Top 7 Reasons for Hair Loss
Did you know that by age 50 – about half of all men and women will experience hair loss? The majority of age-related hair loss is genetic, but even identical twins can have dramatically different heads of hair depending on their diet and lifestyle.
Studies show that by age 50, approximately half of men and women will experience hair loss. No, it’s not caused by washing your hair too much, or brushing your hair too much––two of the many myths out there. The majority of hair loss with age is genetic for both women and men. Based on twin studies, the heritability of baldness in men is 79 percent, meaning about 80 percent of the differences in hair loss between men is genetically determined. But that still leaves some wiggle room.
Even if you have identical twins––identical twin sisters in this case, with the same DNA––one can have more hair loss than the other, thanks to increased stress, increased smoking, having more children, or having a history of high blood pressure or cancer.
Smoking can contribute to the development of both male and female pattern baldness because the genotoxic compounds in cigarettes may damage the DNA in hair follicles, and cause microvascular poisoning in the base of the follicle.
Other toxic agents associated with hair loss include mercury, because it seems to concentrate about 250-fold in growing scalp hair. In fact, maybe the reason Shakespeare started losing his hair was due to mercury poisoning from syphilis treatment. Thankfully, doctors don’t give people mercury anymore. These days, as the CDC points out, mercury mainly enters the body through seafood consumption!
So, doctors should consider screening for mercury toxicity when they see hair loss, since there’s something we can do about it. Instructing clients to reduce fish intake and repeat HAIR TISSUE MINERAL ANALYSIS tests could offer relief of symptoms, and uncover dietary habits that may be a source of heavy metal-induced hair loss.
What about supplements for hair growth?
It’s a myth that supplements containing zinc will increase hair growth––unless you have zinc deficiency, like if you’re an alcoholic or something. But if you have normal zinc levels in your blood or through hair tissue testing, taking more zinc won’t help, and in fact can have negative side effects. It’s the same thing with taking iron supplements. We always suggest getting tested correctly before adding in minerals and vitamins!
The most common ingredient in top-selling hair loss products is vitamin B7, also known as biotin. Yes, biotin deﬁciency causes hair loss, but there are no evidence-based data that supplementing biotin promotes hair growth. And severe biotin deﬁciency in healthy individuals eating a normal diet has never been reported. But if you eat raw egg whites, you can acquire a biotin deﬁciency, since there are these compounds that attach to biotin and prevent it from being absorbed. But other than rare deficiency syndromes, it’s a myth that biotin supplements increase hair growth.
But hey, why not just have the attitude, ‘‘Can’t hurt, might help?” Many dietary supplements promoted for hair health contain biotin levels up to 650 times the recommended daily intake of biotin. And excess biotin in the blood can play haywire on a bunch of different blood tests, including thyroid function, and other hormone tests (including pregnancy), and the test they do to see if you’ve had a heart attack––so, it could potentially even be life or death.
TOP 7 REASONS FOR HAIR LOSS
Please note that each of these “causes” should be tested for correctly before just assuming you need a particular intervention!
- PCOS – polycystic ovarian syndrome
In this condition, male hormones or androgens are secreted in excess and they form small fluid-like sacs in the ovaries, which are known as cysts. PCOS is caused by diet! Too many fats and animal foods in your diet cause your body to become resistant to insulin, which in turn creates male hormones (DHEA and/or Testosterone) to build up in your body… which negatively affects your hair growth. While you may notice more hair growth on your body, it can trigger hair to fall from your scalp.
Anemia is a result of low iron, low B12 and/or low B6 intake in one’s diet. Many women may be anemic due to heavy menstruation or inadequate folic acid in their body. This results in low production of hemoglobin, which means less oxygen to your organs. When oxygen does not reach your hair follicles, they tend to be weak and break easily. This results in hair falling out at a rapid rate. Checking not only your serum blood iron panels but also a FERRITIN test is important.
Hormones throughout your life will contribute to hair growth and hair loss. A lot of changes take place in a woman’s body once she enters menopause and one of them can be hair falling out. This is because estrogen hormone levels are low in the body or estrogen and progesterone might be imbalanced. Hormones can make the hair dry and also cause hair loss if due care isn’t taken. It is essential to use mild shampoos and condition your hair as well as eat right. Low Vitamin D3 (which is technically a hormone) also contributes to hair loss.
- Protein, Minerals, Vitamins
Our hair is made of a protein called keratin. When we do not eat protein-rich foods, it depletes from our body making the hair brittle. This leads to weak strands, which fall prematurely. Getting your protein from plant sources is ideal (instead of coming from milk, eggs, & meats from animals). But women with low cortisol levels (stressed adrenals) will also need a bit of animal protein to support their endocrine function. Strive for a minimum of 80gm per day up to 100gm per day of protein.
Ensuring that your minerals and vitamins are also in balance and present in sufficient quantity (not too much, not too little) contributes to hair growth. Extreme zinc deficiency can cause hair loss. Zinc levels in the blood and hair are lower in men experiencing androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness. We can see low zinc with either blood tests or HAIR TISSUE MINERAL ANALYSIS testing which is preferred.
Women who are on birth control pills can have side effects like hair falling out if they abruptly stop using them. Other synthetic hormonal pills and therapies can have a similar effect. Chemotherapy sessions also result in hair loss.
- Thyroid issues, autoimmune diseases, etc.
Your thyroid is responsible for secreting triiodothyronine (Free T3) and thyroxine (Free T4) hormones which are needed for the proper growth and development of our body. When a person suffers from hypo or hyperthyroidism, there is either an excess or low secretion of these hormones which can lead to hair loss. Hair loss is one of the complications due to various changes taking place in your body. In any autoimmune disease, our body creates antibodies against our own cells and tissues. They attack the hair as well as other organs resulting in hair loss.
