Best foods for hair loss & thinning
Hair loss can be caused by so many factors, from different hormones in men and women to stress, diet and nutrient deficiencies and autoimmune diseases. And hair loss can be hereditary. Our nutritionists explain what causes hair loss and hair thinning, and the best foods and nutrients to support your hair against thinning and falling out.
What causes hair loss?
Immune conditions, medications, hormones and stress can all cause hair loss, and it can be hereditary. Here are 5 of the most common reasons for hair loss.
This is the most common cause of hair loss and occurs with age, and is often called 'male-pattern baldness' or 'female-pattern baldness'. Although these forms are hereditary, they are often due to a change in hormones as we age.
Stress is a less well known but very common cause of hair loss. This type of hair loss typically occurs after a traumatic event or stressful period in people's lives, and can last several months. Once the stress or trauma has been dealt with, hair will normally grow back. If you're suffering anxiety or stress, your diet can help - learn more in 'Foods and vitamins to relieve anxiety'. You can also try Stay Calm, formulated to relieve anxiety and stress, bringing a natural sense of calm, balance, focus and energy.
Hormonal changes after the menopause, during childbirth, and as a result of thyroid conditions can cause excessive hair loss. Issues with the thyroid often also cause a loss of eyebrows. Find out more in 'Best foods for thyroid health'.
For women, the decrease in female sex hormones after the menopause increases the ratio of testosterone to female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, which can trigger hair loss and hair thinning.
During pregnancy, the increase in progesterone causes the body to hold onto hairs longer. When progesterone levels drop after childbirth, all the hairs that would have normally fallen out during the pregnancy then fall out, making it look like you have excessive hair loss, but generally it is the hair state returning to 'normal'.
Some medications can interrupt the hair growth cycle, leading to baldness or hair thinning. The most well known medications for causing hair loss are chemotherapy drugs, however other medications can also cause hair loss or thinning. These include some blood thinning medications ('anticoagulants'), cholesterol lowering medications, blood pressure medications, and others.
5. Immune conditions
Some autoimmune conditions against the skin and hair follicles can cause hair loss. The most common condition is called 'autoimmune alopecia'. Those with autoimmune conditions are also at a higher risk of developing diabetes - learn more in '10 symptoms of diabetes to look out for'.
What causes hair thinning?
There are two main causes of hair thinning:
Testosterone in both men and women can contribute towards hair thinning. There are a number of different forms of testosterone in the body, and the form most likely to affect hair thinning is called 'Dihydrotestosterone', commonly referred to as 'DHT'.
DHT is a derivative of testosterone and is mainly produced in the testes and prostate of men, and in the ovaries of women. DHT interferes with hair growth in both men and women - our hair follicles are sensitive to DHT, leading to shrinking or shortening of hair, making it more likely to fall out and more difficult to grow back.
2. Nutrient deficiencies
Deficiencies in key nutrients including Iron, B Vitamins and Protein can contribute towards hair thinning. If your body does not have enough nutrients to run itself, your hair is one of the first things to be sacrificed! Learn more in '5 key nutrients for healthy hair'.
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Who is most likely to suffer hair loss & thinning?
Some groups of people are more likely than others to experience hair loss and hair thinning.
Ageing comes to us all and as we grow older, there's a greater likelihood of losing hair or hair thinning. This can be due to a number of reasons, including a decline in the blood flow to the scalp, an increase in DHT, and nutrient deficiencies that build up over time that also contribute towards hair loss and thinning.
The drop in female hormones during peri-menopause, menopause and post-menopause increases the ratio of testosterone in women in relation to the female sex hormones. This change and the fluctuations in the hormones themselves can contribute towards hair thinning and poor hair growth.
Due to the naturally higher testosterone levels in men, there is a much higher chance of men having more DHT which leads to hair loss.
Consuming the right foods with the right nutrients is essential for preserving your hair and for hair growth - it really does help! Likewise, those with a poor diet, poor gut health, or conditions leading to poor nutrient absorption, are more prone to hair loss and thinning. Learn more in '6 signs of an unhealthy gut'.
