrows can cause traction alopecia.
- Severe stress – you may experience hair loss after an impactful stressful event in your life or as a result of ongoing stress or depression.
If you are going through severe emotional distress or feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with your emotions, please seek the help of a professional mental health counsellor.
If you are experiencing day-to-day burnout or trouble managing your emotions, you can incorporate mindfulness practices for stress management, such as yoga, meditation or journaling. To learn more about starting your journaling practice, check out our latest blog article on the topic.
How nutrition and supplementation can promote hair growth?
It is important to remember several medical conditions can cause that hair loss issues, and supplements alone should not act as primary therapy for your specific needs. However, several studies suggest that nutrient deficiencies can exacerbate the situation, and normalising microelements levels in your body may become additional support for your hair growth and health.
For example, a 2019 study suggests that micronutrient deficiencies may become a risk factor associated with the development of stress-related alopecia and the efficacy of its treatment. Another study showed that nutrition and supplement intake have an additional impact on women's hair loss issues during menopause.
Let's look closely at the essential vitamins and microelements that may support your hair growth.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Vitamin B7, also known as biotin, has probably been the most well-known nutrient in hair loss treatments. The reason is that biotin stimulates keratin production, the protein that makes up the hair structure and increases follicle growth. Biotin also aids in creating red blood cells, which carry oxygen and nutrients to the scalp and hair follicles. However, despite being touted for its hair growth benefits, biotin alone is not a panacea for hair loss issues. A 2017 study in the journal Skin Appendage Disorders underlines that biotin supplementation may only benefit those suffering from its deficiency, as there is not enough clinical data to display sufficient benefits in hair loss treatment among the general population. Nevertheless, maintaining optimal levels of biotin may help you support overall hair health and fortify hair follicles.
According to recent studies, Vitamin D and healthy hair growth are closely intertwined. Vitamin D is synthesised in our skin by keratinocytes – cells responsible for keratin production and the healthy development of hair and nails. Therefore, if you have low levels of Vitamin D, keratinocytes in hair follicles won't be able to function normally.
Vitamin D also plays a role in the overall support of the immune function and prevention of the development of autoimmune diseases, such as alopecia areata. Some clinical studies found the efficacy of Vitamin D supplementation in the treatment of alopecia areata and androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness). It is also important to remember that any infectious disease, prolonged illness or low immune system may cause hair thinning – that is why getting enough vitamin D is always essential for your body.
This nutrient helps red blood cells transport oxygen to your cells. If you have low levels of iron, your body won't produce enough haemoglobin. As a result, enough oxygen won't be delivered to your scalp and follicles. Researchers from the Seoul National University College of Medicine found a link between women's hair loss and iron deficiency. The study revealed that premenopausal women with iron deficiency were especially prone to developing symptoms of alopecia.
Zinc is responsible for new tissue growth, cell reproduction and protein synthesis. In general, zinc is not considered to be a primary nutrient for hair growth treatment. However, several studies suggest that zinc deficiency is a risk of developing hair loss symptoms, and zinc supplementation in alopecia areata patients with deficiency showed positive results.
Do regular checkups
All in all, to determine what exactly causes your hair loss symptoms, it is essential to get a comprehensive blood test that will look into parameters such as microelements, amino acids, vitamins, thyroid hormones, metabolism and markers of infections. Don't forget that all functions in our bodies are interconnected in one way or another – that is why it is important to keep an optimal level of nutrients in the blood to ensure all body functions work properly and support one another.