Thinning hair and baldness are often genetic, so doctors rarely offer solutions aside from expensive surgical fixes or medications with limited effectiveness and tons of side effects. However, nutritionists working with patients after weightloss surgery have found a link between certain deficiencies and hair loss. Discover which foods could help you stop or possibly even reverse the march of your receding hairline.
When patients come in complaining of alopecia, the medical term for hair loss, most doctors will check for anemia. Insufficient stores of iron can cause follicle cells to stop dividing. Meat and fish are the best sources of the mineral, and vegans and vegetarians have a higher risk of developing baldness because the iron found in plants is harder to digest. If your bloodwork shows that you need additional iron, turn to legumes like lentils, tofu, and lima beans if you want to avoid eating meat.
While many people remember to take zinc with them to the beach as a cream to protect their skin, fewer are aware of its vital role in protein regulation. When you don’t produce enough zinc, your body has a hard time producing keratin, the main ingredient in hair. Studies have shown that patients with male pattern hair loss have lower amounts of zinc than control subjects with healthy hair growth. Along with iron, animal flesh also contains higher concentrations of this mineral. Vegans and vegetarians should consider oats, nuts, and wheat germ for an extra boost.
Growing awareness of the dangers of excessive sun-bathing and the switch from agricultural employment to office work has made Vitamin D deficiencies more common. This vitamin is available both in food, and as a byproduct of exposure to ultraviolet light. For centuries, medical professionals have understood the connection between low Vitamin D concentrations and poor bone strength. A 2013 report also connected low blood levels to hair loss in women. Fatty fish such as tuna and salmon can provide this mineral. It is also common to find it as an additive in milk, orange juice, and some cereals.
Scientists are still exploring the connection between the rare element Selenium and alopecia. Animals studies have shown that rats who are genetically modified to reduce absorption of the mineral have significantly lower rates of hair growth. There have also been cases reported in the medical literature of hair loss being reversed after selenium supplementation. Although the case for taking additional selenium has not been fully proven, it is relatively easy to meet the recommended daily allowance, by eating as little as 6-8 Brazil nuts, or 3 ounces of Yellowfin tuna.
Your efforts to lose weight may also cause you to lose your hair. Fatty acids like Omega-3 and Omega-6 help promote cell growth, and your hair follicles cells have a fast rate of division. In 2009, the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine published a study showing that hair shedding increases two to four months after the development of a lipid shortage. Add flaxseed, walnuts, and canola oil to your shopping list if you are worried that you are missing out on getting enough fatty acids.