In the past two decades, there has been a trend of younger men seeking hair treatment for Male Pattern Baldness. While balding is an issue that many men do not have to contend with until in their forties, many patients as young as twenty are experiencing significant hair loss.
And that’s upsetting, when you can’t blame “getting older” for the condition of thinning hair, right?
What has changed in such a short span that may be contributing to increased hair loss for men (and also women) correlates strongly in North America, to a shift in nutrition and lifestyle habits. In this article we’re going to share the link between diet and healthy hair growth, to help our patients understand the importance of nutrition as part of your restoration therapies.
Feeding Healthy Hair: What Nutrients Are Required for Strong and Consistent Hair Growth?
There are 6 essential vitamins and nutrients your body needs, to stimulate hair regrowth and to sustain strong hair follicles, to prevent thinning or balding.
Keratin is the prominent hardened protein in each hair on your body. If you are not intaking a sufficient amount of dietary (or supplemental) protein, hair becomes weaker and grows at a slower rate. Remember we naturally lose hairs every day (even without a specific condition or problem). Without new hair growth to replace those lost hair, thinning begins to become noticeable quickly.
Tip: Incorporate lean meats and fish, cheese and explore quinoa to hit your daily protein requirements.
You’ve heard of the supplement, and in fact just about everyone who has or is experiencing hair growth issues is taking biotin as a daily vitamin. How does it work? Biotin helps the body boost the production of amino acids that help bond proteins.
Tip: Natural dietary sources of biotin include carrots, walnuts, cauliflower and almonds. You can snack every day to help promote healthy hair.
Your red blood cells take nutrients to every area of your body through the blood stream, and to propel that distribution of essential proteins, minerals and vitamins, your body needs iron. There is such a strong correlation between low ferritin levels and hair loss, that it’s a good idea to ask your primary care physician to conduct a blood test to ascertain if low iron is part of the problem, before you commence hair restoration therapies.
Tip: Iron rich foods include beef, spinach, oysters, clams, tofu and eggs.
Omega3 Fatty Acids
The cellular membranes on the scalp of your head require water (hydration) and omega-3 fatty acids to product the natural oils that help condition the skin and promote healthy hair growth. Omega-3 fatty acids are also responsible for producing that noticeable shine that healthy hair has.
Tip: Incorporate more flax seeds, walnuts, soybeans and fish like striped sea bass or mackerel into your diet every week.
The entire family of B-vitamins are very important to overall health, but vitamin B6, B12 and folate are essential for carrying nutrients and oxygen to the scalp and follicles. Dry hair that falls out easily, can be linked strongly to low levels of those two essential vitamins. You can also include them with supervision and advice from your primary care physician, as daily dietary supplements.
Tip: Pork tenderloin is loaded with B6 and B12 vitamins. They can also be found in oatmeal, dairy foods and some types of beans and lentils.
Did you know that vitamin C is used internally, to create collagen in the body? From soft skin to a strong and healthy scalp (and hair root system), vitamin C also helps the body to absorb iron (another healthy hair essential).
Tip: Find some extra vitamin C every day in foods like kale, oranges, strawberries, or bell peppers.
Hydration Matters for Good Health and Great Hair
Physicians and health magazines are always telling us that we need to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day, but they don’t really communicate how much water your body uses, and how quickly dehydration can occur.
Our bodies are comprised 60% to 80% of water, and it relies on a strong intake of fresh water to maintain cellular health. Your body burns through a minimum of 2 to 3 quarts of water per day, in activities of daily living (and even more for very physically active adults). We lose that water to sweat, elimination processes and through natural evaporation through our skin.
At the root of every hair follicle are cells, that rely on adequate amounts of water to stay strong, and regenerate new cells that keep both the root and the hair shaft healthy. In fact, the hair is one of the first noticeable places that individuals can measure how hydrated (or dehydrated) they are.
Your body also makes hard choices, when it comes to hydration. If you are not intaking a sufficient amount of water every day, your body actually considers your hair a ‘nice to have’ thing, rather than an essential, and it allocates what water is available, to essential functions like the nervous system, organ functioning and digestion.
Like a badly watered garden, the smallest plants are usually the first to wither, dry and fall down. Translated to a dehydrated patient, your hair will bear the brunt of dehydration, and accelerate hair thinning and loss.
If you care about your hair, drink plain fresh water every day and make it a priority. Remember that:
- Water is the foundational resource for every cell in your body, including the building blocks for every single hair follicle.
- Water hydrates hair cells and provides them with additional vitamins and sustains healthy nerve endings through hydrolysis.
If you have good daily hydration, your hair should have a shine to it, your scalp should be in good condition with natural oils, and hair growth should be strong. If you are dehydrated, you may experience a dry or cracked scalp, damaged and brittle hair, and very slow regrowth.