Specialist hair supplements can also help. Discover Hair Saviour®, with clinically studied ingredients for hair growth, strong hair, and healthy, lustrous hair.
Hair loss in men and women
Although the causes of hair loss are similar in men and women, they do manifest themselves differently. Men tend to lose hair in central patches, while women tend to lose their hair evenly across the scalp.
Can you stop hair loss?
Yes! There are several ways to encourage the growth and thickness of hair, even in previously bald patches. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is alway the best place to start. Exercise should be incorporated into your daily routine because it increases blood flow to all parts of the body, including your scalp. The improved blood flow transports more nutrients to the hair follicles for better growth. Avoiding stress is also an essential lifestyle change for better hair growth, because stress has been shown to negatively impact hair growth.
4 best foods for hair loss
The are a number of super-foods that can really support the strength and health of your hair.
1. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkins seeds contain good levels of zinc which helps to decrease the conversion of testosterone into its toxic form that affects the hair follicles. Zinc also balances female hormones in women which promotes fuller and healthier hair growth. Zinc is also needed directly for the cellular growth of new hair, and if you're deficient in zinc, hair growth can be impaired.
Try our delicious roasted pumpkin seed recipe.
While tofu is well known for providing lots of protein, which is essential to the growth of new hair, the amino acids in tofu contribute towards the production of collagen. Collagen helps maintain the health of blood vessels and therefore blood circulation and the supply of nutrients to the scalp and hair follicles. Find out more in 'The truth about collagen'.
Wholegrains contain biotin which is needed for a few reasons. One of the most important uses of biotin in our bodies is the utilisation of protein within our body's cells that is necessary for hair growth.
Kiwis contain high levels of Vitamin C which is vital for the production of collagen, essential for the health of blood vessels and nutrient transportation to the scalp which encourages healthy hair growth. Vitamin C from Kiwis is also one of the best nutrients for healthy, glowing skin.
Best vitamins for hair loss and thinning
Here are some of the best nutrients to look out for to support healthy hair growth, thicker and stronger hair.
MSM is a naturally occurring chemical in plants and humans and one of its major components is sulfur, which is vital for the production of amino acids. Amino acids give our hair moisture and strength and help our hair repair itself, and they also support the formation of cells and bonds in our hair follicles.
AnaGain™, which is produced from organic pea sprouts, stimulates specific signal molecules in the 'dermal papilla' which reactivate hair growth. In one clinical study involving AnaGain™, the proportion of active hair follicles to degenerating ones could be improved by 78% in 3 months.
Used for thousands of years as a herbal remedy, this herbaceous perennial plant is rich in silicon which as well as helping strengthen our bones, has been extensively studied for improving the beauty and appearance of hair.
A type of palm, Saw Palmetto is commonly used to improve men's prostate health, help balance hormone levels, and is increasingly studied for preventing hair loss. Some studies show Saw palmetto helps block the production of DHT which, as shown above, is linked to hair loss, and reduces hair loss by reducing the intake of DHT in hair follicles.
B vitamins are needed for hair growth as they are biologically important for the replication of fast-growing cells. Biotin, which is found in a B complex supplement, is especially important and numerous studies have linked biotin to better hair growth. B vitamins are also needed for the proper blood circulation to the scalp and hair follicles. Shop our high strength B Vitamin Complex, UltraEnergy, for sustained energy.
In addition to being involved in the synthesis of hair proteins, Vitamin C helps to combat free-radical damage which can otherwise hinder the blood supply to the scalp and hair follicles, and slow down hair growth.
Vitamin A is needed for the production of 'sebum' which helps to keep the scalp and hair healthy. When taken in the right amounts, Vitamin A also helps with the replication of fast-growing cells, including hair cells.
Vitamin D is an immune regulator and should be taken by individuals who have conditions related to the immune system. This includes conditions such as autoimmune alopecia and dermatitis on the scalp.
Learn more in 'How do I know if I'm deficient in Vitamin D?'.
Vitamin E also helps to protect against oxidative damage to the hair follicles and the blood vessels that supply them with nutrients. One study demonstrated that Vitamin E supplementation can significantly improve the rate of hair growth.
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