Last Updated on October 12, 2020
Hair loss is a normal part of our everyday lives. But if you lose hair more frequently and in significantly large amounts, then you have reasons to be worried.
That’s because there could be an underlying medical condition triggering uncontrolled hair loss. And even if you’re perfectly healthy, bald patches on your scalp can leave you battling with serious self-image issues.
What Causes Hair Loss?
The following are some of the common causes of hair loss
1. Androgenetic alopecia
Simply referred to as male or female pattern baldness, androgenetic alopecia is the most common cause of hair loss. It affects both men and women and is largely due to genetic predisposition.
In males, androgenetic alopecia causes hair loss from the temples and around the crown of the head. In females, the condition causes hair thinning all over the head. Androgenetic alopecia generally starts from puberty but becomes more intense as a person ages.
2. Alopecia areata
This refers to an autoimmune condition that attacks the hair follicles, resulting in rapid hair loss.
3. Traction alopecia
In traction alopecia, hair loss occurs due to unhealthy hairstyling habits, such as pulling of the hair into thick, solid knots. Some of the hairstyles that cause traction alopecia include cornrows, braids, ponytails, and extensions.
4. Hormonal imbalance
Hormonal activity, particularly changes in estrogen levels, could also cause hair loss. This is usually common during pregnancy.
5. Certain medications
There’s a long list of medications associated with hair loss. Examples include birth control pills like desogen, blood-thinning drugs like warfarin, antidepressants, cholesterol-inhibiting medications, and beta-blockers.
6. Anagen effluvium
Anagen effluvium generally causes massive hair loss from the head, eyebrows, eyelashes, and various other body parts. It’s mostly caused by chemotherapy treatment, radiation, autoimmune disease, and fungal infections.
7. Telogen effluvium
In telogen effluvium, hair perpetually remains in its natural shedding phase. So, any new hair doesn’t grow past this stage. The condition usually results from childbirth, stress and anxiety, rapid weight loss, certain medications, surgical operations, and thyroid problems.
8. Nutritional deficiency
Certain vitamins and minerals play a crucial role in hair growth. Therefore, a deficiency in the same vitamins may result in hair loss.
In addition to the above possible causes of baldness, diseases that attack the scalp, such as ringworms, may also cause temporary baldness.
Best Vitamins for Hair Growth
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is one of the essential vitamins required by all body cells and tissues for growth and development. And since hair is the fastest-growing tissue, it only takes a slight deficiency in Vitamin A to experience massive hair loss.
Vitamin A promotes hair growth by boosting the manufacture of sebum. Sebum is an oily substance that moisturizes the scalp, helping the growth of new hair while also preserving old hair.
Examples of foods that are abundant in Vitamin A include; broccoli, carrots, kales, pumpkins, spinach, sweet potatoes, cod liver oil, dairy products, and eggs.
All the B vitamins play a crucial role in promoting hair growth. However, Vitamin B7, popularly known as biotin, has shown the most positive effects with hair growth and development. In fact, biotin is so effective for hair growth that numerous studies attribute most cases of hair loss in humans to biotin deficiency.
The good news about biotin is that it’s abundant in various types of foods, which means that a deficiency in the mineral is almost next to impossible. However, people who’re already suffering from hair loss or damage can try biotin-enriched supplements for a faster recovery.
Examples of foods that are rich in biotin include; nuts like almonds, sweet potatoes, whole grains, eggs, meat, seafood, and dark, leafy vegetables.
In addition to biotin, other B vitamins include:
• B1 (thiamine)
• B2 (riboflavin)
• B3 (niacin)
• B5 (pantothenic acid)
• Folic acid.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is the main antioxidant that the body requires. So, a deficiency in this essential vitamin increases your risks of contracting infections, particularly chronic and terminal illnesses. A deficiency in vitamin C is also linked to hair loss.
In terms of promoting hair growth, vitamin C specifically prevents damage to hair cells resulting from oxidative stress caused by free radicals in the body.
Without a proper mechanism for checking the levels of free radicals in hair cells, your hair could age prematurely and begin to fall off. Vitamin C is also associated with the synthesis of collagen, which is a protein that’s a crucial component of hair structure. Plus, the vitamin boosts your body’s ability to absorb other minerals required for hair growth, such as iron.
Some of the foods that are loaded with vitamin C include; broccoli, citrus fruits like lemon, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, strawberries, and winter squash.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps with the formation of new hair follicles, which is a crucial role in promoting hair growth. One of the best things about vitamin D is that it’s readily abundant in nature. A 10 – 15-minute exposure in the midmorning sunlight is all it takes for our bodies to synthesize this vitamin. But regardless of its abundance, cases of vitamin D deficiency aren’t unheard of.
Thankfully, there are plenty of food supplements that are rich in vitamin D, including cod liver oil, dairy products, fatty fish, and certain types of mushrooms.
5. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is loaded with antioxidants, which, as we’ve already explained, help to prevent the oxidative stress caused to hair cells by free radicals.
In one study investigating the effects of vitamin E for hair growth, participants with hair loss problems experienced about a 35% increase in hair growth after eight months of supplementing with vitamin E.
Common foods that are rich in vitamin E include; almonds, avocados, broccoli, spinach, sunflower seeds, and soybean oil.
Other Minerals That Facilitate Hair Growth
In addition to the top five vitamins that we’ve reviewed above, the following minerals also play significant roles in promoting hair growth.
Much of your hair is made up of protein. So, eating protein-rich foods directly boosts hair growth while also maintaining the health of your hair. Protein is abundant in both plant and animal food products, and common sources include buckwheat, chia seeds, nuts, dairy products, soy milk, chicken, and fish.
b) Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which have shown positive results with heart disease. It turns out that these acids might also promote hair growth. Omega-3 fatty acids improve hair development by improving the functions of cell membranes, allowing nutrients to flow through them more effectively. Common sources include nuts and seeds, plant oils, and seafood.
Iron enhances the transportation of oxygen and other essential nutrients to various sites within the body. Therefore, it nourishes your hair cells with oxygen and minerals required for healthy growth. According to research, iron deficiency leads to anemia, a condition that causes hair loss. You can increase your iron intake by investing in foods like beans, lentils, cashews, tofu, clams, spinach, eggs, and red meat.
Zinc boosts hair growth and promotes the repair and recovery of hair tissues. The mineral also boosts the function of oil glands that are located near hair follicles. Some of the foods that are loaded with zinc include cereals, legumes like beans and chickpeas, nuts like almonds and cashews, poultry, and red meat.
Last but not least, consuming foods that are rich in magnesium might also help to prevent premature baldness and other types of hair loss. Magnesium promotes the growth of hair follicles and relieves anxiety, both of which are crucial in preventing hair loss. The mineral is abundant in various food sources, such as almonds, cashews, beans, and tofu.
Evidently, there are numerous vitamins and minerals you can supplement with to keep hair loss at bay. Just remember to moderate your intake of these minerals as some have been shown to produce the contrary results if used in excess.