Hair loss and thinning is a common concern.
Isn’t it super frustrating to get all the dye and chemical off your head only to discover you are losing your hair, or you have little bald spots? There is a ton of information out there much of which is inaccurate, so I thought I’d give you all the low down on Great Nutrition for Great Hair.
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The usual amount of hair lost per day is between 50-150 strands. The shorter your hair the less you notice it and the longer your hair, you often think you have lost more hair just because of the length of the strand. Weight loss, stress, illness, fever, child birth, and other factors can be the reason for temporary hair loss. More often than not, hair loss or thinning is caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies. These deficiencies can be caused by a multitude of reasons so start with your doctor or natural practitioner and ask if they can help, you may need blood work to see if anything is amiss.*
Digestive disorders will top the list for causing deficiencies, namely the lack of hydrochloric acid in your stomach. Hydrochloric acid breaks down macro-particles and nutrients into assimilable micro-particles, if you take any stomach acid blockers you could be at risk. You can have a stomach acid test performed by your gastroenterologist, but in general as we age we produce less HCL. You may need an HCL with Pepsin supplement to ensure proper assimilation. You know you need HCL if you have a bit of trouble digesting meats, especially red meat. Here is a guide to help you figure out what you need and how much.
Other health factors for deficiencies can include thyroid disorders, perimenopause & menopause hormone fluctuations, diabetes, high blood pressure, adrenal disorders, and more can cause problems with your hair, skin, and nails.
Once you’ve talked with your health practitioner and you know how you are doing, here are some common vitamins, minerals, and foods that can help you on your journey to a GREY-T Head of Hair.
A, B, C’s of Healthy Hair Nutrition:
Biotin (Vitamin B7):
Biotin metabolizes fats and amino acids, it is necessary for cell growth, and this means it is essential for healthy skin, hair, and nails. It is widely found in hair, skin, and nail supplements and shampoo because it is one of the best vitamins for your hair. Biotin deficiencies are linked to intestinal problems mainly the imbalance of proper gut bacteria. A good probiotic helps here, especially, if you’ve had a lot of antibiotics or stomach (viral or bacterial) infections. Probiotic Pearls are my favorite because they are guaranteed to make it into your small intestine where they are of most value.
Biotin rich foods include:
- Sesame seeds
- Goat’s milk
B vitamins as a whole are good for your hair, so finding a B vitamin complex high in biotin and a complete vitamin B panel is ideal. Your b vitamins include B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), and B12 (methylcobalamin).
Calcium, Magnesium, and Vitamin D:
These are not just for strong bones, these three work together for creating a strong and healthy immune system. A blood test is the surest way to test for these to see what your blood serum levels are.
Calcium can be found readily in our diets but calcium can have assimilation issues from the lack of hydrochloric acid in your stomach. Deficiency in calcium can also be a sure sign you are deficient in Vitamin D.
The most assimilable supplement form of calcium is calcium citrate stear clear of calcium carbonate it can be a culprit in gallstones and kidney stones. You also need twice the magnesium to make sure your calcium gets absorbed and used, this is why many supplements contain calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D combined. Deficiency symptoms of calcium include bone thinning, easily broken bones, and muscle tension and pain.
Calcium rich foods include:
- Goat’s Milk
- Collard Greens
Vitamin D is your sunshine vitamin. Because of the fear of sun-damage, most of us now don’t get enough sun, which means we do not absorb enough to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D has become one of the most common deficiencies of late; symptoms include, having the flu or colds often, heavy legs, fatigue, lethargy, broken bones, and muscle weakness. Supplementing can work but the best advice is getting 20 minutes of sun a day around 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. while the sun is high in the sky, usually summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Good exposure is key so bare your arms, legs, and face. 20 Minutes will not cause skin damage. There are some handy online maps for when the optimal times of year to get UVB rays are, wherever you live.
Magnesium: Do you feel like you are pulling your hair out from stress…while calcium and vitamin D aren’t direct culprits in hair loss, magnesium can be. Magnesium is your stress mineral, it is a great supplement before bed to make your body relax and get a good night’s sleep. It helps calm your entire system including your blood pressure. I like CALM and I take it before bed. They also make a combo of Calcium and Magnesium. Magnesium deficiency symptoms include high blood pressure, tension headaches and body aches, and imbalances in blood sugar.
Magnesium rich foods include:
- Pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds
- Flax seeds
- Black beans
The literal Greek to English translation of collagen is Glue Producing. Amino acids are the core protein structure to organic life, without them you would fall apart…you cannot live without them. Collagen hydrolysate is one of the fastest, easiest ways to improve all of your connective tissue, bones, skin, hair, nails, and your digestive system. Collagen is a little army of amino acid doctors that go in and target your weakest tissue first, and then it moves on to build up the next weakest area. It promotes rapid cell growth so it is great for any recovery from muscle recovery after a workout to surgical recovery. My favorite brand is Great Lakes because it meets all the requirements of organic (this is a must with collagen), pasture raised, and one of the safest forms in its industry. You can also get collagen from bone broth, great for digestive system repair, as well.
Copper is an essential trace mineral (means you only need a small amount) for helping your thyroid, iron absorption, and nerve, bone and connective tissue strength and health. Symptoms of deficiency include hair loss, joint pain, bruising easily, and iron deficiency anemia.
Cooper rich foods include:
- Crimini mushrooms
- Sesame seeds
- Green Beans
- Potatoes (sweet or white)
Essential Fatty Acids are essential for a reason, very little of your body can function properly without omega-3 fatty acids. Your brain is made of fat and your cells need fat to maintain fluidity. Our low-fat society caused many deficiencies in this area of nutrition because it outlawed fats for so long. Our low-fat culture could actually have been a contributor to the chronic vitamin D deficiencies as well, since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Deficiency symptoms can include dry itchy skin, dry hair and scalp, dry brittle nails, fatigue, and joint pain.
