Hair loss can be an unpleasant experience for many people. Most people want a full, healthy head of hair and dread balding, bald spots, and thinning hair.
Let’s face it, cosmetic health matters. Our skin, nails, and hair are seen by the world, and they play a role in our social interactions and how we relate to others.
So what causes hair loss? And is there anything you can do to stop hair loss and promote hair growth? First, we’ll go through the reasons that hair loss could be occurring and then we’ll show you the options you have to keep your hair healthy.
Common Causes of Hair Loss
1. Hypothyroidism (Your Thyroid Isn’t Working Up to Speed)
“Hypothyroidism is a common and well recognized cause of diffuse hair loss,” say researchers 1.
When the thyroid isn’t pumping out enough thyroid hormone, hair doesn’t grow as it should. The thyroid determines how fast the metabolic processes of the body take place, and hair is not excluded from the thyroid’s action because hair follicles have thyroid hormone receptors that affect growth 2.
For many people, their thyroids aren’t working up to speed. Thyroid experts suggest that environmental pollutants play a big role in dampening thyroid activity 3. So if you are experiencing hair loss, get your hormone levels checked.
2. Zinc Deficiency
A lack of the mineral zinc is associated with hair loss, and sometimes patients need to supplement with zinc in order for their thyroid medication to effectively promote hair growth 1. Also, zinc and the thyroid’s metabolism are interconnected, and there has been evidence that zinc supplementation can improve thyroid function 1.
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3. Lack of Blood Flow
Hair needs blood to grow! Blood carries many nutrients and hormones that hair needs to grow thick and long. One study showed that scalp massage increased hair thickness, and researchers thought that improved circulation to the scalp was responsible for this hair-promoting effect 4.
In a study conducted in 1989, researchers confirmed that early male baldness was associated with reduced blood flow to the scalp 5.
4. Too Much DHT Hormone
Androgenetic alopecia is the most common cause of hair loss. It is a genetic condition by which too much DHT, an especially potent form of testosterone, is made in the scalp. DHT causes the loss of hair by inhibiting hair growth and shortening the hair growth cycle so that more hair is shed than replaced 6.
This condition is very common. For instance, 25% of men have some form of balding by age 30, and 65% have some balding by age 60.
Researchers describe numerous cases of scientific literature that indicate stress may trigger hair loss 7. Research has indicated that activation of the stress response may cause the death of hair follicles and stop the replication of cells that generate the proteins that make up hair 7.
Numerous indications show that the immune system, when stirred into disorder by stress, can attack your hair and the cells that produce hair 7.
6. Too Much Vitamin A
This is a rarer cause, but if you are supplementing with vitamin A and getting too much, you could experience hair loss. Always be careful when supplementing with fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins A and E.
7. You Are Not Eating Enough Protein
This is rare in first world countries, but if you are on a very low protein diet, it could be diminishing your hair growth. Protein is necessary for hair synthesis.
8. Selenium Deficiency
Selenium is important for protecting hair from oxidative stress, and a selenium deficiency has been evidenced to cause hair loss 8. You can get this mineral from Brazil nuts, meats like turkey and chicken, and some beans.
9. Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is important for health in a variety of ways, and some evidence even shows that it impacts hair growth. Animal studies have shown hair loss due to vitamin D deficiency, as well as vitamin D activity and vitamin D receptors in hair 8.
10. Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress, caused by free radicals, can cause hair loss 8. If there are many potential causes of oxidative stress, it means that there are too many damaging free radicals for the antioxidants in your body to neutralize. Free radicals can damage your hair just like any other part of your body. A diet filled with colorful fruits and veggies along with whole grains and nuts provides the foundation for your body’s antioxidant defenses.
11. Birth Control Pills
These pills can hormonally interfere with hair growth and excessively activate DHT, exacerbating the most common cause of hair loss – androgenetic alopecia 9.
Alopecia areata refers your own hair follicles being attacked by your own immune system. A healthy immune system is not supposed to do this, but many factors can contribute to this dysfunction. Even nutrient deficiencies and environmental pollutants might play roles in triggering autoimmunity.
Is There Anything You Can Do to Stop Hair Loss?
Seeing more hair in your shower drain or on your hairbrush than on your head? Concerned about hair loss or thinning hair?
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