- Anxiety and STRESS
Hair loss is not the only symptom of anxiety but it can be the most stressful one for some women. The key issue between anxiety and hair loss is stress. Temporary stress will not cause hair loss… but chronic long-term stress can certainly lead to hair loss. Stress can cause many conditions that lead to hair loss:
- Alopecia Areata – sudden loss of large clumps of hair around your scalp. This type of hair loss is actually stress related AND is considered an autoimmune disease condition in the body.
- Telogen Effluvium – this is a condition where more hairs than normal fall out. This occurs when your body tells the hair to stop growing. Hairs have a growth cycle of two years before stopping and falling out about 2 months later. If your body “tells” more hairs than normal to stop growing, two months later more hairs will fall out. It’s a delayed reaction to stress.
- Trichotillomania – this is a habitual condition caused by stress and anxiety where the person pulls out hairs (sometimes without even realizing that’s what they are doing!).
Bottom line… to date, no new interventions are used routinely in the treatment of male or female pattern baldness. Given the side effects of the current drug options (Propecia or Minoxidil) there IS a need for alternative treatments. So, what about foods? Things we could eat to combat hair loss.
Let’s take a look… at 3 key foods that help with hair loss: hot peppers, soy foods, and pumpkin seeds.
Androgenic or androgenetic alopecia, also known as male or female pattern hair loss, is one of the most common chronic problems seen by dermatologists. Wait: so, it’s called male pattern hair loss and female pattern hair loss? Yeah, in men, they call it male pattern hair loss, and in women, they call it female pattern hair loss. Either way, it is characterized by progressive hair loss, predominantly of the central scalp. I mentioned above about hair-loss supplements and drugs. But what about foods for hair loss? What role might diet play in the treatment of hair loss?
Human experiments with fecal transplants offer a clue to how powerful our microbiome is, with reports of improvements in hair loss after a fecal slurry made from freshly-passed stools from a donor was administered into another person’s colon, and not just by a little. A totally bald guy starts growing back hair a few months after a fecal transplant, and a little over a year later––completely regrown. I know… gross… but effective! That doesn’t mean I want to see my clients eating someone else’s poop! But it does give us insight into the role the gut plays in hair loss!
Population studies have found that male pattern baldness is associated with poor sleeping habits and the consumption of meat and junk food (no kidding!)
Yet….they found hair growth and less loss with the consumption of raw vegetables, fresh herbs, as well as the frequent consumption of soy milk!
Drinking soy beverages on a weekly basis was associated with 62 percent lower odds of moderate to severe hair loss, raising the possibility that there may be compounds in plants that may be protective.
We found a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of compounds in hot peppers and soy, showing significantly higher promotion of hair growth. (if you’re scared about eating more soy… click HERE)
What kind of doses were they using? They used 6 mg of capsaicin a day, and 75 milligrams of isoflavones. Okay, what does that translate out to in real food? You can get 6 mg of capsaicin in just a quarter of a fresh jalapeno pepper a day. That sounds pretty doable. And you can get 75 mg of isoflavones eating ¾ of a cup of tempeh, or just straight soybeans. Soy nuts (dry-roasted soybeans) are even more concentrated, but given the formation of advanced glycation end-products in high fat/high protein foods at high temperatures, I’d suggest avoiding routinely eating roasted or toasted nuts, seeds, or soy.
There’s also been a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of pumpkin seed oil. In 2009, a study out of South Korea found that randomizing men with BPH—enlarged prostate glands—to just 320 mg of pumpkin seed oil a day (that’s about a 16th of a teaspoon; so, just a few drops a day) improved urinary flow rates. Urinary flow continued to kink off and decline in the control group, but those taking the equivalent of just like eating two single pumpkin seeds a day saw a significant improvement. That would seem to be an anti-androgen effect; so, maybe it would help with hair loss.
It seems to work in mice when used topically, but what about in people just eating pumpkin seeds? It couldn’t hurt. Sadly, we often throw away pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, or watermelon seeds, and they actually have a rich repertoire of nutrition. But you don’t know if they actually work for hair loss, until you put it to the test.
So, someone did…. 76 men with male pattern baldness received 400 mg of pumpkin seed oil a day hidden in capsules, or they took placebo capsules for a few months. Again, that’s only like eating 2 pumpkin seeds a day––maybe two and a half pumpkin seeds. They measured scalp hair growth with all sorts of objective and subjective measures, and…after 24 weeks of treatment, self-rated improvement and satisfaction scores in the pumpkin seed oil group were higher, and they objectively had more hair, a 40 percent increase in hair counts, compared to only 10 percent in the placebo group.
In the pumpkin group, 95 percent remained either unchanged or improved, whereas in the control group, more than 90 percent remained unchanged or worsened. Given such a pronounced effect, might we be worried about sexual side effects? They looked before and after at an index of erectile dysfunction and found no evidence of adverse effects.
So there you have it… make sure to rule out the 7 tops reason above… change your diet by avoiding inflammatory oils and foods… ensure you add more soy to your diet, 2 or 3 pumpkin seeds and a little chili pepper added to your salad on a daily basis! Be patient… you will notice a difference in 1-3 months…
Give us a call and let us help you sort it all out! First step is getting tested properly with a saliva hormone test , a HAIR TISSUE MINERAL ANAYLSIS & proper blood panels ordered. We can assist with all of that!
Read: To Soy or Not to Soy!