Hair Loss or thinning hair a problem for you or someone you know?
Is your hair collecting in your brush?
Are you clogging your drain with lost hair?
Or is your scalp showing through your hair?
How about a rapidly advancing forehead or receding hairline ?
Does hair loss run in your family?
Are you plucking gray hairs as fast as they grow?
Do you have “prematurely” gray hair?
Is your hair brittle, lackluster and lifeless?
If so, You are not alone!
Many people struggle with declining hair health and hair loss. There are many options to choose from and their results can be satisfactory.
Unfortunately, few products actually correct the underlying problems that lead to unhealthy hair.
There is plenty of evidence that proper nutrition can improve your hair [and the rest of you].
But, where to start?
Let me digress for a moment with a little background info.
Healthy, vibrant and youthful hair has qualities that we all can appreciate. Whether it’s smooth texture, increased thickness or avoiding loss of natural hair color there are nutrients that can help. Improvement or changes can be seen in a few weeks, however, many will continue to see gains up to a year or more.
Here is a list of things to consider for optimal hair growth and health.
B Vitamin deficiency including Biotin deficiency Vitamin A, D and E imbalances/shortage Essential fatty acid deficiency Mineral Deficiencies [Tin and Manganese] Copper deficiency Excessive Zinc intake (causes relative Copper deficiency) Calcium Metabolism Problems Digestion/Assimilation problems CoEnzyme Q10 deficiency (can be precipitated by STATIN drugs) Adrenal Exhaustion Thyroid problems Thymus gland dysfunction Insulin Resistance
~B Vitamin deficiency
B vitamins are necessary for normal metabolism [again hair growth and pigment are included here]
So, it is easy to imagine shortages of B vitamins leading to various problems; remember for each deficiency there are, on average, 10 symptoms.
B12 – low blood pressure —–let’s say 90/60 will improve to 120/80 in a few weeks with proper supplementation. [Hair metabolism requires it and benefits from optimal levels]
B2 [Riboflavin] – Cheilitis/chapped lips etc -resolves with proper supplementation [activated or co-enzymated versions are best]
B3 [Niacin] – Pellagra [B3 deficiency] Cholesterol problems, rashes and cognitive/psychiatric problems are seen; hair loss as well.
B1 [Thiamine] – Beriberi or Wernicke-Korsakoff —- subtle sx include noise hyper-sensitivity. And slow hair growth.
B6 [Pyridoxine] – Deficiency leads to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Asthma, Kidney Stones and Migraines – “activated” versions are needed for faster action in deficiency [sx can improve in 1 week in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.] Again Hair health suffers, too.
B Vitamins — Long story short,
Sugar depletes B vitamins
There is a continuum — Deficiency [severe-moderate-mild] Adequate Optimal [our goal]
No toxicity for B vitamins [Supposed B6 toxicity is due taking it alone without other B’s]
It is difficult to achieve optimal levels with diet alone [if not impossible]
Taking a good B complex is a good idea [includes all of the above]
Specific B vitamins may be necessary if an overt deficiency exists.
~Biotin deficiency [Biotin – considered part of B Complex]
Seborrheic dermatitis or Cradle cap is caused by biotin a shortage or deficiency of Biotin.
Raw egg whites contain a protein Avidin that binds Biotin. [raw yolks are ok, found in mayo :~]
Deficiency symptoms – scaling rash or fine bumps in skin including scalp
In several animal studies Achromatosis [or pigment loss] was seen as a result of Biotin Deficiency.
~Vitamin A, D and E
Vitamin A and D
Both are important and there is significant deficiency in America today.
Healthy skin depends on Vitamin A or Retinol [from fish oil] [note: beta carotene: we can convert it to retinol it is a slow process subject to “bottle-necking”]
The sentinel symptom for deficiency of vitamin A is dry eyes (where poor night vision comes much later).
FYI: Vitamin A is coupled with vitamin D in most preparations [25,000iu/1,000iu is my favorite but 10,000iu/400iu is more readily available]
I like products that contain Vitamin E with mixed Tocopherols plus Selenium
[never use synthetic Vitamin E aka d-l-tocopherol, it has only 25% activity of d-tocopherol]
Studies show a preventive role of Vitamin E The more vitamin E the lower the rate of heart disease, this convincingly based on two different Harvard studies, one with 40,000 male doctors and another with 100,000 female nurses. Another study of over two thousand patients study showed a 77% reduction in occurrence of heart attacks and deaths from heart disease by 47% .
