Hair loss can come as a sudden surprise that is very distressing to many. It can be caused by various factors, including genetics, nutritional deficiency, and stress. While we cannot change genetics, optimizing nutrition and stress management can help prevent your hair from falling out.
Why is Nutrition Important for Hair Health?
Just like any organ in the body, hair also needs to be fueled with adequate nutrients to grow and stay healthy. When the hair starts thinning, it is usually an indicator of micronutrient deficiency. For example, alopecia areata, a condition where bald patches appear suddenly, is associated with low vitamin D levels. In addition, research has shown that hair graying during childhood or early early adulthood are related to low levels of:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
Why Does Stress Cause Hair Loss?
Stress acts as a toxin inside the body, damaging numerous cellular functions including hair growth. It can put hair follicles in a resting phase or contribute to the autoimmune disease alopecia areata. Typically, only 10% of the hairs are in the resting phase, but stress can push this to 30%. As a result, you can lose three times as many hairs every day.
In addition, some people manage stress by pulling on hair, twirling the hair and obsessively washing the hair. These habits can also cause direct damage to your hair.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent these damages! Here are 5 practical tips:
- Supplement Omega 3s
These essential fatty acids have a key role in maintaining your skin, hair and nails. Research has shown that fermented fish oil derived from Mackerel and its active component docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can promote hair growth. A 6-month supplementation with omega 3&6 and antioxidants resulted in roughly 90% reduction in hair loss, hair diameter and hair density.
Top Omega 3 food sources
- Seafood: Mackerel, Salmon, Seabass, Oysters, Trout, Shrimp
- Seaweed and algae
- Nuts and seeds: walnuts, chia, hemp, flaxseeds
- Beans: edamame, soybeans, kidney beans
It’s not that hard to add them to your diet! A nut bar or edamame can be the best snacks for any day.
- Magnesium and Magnesium Oil
Magnesium is considered as the “anti-stress mineral” due to its efficacy in reducing anxiety and improving symptoms of depression. Magnesium malate can also prevent calcium from building up on your scalp and clogging the hair follicles, the chief culprit for making your scalp dry and weak. In addition, magnesium helps with protein synthesis, supporting the growth and maintenance of healthy hair.
Magnesium deficiency is rarely talked about but it is actually more common than we think! An estimate of up to 20% of the population is deficient and a shocking 42% of university students have subnormal magnesium levels. Therefore, ensuring enough magnesium in your diet is the minimum you should do for your overall health. Generally, foods high in fiber such as vegetables and grains are also high in magnesium.
Unfortunately, transporting magnesium to your hair after all the steps of digestion is not the most effective way. Instead, magnesium is better absorbed through the skin. Massaging magnesium oil directly on your hair could better nourish the sculpts, enter the hair follicles and regulate calcium deposits. Having said that, it is also not recommended to leave magnesium oil for longer than 30 minutes.
- Identify Stressful Triggers
We have learned that hair loss can be caused by a sudden onset of physical or emotional stress. However, once the stress is removed, the hair can typically regrow. Therefore, it is important to identify the causative stressor.
- Do you have a chronic illness and are taking medications that may have side effects?
- Are you pregnant/delivered a baby and are dealing with stress related to your new identity?
- Are you preparing for a stressful surgery or are recovering from one?
- Have you had a severe infection or are you susceptible to infections?
- Do you have or have had any malnutritions?
- Do you suffer from an endocrine disorder or are post-menopause?
- Manage Stress with Lifestyle
Once you have identified the stressor, implementing appropriate stress management activities can help prevent further damage.
If the stressor is an ongoing state of mind, such as anxiety, you could try stress-relieving workouts such as yoga. Breathing techniques and guided meditation are also daily routines that can help.
If the stressor is a chronic disorder, you can try improving your physical health through proper nutrition, medication and supplements.
Supplements that can boost your immunity will guard you from infections and reduce your stress from such illnesses.
Immune boosting natural ingredients include:
- Mineral-rich supplements like Shilajit
- Adaptogenic mushrooms like Reishi
- Traditional herbs like Astragalus
You can buy shilajit supplements in the pill form and consume it on a regular basis to get your daily dose of minerals and other antioxidants that can promote hair growth.
- Use Good Hair Care
Be kind to yourself and use some good hair care habits for healthy hair care habits and products! Using harsh products are the same as feeding your hair toxins, so make sure you avoid:
- Chemicals including dyes, bleach, highlights
- Toxic ingredients in shampoos and conditioners
- Brushing your hair when it’s wet
- High temperature treatment
- Curl and straighten procedures
- Overdrying your hair
Lastly, most people don’t know how to dry their hair properly. Blow dry or air dry, do you know which one is better?
When hair contacts water, it swells up and becomes more fragile. It’s not a problem if you can dry your hair quickly, but when it stays wet, the hair can crack and become permanently damaged. Therefore, natural drying on a winter day may be a bad idea.
However, blow dry with high heat is also damaging as heat can evaporate more moisture and leave your hair dry. So what’s the right way for drying your hair? Follow these steps:
- Use a soft towel to absorb moisture out of your hair
- Blow dry your hair on a low heat and speed setting
- Hold your hairdryer at a distance and move it around, avoiding burning of one area
There you have it, hair loss doesn’t have to be permanent if you adopt a healthy nutrition, stress-free lifestyle and some good hair routines!