Hair; we groom it, we cut it, we color it, we curl it, we straighten it. Hair is a large component of our self-expression and how we present ourselves to the world! So when we begin to experience increased hair loss, it can create some serious panic. Why is my hair falling out more rapidly? Will I be able to grow it back? Is the amount of hair I am losing normal?
Normal hair turnover or shedding is a function of your hair growth cycle. Anyone—women, children, men alike—who brushes, washes, or even runs fingers through his or her hair will notice some hair loss. The average person loses around 100 strands a day! So when does hair loss become too much?
There is no concrete answer to these questions as normal hair loss can be different for every individual. However, if you begin to notice an increased amount of loss, thinning, or brittle hair, this may be related to an underlying health condition. The good news is most reasons for hair loss are temporary or reversible once you are able to determine the cause and treat the underlying issue. The most common reasons for hair loss are related to a combination of hormonal imbalance, genetics, stress and nutritional deficiencies.
Nutritional Deficiencies Can Increase Hair Loss
Hair loss can be due to a lack of nutritional balance or a vitamin or element being deficient in your diet. Some key components include:
- Low levels of iron in your blood—or anemia—can be a huge reason for hair loss. You can ensure you are getting enough iron in your diet by including foods like spinach, pumpkin seeds, grass-fed lean red meat and beans.
- A lack of protein. Proteins are the building blocks of your cells and very important for hair growth. If you are not getting enough proteins or a good variety of proteins, you may notice increased hair loss. This can be particularly important for vegetarians or vegans, who are not eating animal proteins. Females should be getting at least 60 grams of protein per day and males at least 70 grams per day.
- There is also a variety of vitamins and minerals that are essential for your hair health. Vitamin E, Zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin A and B vitamins all play an important role in hair growth, repairing hair damage and maintaining thickness and shine. If you are deficient in even one of these nutrients, it can lead to a decrease in hair growth.
In general, eating a well-balanced whole foods diet high in essential proteins, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals should help reverse or avoid hair loss. If you are having increased hair loss or thinning and believe a nutritional deficiency might be the problem, please make an appointment to be fully evaluated. At CentreSpring MD, we take a comprehensive nutritional and holistic evaluation using both urine and blood to see what nutritional factors might be contributing to your hair loss.
Emotional or Physical Stress Impact on Hair Loss
Stress is a common cause for hair loss, whether it is severe physical stress like recovering from an illness, high fever, crash diets, major surgery or injury, or extreme emotional stress or anxiety. During these times, your body focuses on essential body functions and shuts down others, hair growth being one. You might not begin to notice the hair loss for almost 3-6 months after the major stressor.
The good news is that this type of hair loss is usually temporary. And, by eliminating or reducing the stressor, hair growth returns. To help with hair regrowth when recovering from an illness or injury, ensure you are getting a well-balanced diet high in protein to help your body rebuild. To help reduce emotional stressors which come with your everyday life, ensure you are spending time on yourself. Activities like Yoga, deep breathing, Pilates, acupuncture or massage can help decrease stress and in turn help with hair regrowth.
Hormonal Imbalance & Your Hair
Hormonal imbalances are probably the most common cause of hair loss in both men and women. Excess androgens, or more specifically testosterone, turnover to a hormone called DHT, which causes rapid hair turnover leading to the well-known “male patterned baldness.” Although more common in men, this can affect both men and women.
However, excess androgens are not the only hormonal imbalance that play a role in hair loss. Large hormonal shifts are another well-known cause. Hair loss can be common during or right after pregnancy and during menopause when hormones can drop rapidly. However, hormones can become unbalanced for many reasons and are all very connected to one another, so it is important to ensure all of your hormones are balanced so that they are not contributing to your hair loss. Other hormonal shifts that can lead to hair loss include:
- Low thyroid hormone
- Low progesterone
- High cortisol
- Excess estrogens
- Excess androgens (DHT)
- Low testosterone
- Insulin resistance
If you believe you have a hormonal imbalance causing your hair loss, please schedule an appointment to be fully evaluated. Here at the Centre, we complete a comprehensive look at all of your hormones to evaluate reasons for hair loss. Hormonal evaluations can be done through blood levels or through saliva testing. Hormonal imbalances are treated individually based on the hormone(s) involved and your symptoms. Imbalances can be treated with lifestyle changes, optimizing your diet, and/or with hormone replacement depending on your specific needs.
Unfortunately, there is no one-step, easy solution to stopping your hair loss. As you can see, the causes of hair loss can be very individual so it is important to work with your healthcare provider to get to the bottom of your hair loss. Make an appointment at the Centre today to discover you root cause (no pun intended)! In the meantime, focus on reducing or managing stress in your daily life and eating a well-balanced diet high in protein and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. This will help to prevent increased hair loss, promote hair growth and allow you to get back to styling your amazing hair!
To achieving your optimal health,
Christina Connors FNP-C