Hair loss can be distressing for some, and while it is normal to lose 50 to 100 hairs a day, anything more than that may be a sign of something that needs closer attention, for example, heavy metal toxicity or a hormonal imbalance - specifically estrogen dominance. There are multiple factors involved in hair loss, and may also be heredity or aging related.
Researchers have yet to determine the exact cause of hair loss, but some scientists believe the body’s immune system mistakes hair follicles for foreign tissue and attacks them. Many suspect a genetic component.
All women experience some hair thinning as they grow older, especially after menopause, but in some it begins as early as puberty. In addition, most women lose some hair two to three months after having a baby because hormonal changes prevent normal hair loss during pregnancy.
A species of tiny mite, Demodex follicularum, may be the cause of, or a contributing factor to, balding. These mites are present in virtually all hair follicles by the time a person reaches middle age, and in most cases cause no harm. Researchers believe that the difference between people who lose hair and those who do not may lie in how the scalp reacts to the presence of these mites. If the body initiates the inflammatory response as it tries to reject the mites, this may close down the hair follicles, thus killing the mites but also killing the hair.
In addition to the above, factors that promote hair loss include poor circulation, acute illness, surgery, radiation exposure, skin disease, sudden weight loss, high fever, iron deficiency, diabetes, thyroid disease, drugs such as those used in chemotherapy, stress, poor diet, ringworm and other fungal infections, stress, chemicals such as hair dyes and vitamin deficiencies.
While some factors may be out of your hands, there are many things one can do to lessen hair loss and improve hair growth.
A diet which is inadequate, especially in the vitamins and minerals that are very necessary for hair growth, is one of the major reasons behind pre-mature thinning or loss of hair. There are a few foods that are essential for healthy hair because they contain certain nutrients that prevent hair loss and stimulate hair growth.
Probably the most important of these nutrients is biotin, a form of vitamin B. It is often recommended for chemotherapy patients to help increase the rate of growth. It is also useful for thinning hair. Besides this, biotin is very beneficial for the skin too. Good food sources of biotin include brown rice, bulgur, green peas, lentils, oats, soybeans, sunflower seeds and walnuts.
Foods rich in folic acid should also be part of one’s daily diet. Folic acid helps in the formation of the red blood cells and is also very important for maintaining the health of the central nervous system. It also helps in replacing the old cells of the body with new cells, which makes it important for the growth and development of the various cells, organs, tissues and structures in the body, including the hair. Foods rich in folic acid are green leafy vegetables, liver, rice, kidney beans, and soybeans.
It stands to reason that any nutrients that support the immune system, free the body up to provide nutrients needed by the hair. Therefore antioxidant vitamins, such as C and E, are also an important source of nutrition for vibrant, abundant hair growth. They help promote healthy connective tissues and cellular growth as well as enhance immunity and improve circulation to the scalp. Foods rich in vitamin C are oranges, guava, lemon, strawberry, raspberry, grapefruit, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes and cabbage. Foods rich in vitamin E are vegetable and nut oils, sunflower seeds, whole grains, wheat germ, spinach, avocados, berries.
Zinc and magnesium also support the immune system and promote hair growth. Foods rich in zinc are wheat bran, shellfish, oysters and pine nuts. Foods rich in magnesium are green vegetables such as spinach, beans, peas, seeds, nuts and whole grain.
If you have a problem of falling or thinning hair then besides eating the foods rich in all the above, it would help to take a supplement such as Hair, Skin and Nails which contains 1000mcg biotin, 400mcg folic acid as well as vitamins E and C and Horsetail, a herb packed with silica that strengthens bones, nails and hair. One would only need to take 1 of these capsules daily but for a minimum of 3 months to achieve results.
There are studies that have shown a strikingly increased risk of insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, and insulin-resistance-associated disorders in men with early onset of male-pattern baldness (alopecia), supporting the theory that early male-pattern baldness could be a clinical marker of insulin resistance. It is therefore important to keep blood sugar levels stable, and avoid high glycaemic, refined foods, such as white bread and sugar.
Essential fatty acids
Vitamin C – 1000mg per day
Ginkgo biloba – improves circulation to the scalp
Spirulina or barley green or alfalfa or seaweed or wheat grass
Both Biotin and vitamin B12 essential to combat hair loss
Tea tree oil combats bacteria and mites that may cause hair loss. Massage 10 drops into the scalp, then shampoo your hair in the usual fashion.
Include fermented soy foods such as tempeh and miso in your diet. Soy foods appear to inhibit the formation of dihydrotestosterone, a hormone implicated in the process of hair loss.
Do not eat food containing raw eggs. Raw eggs not only pose a risk of Salmonella infection, but are high in avidin, a protein that binds biotin and prevents it from being absorbed. Cooked eggs are acceptable.
Lie head down on a slant board fifteen minutes a day to allow the blood to reach your scalp. Massage your scalp daily.
Use shampoos and conditioners that contain biotin and silica. Aloe vera gel, vitamins C and E, and jojoba oils are also very good for the hair. Conditioners containing chamomile, marigold, ginseng and/or passionflower help to keep hair healthy as well.
Be careful of using products that are not natural on the hair. Allergic reactions to chemicals in these products occur frequently. Alternate among several different hair care products, using only all-natural and pH-balanced formulas.
Avoid crash diets and diets that neglect any of the food groups. These can cause deficiencies in nutrients that are detrimental to the hair.
Taking large doses of vitamin A (100,000 IU or more daily) for a long period can trigger hair loss, but stopping the vitamin A will reverse the problem. Often the hair grows back when the cause is corrected.
Pregnancy, a high concentration of metals in the body, and auto-immune disease can sometimes cause hair loss.
Hypothyroidism can cause hair loss.
Hairloss clearly need not be a permanent fixture in your life. Discovering the underlying cause, whlie supporting your immune system is a great way to optimise your hair growth and minimise the loss.