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Thinning Hair? Check Your Diet
Your cat died last year. But you're still finding hair everywhere, except on your head. While a certain amount of hair loss everyday is normal — we usually shed off about 50 to a 100 hair each day — you may want to find out what causes this shedding if you happen to shed more than average.
There are many causes for excessive hair loss. Possible causes include stress and anxiety, hormonal problems, fungal infections, medicines (blood thinners, excessive intake of vitamin A, birth control pills and antidepressants), and a mineral or vitamin deficiency.
When a mineral or vitamin deficiency is at the root of your hair loss, you simply need to correct the deficiency. Maybe it's the result of improper digestion, or perhaps you're not absorbing the necessary vitamins and minerals as well as you need to.
One of the most common causes of hair loss in pre-menopausal women is not hormones, but a nutritional deficiency, with depleted iron stores being the most important factor. Iron deficiency is less common in men and postmenopausal women than in women of childbearing age.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study, carried out over eight years by French researchers, tested the impact of a daily dose of antioxidants on 13,000 healthy subjects, including 7,886 women, and allowed researchers to provide conclusive evidence that iron deficiency and iron depletion are factors in hair loss.
Data from 3,759 pre-menopausal women showed that 48 percent suffered from iron deficiency or iron depletion. Among post-menopausal women only 23 percent had lower than normal levels of ferritin because iron loss is often due to menstruation and pregnancy.
Researchers cross-referenced data concerning hair loss and iron reserves, as measured by the amount of ferritin in the blood. They were able to show that pre-menopausal women in the 'severe hair loss' category had significantly lower iron reserves than women who did not suffer from excessive hair loss.
Foods rich in iron include liver, kidney, mussels, oysters, lean beef, lentils, beans, spinach, prunes, and raisins. Note that you shouldn't take iron supplements without having your iron saturation and ferritin levels tested first. Too much iron in the body, called iron overload, can damage a number of organs including the heart, liver and pancreas, and cause hair loss.
Some vegetarians, people who go on crash diets that exclude protein, and those with severely abnormal eating habits, may develop protein malnutrition. When this happens, a person's body will help to save protein by shifting growing hairs into the resting phase. Massive hair shedding can occur two to three months later. Hair can then be pulled out by the roots. This condition can be reversed by eating the proper amount of protein.
European studies have found that soy protein reinforces hair and stimulates its growth. In one study, the hair growth increased by 15 percent. Tofu and soy milk are good sources of soy protein. Other good sources of protein are low-fat cheese, eggs, fish, beans, brewer's yeast and yogurt.
Silica translates to collagen by the body and is found in hair, muscles and nails.
The chief symptom of silicon deficiency is sensitiveness to cold — one always feels cold even in the hot months. Other symptoms include aging of the skin e.g. looseness and wrinkles, loss of hair accompanied by thinning, poor bone development, and brittle nails.
Silica is found in the outer coverings of potatoes, green and red peppers, cucumbers, and bean sprouts. Other good food sources of silica include apples, oranges, tomatoes, cherries, raisins, almonds, peanuts, raw cabbage, onions, carrots, pumpkin, fish, honey, oats, unrefined grains/cereals with high fiber content, nuts and seeds.
Studies in the former Soviet Union have shown that silica therapy slowed hair loss. Organic silica added to shampoo was found to help prevent baldness, stimulate healthier hair growth and assure beautiful shine, luster and strength.
Deficiency in zinc can contribute a lot to hair shedding because without zinc and other related minerals, you hair shafts get weakened, causing hair breakage and very slow hair regrowth. Zinc benefits for hair include promotion of cell reproduction, tissue growth and repair of broken tissues. It also maintains the oil-secreting glands that are attached to your hair follicles, thus decreasing their chances of falling off.
There are various zinc supplements now available in the market. They are usually used to counter zinc deficiencies, but one of the secondary uses of zinc supplement is to fight hair thinning and hair loss. Usually, zinc gluconate at a dose level of 50 or 60 milligrams per day for two weeks is recommended.
Yet, a stack of studies show that popping too many zinc tablets could trigger hair loss. The RDA of zinc is only about 11 milligrams. To counter hair loss, a dosage of 60 milligrams is effective. Taking too much or taking zinc supplements longer than recommended (more than three or four weeks) would do more harm than good to your hair. This is very probable because too much zinc in the body can hinder the absorption of other minerals that take part in maintaining healthy hair.
Hair loss occurs when the diet is inadequate in the B vitamins — especially B6, biotin, inositol and folic acid.
Biotin is a B vitamin and is present in foods like eggs and liver. Biotin is a major component in the natural hair manufacturing process; it is essential to not only grow new hair, but it also plays a major role in the overall health of skin and nails.
However, it would take a huge amount of eggs and liver to provide you with the 5 milligrams of biotin that you would need for healthy hair and nails. A biotin supplement can provide your body with the necessary amount of biotin it needs to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss without additional calories and without having to eat liver.
"Dipping below 1,000 calories a day deprives your body of the energy and nutrients it needs to regenerate your hair cells," says Cindy Moore, director of nutrition therapy at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio.
Eat small, regular meals and never drop below 1,800 calories a day. "A crash diet doesn't shed fat," Moore points out. Instead, it strips your scalp and muscle.
If you continue the crash dieting routine for a period of time, it might take long before you see your hair grow again. In terms of distributing vital nutrients and oxygen, your body places the least importance to your hair follicles because it's not an essential organ that keeps you alive. Your other organs, like your liver and kidneys, which are the most affected by crash dieting, will be placed first. So, your hair loss can continue for months or even years to come after you had stopped your extreme dieting plan.
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