Women are brought up to believe that hair is their crowning glory, so when it starts to fall out at an alarming rate we can often panic. There are many reasons for why hair falls out and some are quite complex. However there are some key nutritional deficiencies that can lead to the loss of our lovely locks and we can fix this problem ourselves.
It is quite normal to lose hair every day; in fact the average woman loses between 50 and 100 strands per day! We can also lose more at certain times of the year. For instance late summer is a common time to shed a little extra hair. If it looks like you are losing a lot more than normal or your hair is starting to look at little thin you may want to explore nutritional deficiencies as a cause.
This is a common deficiency in menstruating women, which can lead to hair loss. Low iron can also occur in pregnancy, in women who are training hard and those who eat little or no animal products. Other signs that you might be deficient in iron include fatigue, muscle weakness, feeling light headed, poor memory, breathlessness, brittle nails and cracks in the corners of the mouth. You might also be looking a little pale. If any of these signs ring true for you go visit your GP and get your ferritin (stored iron) tested.
This vitamin is key for DNA replication, creating red blood cells and building new structures and in this way can affect hair loss. Its deficiency signs are very similar to those of iron, so if you are testing your ferritin levels you might also like to check your B12 at the same time. Vegans and vegetarians are one group at risk from B12 deficiencies, but also our B12 levels decrease with age. Women with digestive disorders and those who have been on stomach acid reducing medications long term may also be more likely to have low B12.
This is a nutrient where deficiency is on the increase and can low levels can lead to hair loss. Vitamin D levels are diminishing in New Zealand in women who are protecting their skin with sun cream. This is because one of the key sources of Vitamin D is absorption via sunlight on the skin, so by protecting our skin from harmful UV rays we are losing this nutrient. Vitamin D stimulates hair growth via follicular growth for growing strong hair. Vitamin D deficiency signs are quite subtle like bone pain, so you may just need to assess how much time you are spending in the sun without sun cream and increase you vitamin D foods through sources like oily fish.
This mineral is important for hair in a number of different ways. Zinc is needed to utilize proteins to build hair and start hair growing. It is also important for hormones that can affect hair loss, so low zinc is often associated with excessive hair loss. If you are wondering if you are low in zinc other deficiency signs include stretch marks, white spots on the nails, mouth ulcers, poor wound healing, immunity, appetite, sense of taste and smell.
Iodine and selenium
Iodine and selenium are nutrients which are low in NZ soil and their deficiency in the body can result in poor thyroid function. This is because they are essential for the production of thyroid hormones and women are at greater risk of low thyroid function. Hair loss is a common symptom of low one of the results of this condition. If you are wondering if you have low thyroid function other signs include weight gain or the inability to lose weight, feeling the cold more than others, constant fatigue, low mood and constipation. If these signs and symptoms sound like you then go to see you GP and ask to have your thyroid hormones tested.