Believe it or not, the vast majority of women will go through a period of significant hair loss at some point in their life. The two most common periods of hair loss are postpartum and during menopause but deficiency in certain nutrients, thyroid problems and lifestyle choices can also result in significant hair loss.
Regardless of the cause, this thinning of the hair often results in distress, low self-esteem and self-image issues, which can lead to a decreased quality of life.
So whether you are currently losing some extra hair, or just looking to get your locks in tip top shape, here are some tips on which nutrients could serve you best.
Cysteine, a non-essential amino acid, is a precursor of keratin, the protein involved in hair building. Rate of growth, hair density, hair diameter and hair specific protein synthesis are all dependent on cysteine. Essential amino acids such as methionine and lysine are responsible for hair shape and volume. A diet low on these amino acids leads to hair fragility, brittleness and hair loss. Good sources of these amino acids are all meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, quinoa, fish, seafood and Brazil nuts.
A deficiency in fatty acids in your diet can cause decreased hair hydration leading to hair loss. Studies have shown that omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in combination with antioxidant supplementation can improve hair density and minimize hair loss . Good sources of fatty acids are fish, flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds.
Vitamin C works as an antioxidant and is very important in maintaining healthy hair. Deficiency in vitamin D2 has been linked to hair loss and D3 is necessary in keeping the hair in healthy condition. As for B vitamins, folate is involved in stimulating the hair follicle cells, thus preventing hair loss and B5is important for proper hair growth. Interestingly, both too much and too little vitamin A from an animal products have been linked to hair loss, so stick to vitamin A from fruits and veggies, such as carrots, sweet potato and cantaloupe.
Zinc is essential for hair building; both zinc and iron deficiency can lead to decreases in hair growth and hair loss. Copper, on the other hand, has effects on hair formation and repair. Silicon helps in hair growth and is responsible for the shine. Good sources of dietary silica are oats, brown rice and raisins. Calcium plays a significant role in maintaining the hair integrity and is has been shown that calcium concentration in the hair of premenopausal women is dramatically decreased . Good sources of calcium are dairy products, collards and spinach. Good sources of zinc and iron are meat, poultry, seafood and nuts.
Flavonoids are the most common group of polyphenols and are the most abundant antioxidants in our diets. It is believe that flavonoids present in green tea can stimulate hair growth . Isoflavones and lignans are the main class of phytoestrogens, similar structure to estrogen, has been known to delay and relieve symptoms of menopause . Good sources of flavonoids are berries, and citrus fruits. A source of isoflavones is soy.
Excess simple sugars are one factor, which is strongly linked to excess hair loss. Carbohydrates such as vegetable, fruit and rice with low glycemic load should be included in your diet, as a diet rich in simple sugars can negatively influence the state of your hair.
Drink your water!!!!!!
Water is essential for hydration and should be consume on average of 1.5 liters a day. Water also contains many minerals important for hair maintenance and hair growth.
Most of these sources are found in a healthy balance diet; however, nutritional supplements can be added to ensure that your body is getting all the nutrients needed (this is especially true for vegetarians, vegans and people with certain food allergies). Finding the right nutritional balance for postpartum, premenopausal and menopausal women can prevent deficiency in ingredients essential for hair grow and maintenance.
As with everything, the key is balance!
- Le Floc’h, C., et al., Effect of a nutritional supplement on hair loss in women. J Cosmet Dermatol, 2015. 14(1): p. 76-82.
- Goluch-Koniuszy, Z.S., Nutrition of women with hair loss problem during the period of menopause. Prz Menopauzalny, 2016. 15(1): p. 56-61.
- Zink, A. and C. Traidl-Hoffmann, Green tea in dermatology–myths and facts. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges, 2015. 13(8): p. 768-75.
- Peeters, P.H., et al., Variations in plasma phytoestrogen concentrations in European adults. J Nutr, 2007. 137(5): p. 1294-300.