Hair loss is a common problem for many people. What causes hair loss on the scalp? What nutrients are needed for healthy hair growth?
A person’s health is reflected in his hair. Causes of hair loss are related to genetics, hormones, diet, stress, diseases and other factors.
According to Dr. Zhang Shiheng, director of the Neihu Qilo Integrative Medicine Clinic, androgenetic alopecia (baldness) is the most common cause of hereditary hair loss.
Androgen hormones under the action of the enzyme 5α-reductase are converted to dihydrotestosterone, which affects the hair follicles and causes hair loss. When dihydrotestosterone is produced in the body, the hair follicles shrink and degrade and hair loss begins.
Both men and women produce dihydrotestosterone in their body, but men are more prone to androgenetic alopecia. Dr. Zang explains this by saying that women have two X chromosomes, while men have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome.
Because the gene for androgenetic alopecia is located on the X chromosome, women must have residual genes for androgenetic alopecia on both X chromosomes in order to develop androgenetic alopecia. men will bald as long as they have such residual genes on a single X chromosome.
The prevalence of androgenetic alopecia is also related to race and age, with Asians having a lower rate than Caucasians. For example, in Taiwan, after 45 years, androgenetic alopecia occurs in about 20% of the population and after 65 years – more than 40%. In Caucasians after 40 years, androgenetic alopecia is observed almost every second.
Iron deficiency anemia
According to Dr. Zhang, in clinical practice, young women usually lose their hair due to iron deficiency anemia. At the same time, a blood test shows that their hemoglobin is below 10 g / dL. The purpose of their visit to the clinic is to treat anemia, but after treatment and medication, hair growth becomes a beneficial side effect.
Dr. Zhang said, “Patients said, ‘Wow, I got the prescription drug and my hair grew so well!'”
After taking iron supplements and foods high in iron, these patients with iron deficiency anemia not only developed hair, but also improved nail growth.
Unhealthy eating habits
It is also common for hair to fall out due to consuming excessive amounts of fried, spicy and / or grilled foods and other unhealthy eating habits.
As the sebaceous glands of the skin are located in the hair follicles, the oil secreted by the sebaceous glands comes out of them. When people eat a lot of unhealthy oil, fried chicken, french fries and other foods that act as irritants, causing inflammation in the body, the sebaceous glands begin to secrete oil differently, which leads to excessive oiliness of the scalp and scalp. turn in hair loss.hair.
On the scalp, there is a type of mold that coexists with the human body – Pityrosporum ovale, which feeds on sebum. With excessive sebum secretion, Pityrosporum ovale multiplies rapidly and causes inflammation of the hair follicles, which also leads to hair loss.
Lack of essential nutrients
In addition to iron, insufficient protein intake or lack of vitamin C, B vitamins, zinc and / or other nutrients also leads to hair loss.
One of the main components of hair is collagen, which makes hair healthy, thick, flexible and strong enough to stand on the scalp. Hair that lacks collagen is like withered grass, thin and weak, dissolving into the scalp.
Dr. Zhang said, “If you want to achieve a lot of hair volume, collagen is very important.”
Too little protein and / or vitamin C intake leads to collagen deficiency. The reason is that protein foods are a source of collagen and vitamin C is a coenzyme for collagen synthesis.
In addition, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid ensure the normal functioning of the hematopoiesis. Hair health is closely related to blood, which brings nutrients and oxygen to the hair.
Mineral zinc is associated with cell growth. All of these, from hair follicle cells to red blood cells, need zinc.
Women usually lose a lot of hair after childbirth, during menopause and other periods of intense hormonal changes. When the hormones in the body return to normal, hair loss problems improve.
Stress and autoimmune diseases
In some people, hair loss is due to an autoimmune disorder or to lymphocytes attacking the hair follicles. This type of hair loss caused by an immune factor can be the result of lupus erythematosus or other autoimmune diseases.
There are also different types of stress hair loss, including gyroid alopecia (macular alopecia). Stress can cause the autoimmune system to attack and destroy the hair follicles of the body itself, leading to hair loss. Stress, genetics and an irregular schedule can easily cause baldness.
3 tips to prevent hair loss
Some types of hair loss can be treated with medication. For example, androgenetic alopecia can be treated with drugs that reduce the production of dihydrotestosterone by the body.
Patients whose hair loss is due to hormonal changes can not currently be treated for hormonal problems. However, they can use methods similar to those for androgenetic alopecia: apply ointments, nutrients and improve their daily lives.
You can also use commercially available anti-hair loss shampoos and hair growth lotions. Such products mainly help to clean the hair follicles, reduce the damage caused by sebum and Pityrosporum ovale and improve the conditions for hair growth.
In addition, there are three more ways to fight hair loss: improve sleep quality, stop smoking and alcohol consumption, and regulate your diet.
Dr. Zhang noted the importance of sleep. He said: “The quality and volume of hair can really vary greatly depending on how well a person sleeps.” One reason is that quality sleep can regulate the body’s response to stress and prevent immune cells from invading the hair follicles.
Smoking and alcohol can cause vascular problems such as vasculitis (hardening of the arteries). Because hair follicles depend on the blood supply for nutrients, problems with the capillaries in the hair follicles will affect hair loss.
When it comes to diet regulation, fried and other inflammatory foods should be avoided so that the hair follicles do not secrete excessive amounts of fat and disrupt the health of blood vessels.
7 nutrients for hair growth
You can also supplement your diet with seven nutrients for better hair growth:
Iron: foods high in heme iron (from animal sources), such as meat and fish.
Foods high in non-heme iron (from plant sources) include celery, seaweed, amaranth tricolor (also known as amaranth), black radish, beans (such as soy, peas and green beans), dried dates, raisins, nuts (such as pumpkin seeds, cashews and almonds) and seeds (such as sesame).
The rate of absorption and utilization of blood iron by the human body is better than that of non-heme iron.
Protein: meat, milk, eggs, seafood, legumes, whole grains.
The main amino acids of collagen are glycine, proline and hydroxyprolin, which are found in the foods mentioned above.
Vitamin C: guava, kiwi, citrus fruits, papaya, strawberries, tomatoes.
Zinc: oysters, crab, mussels, lobster, shellfish, beef, pork, lamb, egg yolk, milk, yogurt, nuts.
Vitamin B6: chickpeas, tuna, salmon, potatoes, bananas, chicken breast, pork liver.
Folic acid (vitamin B9): pork liver, spinach, white rice, asparagus, avocado, broccoli.
Vitamin B12: beef liver, shellfish, tuna, salmon, beef, milk.
Dr. Zhang added that if one wants to eat a type of food that is high in protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid, then one should eat meat. White meat is better than red meat, he added, because although white meat contains less iron than red meat, it is also less likely to cause inflammation.
These nutrients can also be obtained directly from dietary supplements, but improving nutrition generally has greater and longer-term health benefits, Dr. Zhang added.