Shedding New Light on Female Hair Loss
Cartoon images of a mother at midday with her hair frazzled or falling all around her is closer to reality than most moms would like to admit.
Although little is known about nutritional factors and hair loss, studies have revealed “hair shedding” is commonly linked to women and is associated with protein-energy malnutrition, hypothyroidism, starvation, eating disorders, stress and a form of Alopecia (balding, that needs to be under a physicians care).
Hair shedding in women is generally a reflection of the individual’s nutrition status. Several studies have examined the relationship between iron deficiency and hair loss. “We believe that treatment for hair loss is enhanced when iron deficiency, with or without anemia, is treated. Iron deficiency anemia should be treated,” according to the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Women with nutritional iron deficiency anemia should focus on taking in the recommended daily amount of iron in addition to iron supplements. But before taking iron supplements, women should consult a physician because “excessive iron supplementation can cause iron overload and should be avoided,” according to the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.
As recently as 40 years ago, researchers demonstrated the importance of iron supplements for women without anemia who were iron-deficient and had hair loss. Additionally, serum ferritin concentrations provide a good assessment of an individual’s iron status and seem to be a factor in female hair loss. Furthermore, the role of the essential amino acid l-lysine (protein) in hair loss also appears to be important. Double-blind data confirmed the findings of an open study in women with increased hair shedding, where a significant proportion of women responded to “l-lysine and iron therapy.” One should be warned that excessive intakes of nutritional supplements actually may cause hair loss and are not recommended in the absence of a proven deficiency.
The most effective way to get healthy hair is to have a healthy diet. Components of the hair follicle, hair shaft and scalp require certain foods that make hair healthy and strong. Studies show that by incorporating foods from the following groups in your day-to-day diet, you could notice a difference in your hair within a few weeks.
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is important for healthy hair:
- Water: One-fourth of the weight of a strand of hair is made up of water. Water makes your hair supple and soft. Therefore you should have enough water. Do not wait till you are thirsty to keep drinking water. If you are thirsty, it means that you have lost water and your body is asking you to replenish the loss. Water keeps your hair silky and shiny as well.
- Protein: A diet for healthy hair should be rich in protein because hair consists of primarily protein. Proteins will give your hair more strength and will prevent it from breaking and splitting. Eat protein rich foods like eggs (The Egg! A Complete Protein!), fish, meat, milk, cheese and cereals. For additional protein tips go to: Depressed? Food for Thought: Natural Mood Enhancers.
- Minerals: A variety of minerals are important for healthy hair. Iron carries oxygen to the hair. Insufficient iron will starve the hair follicles of oxygen. Include red meat and dark green vegetable in your diet as well as fresh vegetables, nuts and seeds.
- Vitamins: Vitamin A makes your scalp healthy and is good for your skin as well. Find vitamin A in orange fruits and vegetables. Vitamins B and C help with hair growth. Include these vitamins in your diet to avoid hair from splitting.
- Exercise: Along with a healthy diet, it is important that you exercise so that you have proper blood flow to your scalp, and exercise will help with hair growth.
- Protein is found in meat, fish, poultry, milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt and sunflower seeds, among other foods.
- Vitamin A is found in eggs, milk, carrots, tomatoes, oily fish, dark green leafy vegetables and apricots, among other foods.
- Vitamin B is found in milk, eggs, wholegrain cereals, bread, wheat germs, nuts, soy beans, poultry, fish and meat, among other foods.
- Vitamin D is found in sunlight, fish liver oils, oily fish, milk and eggs, among other foods.
- Vitamin C is found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables: blackcurrant, green peppers, citrus fruits, bananas, avocados, artichokes and leafy green vegetables, among other foods.
- Vitamin E is found in wheat germ, peanuts, vegetable oils and green leafy vegetables, among others.
- Iron is found in spinach, liver, lentils, beans, peas and dried fruit, among other foods.
- Calcium is found in cheese, nuts, eggs, milk, yogurt, sardines and root vegetables, among other foods.
- Iodine is found in seafood, iodized salt, among other foods.
- Sulphur is found in eggs, meat, cheese, dairy products, among other foods.
A mother with frazzled hair shown in a cartoon image will continue to get laughs, but with a bit of knowledge and a well balanced diet women can avoid the embarrassment of hair loss and begin to enjoy the laughter around us.
Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Location: The McAlpin
Model: Cornel TerreBlanche of New View Management Group, Inc.
Makeup Artistry: Trina Paul