It is normal to lose 50 to 100 hairs a day. Beyond this, hair loss can result from general nutrient deficiency. One of the problems with nutrition and hair however is that we can’t programme nutrients to do what we want – and hair growth is not a priority so nutrients may be used up in other areas first.
B vitamins (especially B6, biotin and inositol) have all been found to be important in hair growth, so a heavy duty B complex is recommended. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they destroy B1 and other B vitamins. Other important nutrients are manganese, magnesium, silica, kelp and vitamins C and E.
Stress worsens hair loss. It can reduce scalp blood flow, in addition to interfering with digestion and absorption. If stress is a consideration support the adrenals with vitamins B5 and C or glandulars.
Healthy hair needs good circulation and blood supply. Standing on your head – to raise body over head will boost circulation to your scalp, but ONLY attempt this if you are very healthy and fit! A more practical approach is an Indian head massage — it increases blood flow and circulation in the scalp, helps transport minerals to the scalp and is wonderfully relaxing. Organic cider vinegar massaged into the scalp opens up the pores. If you are actually losing hair from the root (as opposed to brittle hair) then the cider vinegar can help unclog sebum glands that sometime block causing the follicle to die off as hair cannot get through.
Essential Fatty Acids promote healthy hair, and water obviously is vital to avoid dehydration. Filtered or bottled water is best – glass bottles preferable to plastic to avoid taking in plasticisers.
Thinning, dry hair can be a sign of protein deficiency. Increasing protein (possibly as protein shakes) can restore vitality and sometimes colour. But if protein intake is good, another possibility is low hydrochloric acid (HCl), which is needed to digest protein. If you’re low in HCl, proteins are not digested properly, so the minerals they contain are not released. Mineral deficiencies could also be due to absorption problems in the gut. A ‘leaky gut’ can result from food intolerances, so if you suspect poor digestion, consider a food intolerance test when other symptoms suggest this.
Zinc has, in some cases of alopecia, been found to restore bodily hair growth as well as on the scalp.
Iron is often suggested after a study attributed hair loss in non-menopausal women to lack of iron.
Keratin – the hair protein – is predominately sulphur – which is probably why biotin is so useful as this is also predominately sulphur. MSM may be helpful for the same reason.
High copper has been associated with hair loss especially in women on HRT or who have taken the Pill. Good liver health will help keep copper down. Mercury, lead and cadmium toxicity have also been associated with hair loss.
Hair loss can also be due to hormonal imbalance especially post-menopausally, or with polycystic ovary syndrome. (PCOS can lead to elevated testosterone and hair loss). Herbal medicine can help here — some PCOS clients have had good results from taking saw palmetto and agnus castus. Horsetail (a good source of silica) may also help, but a herbalist should be consulted if you wish to take herbs.
Hormone imbalances promote copper retention. A thyroid self-test may be useful as thyroid activity is reduced in the presence of high copper. Calcium and copper often rise together. The balance of copper and zinc together is a better guide to copper levels than copper alone. Smoking and high consumption of chocolate, white wine and coffee can tip it the wrong way. B3 and zinc are good antagonists to copper. Essential fatty acids also help hormonal balance.
So how do you assess you mineral status? Hair Mineral Analysis can provide a detailed mineral analysis, plus personalised supplement programme designed to address imbalances. Learn more about Hair Mineral Analysis and discover how to how check your levels of nutrient and toxic minerals on my website below.
Joy Healey is a qualified nutritionist who studied for three years at the prestigious London Institute For Optimum Nutrition, founded by Patrick Holford a leading authority on health and nutrition.
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