Good nutrition is essential for healthy hair growth but unfortunately no one can cheat hair loss by swigging on the latest antioxidant-packed smoothie or snacking on super berries. There is no single food that prevents hair loss, but it is a complex condition and nutrition can to a certain degree influence hair growth and the quality the hair.
“You cannot discount nutritional influences on hair loss,” Leonora Doclis, senior trichologist at the Belgravia Centre says. “If a person’s diet is healthy it shows in the skin and hair.
“There is no conclusive evidence that any particular vitamin will prevent hair loss or make hair grow back, but if I had to say one food was beneficial for the hair it would be red meat. This is because it is the easiest absorbable source of iron.”
Hair is made up of long chains of amino acids but is comprised mostly of protein (91 percent in fact) so it makes sense that a diet rich in protein be recommended for healthy hair. The hair grows from follicles within the skin and at the base of the hair root, within the follicle, is the hair bulb where nutrients are received and new cells are formed.
“Iron deficiencies can lead to hair loss,” Leonora states. This is because iron plays a key role in manufacturing haemoglobin, the part of the blood that carries oxygen to the body’s organs and tissues. When your scalp is getting a good flow of blood, the follicles are stimulated to allow other nutrients to be absorbed.
Some forms of hairloss that could be directly related to nutrition are telogen effluvium and diffuse hair loss. Thyroid, haemoglobin and hormonal problems are linked to diffuse hair loss and telogen effluvium, mostly seen in women, has been associated with diabetes and anaemia along with child birth, severe emotional stress, birth control pills, dieting drugs and thyroid problems.
“Anorexia and extreme dieting where you lose more than two pounds per week is a shock to the system and can lead to diffuse hair loss or telogen effluvium,” Leonora explains. “It could even be a precursor to male or female pattern hair loss.”
Whilst male and female pattern hair loss are genetic conditions, any number of the factors listed above could act as a trigger to bring about the condition earlier than it might have. A blood test can be taken to determine if nutrition is an initiating factor in hair loss.
“Even if there is a hereditary tendency toward hereditary hair loss I would recommend a blood test for certain people,” advises Leonora. “Particularly vegetarians, vegans, people who feel weak, teenagers, people in their early twenties and women.”
Other vitamins that have been linked to healthy hair growth are biotin, sulphur, silica, zinc and B12. “They are all involved in the formation of hair growth so of course any deficiencies could affect hair growth,” confirms Leonora. “Studies have proven that protein and iron are beneficial to the hair’s quality. The rest is hearsay but you cannot discount it.
“If a blood test shows that a woman experiencing hair loss is anaemic, even if she has a tendency toward female pattern hair loss, they are most likely to solely blame the hair loss on an iron deficiency.” However, Leonora says a two-pronged approach is best if hairloss is associated with nutritional deficiencies.
Minoxidil and the LaserComb are FDA approved and cleared treatments for hair loss which stimulate blood flow so when combined with a new dietary approach or the use of supplements, the patient can receive maximum benefits.
If you’re not as healthy as you think you should be, or are concerned that your lifestyle may be contributing to your gradually thinning hair, consult an expert and get a proper diagnosis from a certified trichologist to determine what type of hair loss you’re experiencing.
Leonora cautions, “Don’t just blame the diet because it may be only one factor contributing to the bigger picture.”
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.