Ultimate advice for hair loss, from an expert nutritionist
There are around 100,000 hair follicles on your scalp and these follicles are the engine room of your hair growth, stimulated by hormones and nutrients. While density of hair varies from person to person, and it’s normal to shed some hair (like those loose strands caught in the shower drain), persistent hair loss and hair thinning for sustained periods can be a problem and upsetting.
What causes hair loss and hair thinning?
Hormonal changes, genetics, medical conditions, stress, lack of sleep, diet and ageing can affect your hair’s natural growth cycle and can all play a part in hair thinning and loss. You may be interested in reading what causes premature grey hair and if it can be reversed.
Heat styling tools can cause hair damage when used excessively, and hair products and a high frequency of hair washing and cuts can impact on hair wellness. Studies also suggest that diets low in Iron, Zinc, Copper, Selenium, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D can impact hair structure and growth, and are associated with hair thinning and loss. Learn more about key nutrients for healthy hair and the best foods for hair loss and thinning.
What's your diet missing? Create your free Diet Profile.
Although you can’t control certain factors like ageing and genetics, a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals can help stimulate hair growth and lead to glossy, healthy locks.
Does menopause cause hair loss?
Hormonal changes, such as through pregnancy, childbirth and menopause, can all impact on hair growth and regrowth. As we age, the scalp naturally loses 'collagen' and 'elastin', which disrupts the components of the scalp needed for hair growth, causing our hair to become weaker and less pigmented.
Hair loss is a common symptom of menopause - find out more about common symptoms of menopause from our nutritionists.
Menopausal hair loss and hair thinning are linked to a drop in levels of oestrogen and progesterone. Oestrogen increases the time that hair spends in the growing phase of the hair cycle, so lower levels of oestrogen during menopause means that hair (and other body tissues including skin) lose these protective effects and become much thinner.
Learn more about how menopause affects skin and hair health from expert nutritionists.
Best foods and nutrients for hair growth and repair?
The appearance and wellbeing of our hair, skin and nails can be a reflection of our overall health. Specific nutrients including protein, essential fatty acids and vitamins and minerals can play a major role in normal hair follicle development and cellular turnover, supporting hair growth and overall wellbeing. In short, a healthy, balanced diet is key for restoring and maintaining healthy hair.
Here are four of the most important nutrients to gain in your diet to support healthy hair growth.
1. Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids impact skin and scalp health by stimulating and nourishing hair follicles and sebaceous glands. While evidence is limited on their impact on hair growth and thickness, studies show a deficiency in Omega 3 fatty acids can contribute to hair loss.
Increasing your intake of Omega-3s can also improve circulation and reducing inflammation, which all play a part in hair growth. Learn more in 'Why Omega-3 is good for you' by our expert nutritionists.
Our Vegan Omega 3 supplement, with 1,000mg Omega oil, provides the optimal dosage of 300mg DHA and 150mg EPA per serving, improving and maintaining your brain, heart, skin and eye health.
Good food sources of Omega-3 include:
- If you eat fish, try oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and trout
- Chia and flax seeds, and flaxseed oil
- Rapeseed oil
- Walnuts and walnut oil
- Soybeans, including tofu and tempeh, and soybean oil
- If you eat animal products, try lean meats, chicken, fish and eggs.
- Plant food sources - tofu, soya mince, soya beans, peas, pulses, nuts and seeds and plant-based alternatives to yoghurt.
- Legumes - chickpeas, lentils, beans and peas also contain Zinc, Iron and Biotin which studies suggest are beneficial for the growth of normal, healthy hair.
- Nuts - cashews, almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts and peanuts are sources of protein and healthy fats, Biotin, Selenium, and Zinc which support healthy tissue development on the scalp and can help stimulate hair growth and prevent hair loss. Zinc is also important for nails, it is one of our five nutrition tips for healthy nails.
There are many sources of plant-based protein, contrary to popular belief.
