Vitamins and minerals are nutrients your body needs in small amounts to work properly and stay healthy, and this includes hair health. Some types of hair loss, such as male and female pattern baldness, are genetic or permanent, while others are temporary and caused by things like illness, stress, weight loss and deficiencies. If you think deficiency could be at the root of your hair loss, this is easily resolved. Express.co.uk chatted to Anabel Kingsley, Trichologist and owner of Philip Kingsley to find out which deficiencies could be causing your hair loss.
Our hair’s growth and strength are largely reliant on diet, according to Trichologist Anabel Kingsley.
The Philip Kingsley brand owner said: “Being a non-essential tissue, hair is the last part of us to receive nutrients we intake, and the first to be withheld from when our diet is lacking.
“Vitamin, mineral and energy deficiencies are very common causes of hair loss in women.
“Even a small deficiency, or levels that fall towards the lower end of the normal blood reference range, can cause hair loss long before they impact your general health.”
So, which dietary deficiencies are normally responsible for hair loss?
Ferritin is a protein in your body that stores iron, and adequate ferritin levels are needed to produce the protein your hair is made of.
Ferritin deficiency is one of the most common causes of hair loss we see in women of menstruating age.
Anabel said: “While ferritin deficiency can cause diffuse hair shedding (i.e. hair loss from all over the scalp), it often affects the sides and temples the most, resulting in the growth of fine, wispy hairs to these areas that seem not to grow.
“To maintain good ferritin levels, regularly eat iron-rich foods, such as red meat, dried apricots, dark, leafy greens and beetroot.
“If you have low ferritin levels, you will need a supplement containing Iron, Vitamin C (helps with iron absorption) and L-Lysine (helps with iron storage).
“I recommend our Tricho Complex multi-vitamin and mineral supplement.”
Zinc deficiency is pretty rare and more commonly seen in vegans and vegetarians, in people with IBD (inflammatory Bowel Disease) and in the post-partum period.
This deficiency almost always causes hair loss, but it will resolve once your levels are corrected.
If you have a true zinc deficiency, your doctor will recommend a supplement.
Anabel added: “To help maintain healthy zinc levels, eat foods such as oysters, dark meat, eggs and fortified cereals.
“Certain grains also contain a good amount of zinc, but these should be soaked to make the zinc more bioavailable – phytic acid, which is found in many grains, inhibits both zinc and iron bioavailability (your body’s ability to digest and absorb the nutrient).”
Complex Carbohydrates (i.e. calories/energy)
Hair cells are the second fastest-growing cells your body makes, meaning they have high energy requirements.
Anabel said: “As hair is very needy but essentially not needed, hair shedding commonly occurs when you are not eating foods containing easily accessible energy (like complex carbohydrates).
“Alongside a protein, have a portion of a complex carb at breakfast and lunch.
“Great options are whole grains, brown rice and pasta, potato with the skin on, sweet potato, farrow, oats, and couscous.”
Biotin is essential to hair growth, but biotin deficiency is incredibly rare.
If you are losing your hair it is very unlikely to be due to a biotin deficiency and taking a supplement containing it likely won’t help if you’re experiencing excessive hair shedding.
Anabel said: “I’ve only seen a handful of cases of biotin deficiency causing hair loss in my career.
“That said, people do report that the strength of their hair and nails improve when they take a biotin supplement.”
Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies in both women and men – especially during the winter when we are exposed to less sun.
Vitamin D plays an important role in healthy hair growth cycling as every hair follicle contains a Vitamin D receptor. It is also vital for immune and skin (i.e. scalp) health, Anabel said.
The trichologist added: “Low Vitamin D levels have also been linked to Alopecia Areata (an autoimmune condition that causes patchy hair loss).
“You can only obtain 10 percent of vitamin D through foods, so it is often worthwhile taking a Vitamin D3 supplement. Ask your doctor what the right dose is for you.”
Vitamin B12 deficiency is another common deficiency that can cause hair loss.
Anabel said: “It is naturally only found in animal products, so if you are a vegan or vegetarian look for foods fortified with Vitamin B12 and take a supplement.”
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