The right fats make the brain faster, smarter, and stronger.
The right fats actually promote weight loss.
Low fat diets will eventually cause you to gain weight.
Essential fatty acids can help healthy joint function including alleviating arthritis pain.
Essential fatty acids can help reduce cancer-causing cells.
Essential fatty acids keep the liver and kidneys healthy.
Oils promote healthy reproductive and hormone function, reducing symptoms of PMS and menopause.
Healthy sources of EFA’s:
- Grass fed organic butter (my favorite source)
- Olive oil (uncooked is best)
- Fish oils (wild caught)
- Coconut oil
- Hemp oil
- Flax seeds
- Winter squash
Iron deficiencies can be caused by several issues, in women, the main one is menses, you lose a lot of iron if you have heavy periods, and even giving blood can cause dangerous drops in iron. Other causes can be not assimilating iron properly from your foods; this is most often due to aging and the loss of hydrochloric acid. There are two types of iron, heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is only found in meat and some people cannot assimilate anything but heme iron so it can be problematic in a vegan lifestyle. Non-heme iron is found in plants grains, fruits and vegetables, and beans. Most common side effects of low iron are weakness and fatigue, dizzy spells, bruising easily, and hair loss. Foods high in iron need to be eaten with vitamin C rich foods as the vitamin C helps break the iron down for absorption into your blood stream.
Sources of heme iron in food include:
- Cooked Oysters
Sources of non-heme iron in food include:
- Spinach (my favorite source)
- Swiss chard
- Tofu (if you are vegan or vegetarian)
- Shitake Mushrooms
- Pumpkin and Sesame seeds
- Quinoa (another my favorites)
While scalp massage is not nutrition from within, nourishing your scalp with a great hair oil like QuickSilverHair Oil can also help stimulate your follicles for healthy hair, hair growth, and a healthy scalp. I hand selected these oils for that purpose.
If you have thyroid issues it’s a pretty sure bet you have issues with selenium. Selenium helps the body produce thyroid hormones, and is a super hero in protecting cells against free radical damage. It cannot work alone though so make sure you have a balanced diet if you supplement selenium it needs helpers like vitamins B3, C, E, and Iodine.
Food sources of Selenium:
- Crimini and Shitake Mushrooms
- Brown Rice
- Sunflower seeds
A trace mineral. While you don’t need much, it is essential for all connective tissue, skin, scalp, hair, nails, and bones. It is commonly found in hair, skin, and nail formulas alongside biotin.
Silica rich foods include:
- Beer (hello!)
- Green Beans
- Mineral water
- Whole grains
I cannot express enough how important water is to your overall connective tissue and digestive health. The three beginning essentials of life are Air, Water, and Food in that order. Proper hydration is the beginning of proper assimilation and delivery of nutrients into your cells. Be mindful of your tap water, the chemicals used in tap water may leach minerals from your system, so filter your water or buy water filtered from a drinking water distributor. Never drink untested well water.
Zinc is the most common deficiency that can cause hair loss. If you have skin issues like acne and dry scaly skin it could be a sign of zinc deficiency. The standard diet can make this happen, when we aren’t getting proper nutrients from good quality healthy foods. You can take a high quality supplement (with food or it causes a stomach ache). Bonus of taking zinc is it helps balance blood sugar, boosts your immune system and helps regulate your metabolic rate.
High zinc foods sources:
- Oysters top the list
- Calf’s liver
- Crimini Mushrooms (my favorite)
- Summer Squash
- Pumpkin and Sesame Seeds
You will notice that many of these nutrients come from proteins; protein is an essential nutrient for the immune system, the hair, skin and nails, and your muscular skeletal system.
Clearly, our hair health is linked and cross-linked with our overall health and wellness. Your digestive system as a whole plays a huge part in this, if your digestive system is suffering first, then everything suffers after it. Eating well is essential to that overall health, and you can be sure the healthier you are the healthier your hair is.
If all those vitamins seem overwhelming, Irwin Naturals Women’s Living Green Liquid-Gel Multi Vitamin is an excellent balanced formula.
Meal ideas to incorporate all your Great Nutrition for Grey-t Hair:
Bowl of oatmeal or quinoa topped with grass fed butter, slices of banana, cinnamon, pumpkin, sunflower, and flax seeds, a few walnuts.
Or a spinach, mushroom omelet with roasted sesame seeds.
Stuffed winter squash with chicken and veggies like broccoli and Crimini mushrooms with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Or a whole grain sandwich with cheese, fresh sliced roast beefs, spinach and avocado spread.
Salmon or chicken, with green beans or asparagus, sautéed in lemon and grass fed butter, sprinkled with almond slices, and a bowl of brown rice or quinoa.
A bowl of yogurt, a handful of almonds, and a banana.
Or avocado toast on your choice of gluten free or whole grain bread sprinkled with sea salt.
Thank you for reading. Please feel free to share.
As always it is about so much more than the hair.
- Mateljan, George. The World’s Healthiest Foods: Essential Guide for the Healthiest Way of Eating. George Mateljan Foundation, 2007.
- “16 Vitamin Deficiencies That Lead to Hair Loss.” HealDove, HealDove, 10 June 2015, healdove.com/disease-illness/16-Vitamin-Deficiencies-that-Lead-to-Hair-Loss.
- Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Nov. 2017, wikipedia.org/.
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