No one’s quite sure who first said, ‘You are what you eat!’ One thing everyone agrees on, though, is that whoever did say it was bang on the money; what we eat is essential to maintaining our general good health. It’s also vital in the battle to keep our hair in tip-top condition. In fact, a good diet undoubtedly plays a role in the battle to keep our hair…full stop.
While some causes of hair loss, such as family history, are beyond our control, we can give ourselves the best possible chance of holding on to our hair and keeping it healthy by taking control of our diet. Read on to discover what you need to do!
Hair Loss Causes
There are many reasons why people lose their hair or why it sometimes lacks vitality, shine and thickness. Damaging haircare routines, tight hairstyles, product build-up and illness can all sometimes be to blame. Failing to eat well is right there in the mix, too. Eating ‘well’ shouldn’t be confused with filling our stomach until it hurts. It means eating the right foods to ensure that our body gets the balance of nutrients it needs.
Failing to do so can have serious consequences for our hair. If our brain detects a nutritional imbalance or deficiency, it directs the available nutrients to the important organs of the body. As a result, hair follicles don’t receive what they need to sustain a healthy growth cycle. So, what exactly is it that the hair follicles need?
Research published by dermatologists in 2018 has shown that a lack of vitamins B12 and D can lead to hair loss. The same report also highlighted that increasing the amount of vitamin D in one’s diet can improve the symptoms of both androgenetic alopecia and telogen effluvium.
Vitamin D is found in oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines, as well as in red meat and eggs. Additionally, oily fish contains Omega-3 fatty acids which have been linked to hair growth. One study found that a six-month course of omega 3 and 6 supplements successfully reduced hair loss and improved hair density.
Iron deficiency is a common problem, particularly in women, and has been linked to telogen effluvium. The role of iron during the hair cycle is not entirely clear, but it is thought that iron deficiency may interrupt the hair cycle’s natural progression. You’ll get plenty of iron from red meat, chickpeas, red kidney beans and fortified breakfast cereals.
Zinc is another essential mineral that plays a part in protein synthesis and cell division. Zinc deficiency can lead to brittle hair and telogen effluvium. One study, undertaken by Korean researchers on over 300 people with diagnosed hair loss conditions, showed that all had lower zinc concentrations compared to a control group with healthy hair.
Foods rich in zinc include red meat, poultry, dairy products, beans, nuts, whole grains and breakfast cereals.
The importance of vitamins and minerals is that many, like zinc and vitamins A and E, have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are important for their ability to prevent oxidative damage. They combat free radicals and guard against scalp inflammation which can lead to hair loss. Leafy green foods like spinach, cabbage and lettuce are good sources of antioxidants.
It’s not just the vitamins and minerals in our diet that we need to keep an eye on. Biotin deficiency has also been linked to alopecia, particularly during times of stress. Riboflavin and protein deficiency are also closely associated with hair loss. Eggs are a rich source of both protein and biotin.
Talk of nutrient deficiency means that there is always the temptation to use food supplements like some kind of insurance policy. However, while food supplements can provide an effective way of tackling nutrient deficiency, you should never embark on a course without first seeking expert advice. That’s because an overload of certain vitamins and minerals can lead to toxicity and cause serious health problems. For example, while Vitamin A is vital for our cell growth, immune function and vision, excessive amounts of it can result in Vitamin A toxicity and lead to hair loss.
Eating a healthy diet is key to maintaining good health. That doesn’t mean one has to fixate on the individual vitamins and minerals contained in what you’re eating. Simply make sure that you’re getting a sensible balance of all the different food groups and avoid eating too many processed meals.
If you have concerns about your hair and would like some expert advice, get in touch with Vinci Hair Clinic. All our new clients get a no-obligation consultation absolutely free. It can take place in person at one of our many worldwide clinics or, if it suits you better, we can have a look at your hair on WhatsApp using photographs. All you have to do is get in touch and make the appointment!