Is Thinning Hair Due to Taking Too Much Selenium?'

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Question: Hi, I was taking double the required daily amount of selenium supplements. To my horror, it has resulted in my hair becoming so thin at the front now. I’ve stopped taking the supplements completely & I’m wondering if my hair will ever grow back. It was thick before :(

pills tablets medication blister pack vitamins supplementsAnswer: Hi, Shenayla. It is certainly true that increased levels of some vitamins and minerals can lead to hair loss.

Selenium helps to promote the normal operation of the immune system and thyroid gland, as well as preventing cell and tissue damage. It may also encourage the hair growth cycle to function properly.

It is also one of the trace elements you need to be careful with as it is not processed by the body as quickly as other nutrients. It is only necessary in tiny amounts per day - 0.06mg for women and 0.075mg for men. The Department of Health advises that 'you should be able to get all the selenium you need by eating a varied and balanced diet including meat. fish or nuts.'

As such, when taking additional selenium supplements - or other food supplements which contain selenium - it is vital to understand that this amount is being added on top of any selenium you may be getting from food sources. Though it is possible to exceed the RDAs within a certain range in some instances - again, the Department of Health states that 'taking 0.35mg or less a day of selenium supplements is unlikely to cause harm', it is always best to check with a specialist before doing so.

At Belgravia we offer a hair growth food supplement - Hair Vitalics - which contains high doses of selenium, alongside other key nutrients. Because we take patients' medical histories, we can check their medications and medical history/conditions against ingredients and contraindications and advise accordingly before deciding whether they are suitable.

Whilst selenium is important for healthy hair growth and the other functions previously mentioned, regular excessive consumption can result in the body 'hoarding' supplies, causing a nutritional imbalance. When this happens, it can have the opposite effect and actively cause hair loss and thinning hair, as well as having a negative effect on the skin and nails.

Hair loss caused by dietary issues is known as Telogen Effluvium. This usually presents around three months after it has been triggered and causes thinning hair all over the scalp. Whilst it tends to regrow naturally within around six months once the underlying cause has been removed, telogen effluvium treatment can often help to speed this process along.

If the hair at the front of your scalp, particularly around the temples and hairline, is noticeably thinner and worse affected, this may be due to Female Pattern Hair Loss. This hereditary condition only affects women with a genetic predisposition - so, for example, if your father or grandfather have Male Pattern Baldness, or if the female members of your immediate family have signs of women's hair loss, this would indicate you are likely to have this propensity.

If there is this existing genetic bias, female hair loss can be triggered by Telogen Effluvium. It is also possible to present with both conditions simultaneously. Whilst female pattern hair loss only affects the top of the scalp and hairline, and TE causes shedding from the whole scalp, both at once will show as diffusely thinning hair that is worse around the top of the head, often at the temples, hairline and parting.

Both conditions can be managed using bespoke women's hair loss treatment, wether you are affected by one, the other, or both. The first step now that you have stopped taking the supplements which may have caused the issues, is to have an assessment with a specialist who can provide you with a confirmed diagnosis.

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