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Nutritional Causes of Hair Loss

October 29, 2021

 

There are many nutritional supplements on the market that claim to help with hair loss. Are they really beneficial?

 

Deficiencies in certain macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) can indeed cause or contribute to increased hair loss. These nutrients play essential roles in the hair cells which grow and divide rapidly. Let us look at some of the important nutrients involved in hair loss.

 

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  • Sudden weight loss or energy restriction – Studies have shown that some people experienced increased hair shedding 2 to 5 months after starting a strict dieting program and/or losing a significant amount of weight. It is thought to be due to an inadequate supply of energy and other essential nutrients to the hair follicle cells, thus precipitating shedding of hair.

    If you are thinking of starting a weight reduction program, it is important to consult a health professional in order to achieve sustained weight loss and at the same time avoid malnutrition which can exacerbate hair loss.

 

  • Protein – Hair is made up of protein, therefore it is important to get sufficient protein in our diet to support healthy hair growth. If you are vegetarian or vegan, do eat a varied source of vegetarian proteins to ensure that you have sufficient intake of the different types of amino acids.

 

  • Vitamin D – Studies have shown that for people with vitamin D deficiency, supplementing with vitamin D improves symptoms of various types of hair loss including male and female pattern hair loss, telogen effluvium, and alopecia areata. 

 

  • Iron – Iron deficiency anaemia is also a common contributor of hair loss in women. It is recommended to check your iron levels including serum ferritin (iron-binding protein), and to replace iron if your iron stores are low. It is also important to have sufficient vitamin C intake, which helps with iron absorption.

 

  • Vitamin B, folate, and zinc are important for normal cell growth and function. Low levels of these vitamins are known to cause hair, skin, and nail changes. They may also be involved in premature hair graying in early adulthood.

 

If you suffer from hair loss, it is recommended to do a simple blood test to check for the levels of these vitamins and minerals. If the levels are low, targeted supplementation can help to improve the health of your hair.

 

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