Poor nutrition is an often overlooked contributory factor to some types of alopecia. Hair is mostly composed of a protein product called keratin, so the amino acid and B-vitamin building blocks are absolute requirements for healthy hair. Reduced intake of these nutrients can occur obscurely without catching your attention or due to increased dietary requirements when the body is experiencing short term or long term stress. The good news is that once you are aware that this may be a contributing factor, it is often simply corrected by making small adjustments to your diet.
There are several diet related conditions that can cause problems with hair loss.
- Fad Diets – Many of the latest trends in the diet industry do not take into consideration the need for well-balanced nutrition. The problem with these popular diets is that many people that follow them aren’t careful enough in making sure that their bodies are getting adequate nutrition, especially when the fad diet involves calorie restriction. One recent example is the HCG diet program associated with the ingestion of 500 calories per day. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies that can cause the hair follicles to fall out, and make it difficult for new hair to regrow to replace hair that has been shed naturally, or due to a vitamin or nutrient deficiency. This hair shedding usually shows up about two to four months after the body becomes stressed by the dietary deficiencies.
- Crash Diets – Crash diets are another example. Generally they are extreme and intended to be used only for a short period of time, and some of these diets don’t take careful nutrition into account. When these diets are followed, especially if they are continued for longer than they are meant to be, they can cause problems with hair and skin that can lead to alopecia and scalp disease. Rapid weight loss with low protein diets is one of the conditions that can lead to telogen effluvium. If you have recently begun one of these crash diets and are experiencing hair loss, you should make sure to let your physician know. Proper nourishment should cause the shedding to stop but it can take for normal hair growth can take
- Eating Disorders – Hair loss can also be one of the symptoms of eating disorders, particularly anorexia nervosa. These disorders are more likely to affect women than men, and those that deal with an eating disorder may also experience hair loss as a symptom. Treating the disorder will help your body to absorb the nutrients it needs to grow healthy hair again.
- Nutrient Deficiency – Vitamins and nutrients are essential for the healthy growth of new hair. When some of these essential components, especially iron, are missing from the body, you may experience hair loss. It may help your dermatologist or other skin care professional may to know what you have eaten in the past few weeks, so consider keeping a food journal that you can show him or her when you discuss the problems that might be leading to your hair loss. Individuals whose diets contain little or no red meat or leafy green vegetables may have an iron deficiency that can contribute to hair loss. Zinc deficiency can also be associated with hair loss.
For these and any other nutrition related causes of hair loss, adjustments in the diet such can be made to balance the amounts of vitamins and nutrients that enable the hair to grow healthy and naturally. If you suspect that your hair loss may be caused by poor diet conditions, consider taking the following steps and monitoring your hair loss for improvement.
- Keep a diet diary, including everything that you eat and drink for one week.
- Choose foods that are rich in vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin fortified products, whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables, including colorful fruits and leafy green vegetables.
- Vitamin preparations containing amino acids and B-vitamins as well as Biotin use the building blocks for protein to make hair healthier and stronger.
- Visit your regular health care provider, dermatologist, or hair loss specialist if you suspect that your hair loss may be diet related.
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