Iron helps your body to produce haemoglobin, a protein in your red blood cells, that is essential for hair growth. If you are not getting enough Iron in your diet, or have Iron deficiency anaemia, you may experience excessive hair shedding.
However, the role of Iron in hair loss is still the subject of much debate but ensuring you get sufficient Iron intake may lead to restoring hair growth. Sources of Iron include red meat, fortified breakfast cereals, porridge oats, wholemeal bread, soya beans, baked beans, eggs, red lentils, nuts and seeds.
Our Gentle Iron (18mg) is combined with Vitamin C (80mg) which greatly improves your body’s absorption of Iron and supports your healthy immune system.
If you're uncertain if you should be supplementing with Iron, we recommend the article: Why is Iron so important, particularly for women?
4. B-complex vitamins
Ingredients to look out for in supplements and haircare products
Ingredients that support hair strength and overall health
In addition to natural ingredients including MSM, AnaGain, Saw palmetto, Folic Acid, Iron, here are three key ingredients in any hair products to look out for:
Horsetail contains high levels of silica - which has been shown to promote hair strength and thickness, reducing hair thinning, as well as Selenium and cysteine, which are known to stimulate hair growth. Horsetail is also known to produce hair follicles which regulate hair growth - making it suitable for men and women experiencing thinning hair.
Biotin (Vitamin B7)
There is strong evidence showing Biotin contributes to the maintenance of normal hair through the production of 'keratin', and can promote hair growth and strength. A deficiency of Biotin has been linked to alopecia, the medical term for hair loss. Opt for Biotin-enriched shampoos and conditions. For enrichment from the inside out, consider taking a supplement containing Biotin such as Hair Saviour or a high strength B-Vitamin complex such as UltraEnergy formula.
Zinc plays a vital role in hair tissue growth and repair and keeps the oil glands on the scalp functioning properly. Low levels of Zinc may contribute to hair loss.
You may also enjoy reading:
- Why is testosterone important for women?
- Does Rosemary Oil help hair growth?
- Is MSM good for hair growth and strength?
- Castor Oil for Hair: Benefits, Uses & Side Effects
- The hormone-hair connection: how hormones affect your hair
Want to hear more from our nutritionists? Sign up to our newsletter for expert tips and advice:
Wickett RR, Kossmann E, Barel A, Demeester N, Clarys P, Vanden Berghe D, Calomme M. Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on hair tensile strength and morphology in women with fine hair. Arch Dermatol Res. 2007 Dec;299(10):499-505. doi: 10.1007/s00403-007-0796-z. Epub 2007 Oct 25. PMID: 17960402.
Araújo LA, Addor F, Campos PM. Use of silicon for skin and hair care: an approach of chemical forms available and efficacy. An Bras Dermatol. 2016 May-Jun;91(3):331-5. doi: 10.1590/abd1806-4841.20163986. PMID: 27438201; PMCID: PMC4938278.
Westgate GE, Botchkareva NV, Tobin DJ. The biology of hair diversity. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2013 Aug;35(4):329-36. doi: 10.1111/ics.12041. Epub 2013 Mar 6. PMID: 23363384.
Ablon & Kogan (2018) “A Six-Month, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study Evaluating the Safety and Efficacy of a Nutraceutical Supplement for Promoting Hair Growth in Women With Self-Perceived Thinning Hair.”
Almohanna HM, Ahmed AA, Tsatalis JP, Tosti A. The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2019 Mar;9(1):51-70. doi: 10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6. Epub 2018 Dec 13. PMID: 30547302; PMCID: PMC6380979.
Ramos, P.M. and H.A. Miot, Female Pattern Hair Loss: a clinical and pathophysiological review. An Bras Dermatol, 2015. 90(4): p. 529-43.
Deloche, C., et al., Low iron stores: a risk factor for excessive hair loss in non-menopausal women. Eur J Dermatol, 2007. 17(6): p. 507-12.