~Essential fatty acid deficiency
We can make a strong argument that three fat types are essential to healthy hair.
Omega 3’s [flax, fish or krill oil] 3% of our calories need to come from the Omega 3’s [7-14 grams is best per day]
Saturated Fats [Animal fat] Good rule of thumb to remember, the more saturated fat the more Omega 3’s you’ll need.
Cholesterol – eat two eggs per day [see other posts for discussion]
~Mineral Deficiencies [Tin and Manganese]
In the animal/veterinary world it is well described that Tin and Manganese deficiency can lead to hearing loss as well as hair loss.
Short Answer: Plant derived colloidal minerals 1-2 ounces per day [Humic shale colloidal minerals are best]
Copper is needed as a co-factor for hair pigment formation.
It is important to know that Copper and Zinc should be taken together (Too much of one will cause a shortage of the other).
A friend of mine, a 41 yo guy (actually a cousin by marriage) died of an aneurysm after taking Zinc daily for 10 years [without taking Copper].
—-> Copper deficiency can lead to early graying as well as breaking down of elastic fibers with resulting stretch marks, hemorrhoids and even aneurysm [Copper is needed for elastic fiber maintenance as well]
Heavy milk drinkers are at risk of Copper shortage.
Now, I’ll stray a minute to talk about two important and related problems.
Zinc is very important (men are prone to deficiency because we lose ~225mcg per ejaculation). Besides slow wound healing —> key symptoms of deficiency are Prostate problems and Male Pattern Baldness as well as smelly tennis shoe syndrome [there are no odor producing sweat glands on the feet, Merocrine glands – only Halocrine -salt producing version ] and, often, the loss of sense of smell – all of which resolve with return of proper zinc levels.
Take home message: Take Zinc with Copper
~Calcium Metabolism Problems
Few realize that calcium is important for hair health.
A quick recap: Calcium deficiency is very common. The GOOD news is that many associated symptoms, like poor hair health, can be eased or eliminated by improving your Calcium balance.
A quick tip: Avoid dark colas that rob the body of Calcium [one 12 ounce cola contains 1 gram of phosphorus that “binds” or blocks 2 grams of Calcium]
Most everyone can benefit from a Calcium supplement, but which one is best?
Let’s consider the options in Nature where Calcium is found.
1) Dairy [difficult for adults] 2) Large quantities of grass [cows do this we can’t eat 10 pounds/day] 3) Eating other animals [best choice, more on this in a minute] 4) Rocks [like limestone]
Notice that no animals in nature eat rocks for its Calcium, except Humans.
Calcium Carbonate, the most common form of Calcium in supplements, is LIMESTONE. Check your supplement bottle. Let me be clear – Rock-like minerals are around 3% absorbable where animal based minerals like Micro-Crystalline Hydroxy-Apatite [MCHA – derived from cows] is said to be 40-60% absorbable.
Proper digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients are very important.
Symptoms of poor digestion/assimilation include intermittent heartburn, reflux, gas, belching, food intolerance [including fatty food intolerance, dairy intolerance and gluten “allergy”] , delayed digestion as well as bloating and pain. [if symptoms are persistent a medical work-up is advisable]
Again a scale exists for digestion from poor to optimal function.
Taking supplemental enzymes can improve and even optimize this process.
I like products that contain ; Pancreatic enzymes, Betaine HCl and OxBile.
~CoEnzyme Q10 deficiency (can be precipitated by STATIN drugs)
Co-enzyme Q10 is vital for cellular function. We produce a certain amount of CoQ10 but as we age levels drop off.
Statin drugs [Lipitor, Zocor etc] have become notorious in health circles because they inhibit CoQ10 production. In addition, symptoms of CHF [congestive heart failure] are closely related to this depletion. Many doctors recommend CoQ10 supplements should be taken with any statin.
Interestingly enough, I’ve noticed people who take these drugs tend to gray prematurely.
Fatigue and weight gain are also associated with CoQ10 deficiency. One report showed 25% of obese individuals were deficient.
CoQ10, once expensive, is now quite affordable.
I take 400mg twice a day [100 mg twice a day is a meaningful dose]
Primary symptoms include increase in allergy symptoms, sweaty palms and easy startling. In addition, I’ve seen women with irregular menstruation and infertility due to adrenal exhaustion or fatigue. [With vitamin C alone I’ve seen menstrual cycles return to normal].
Two key players here: Vitamin C and Cholesterol Vitamin C Cholesterol
We can only manufacture 20% of the cholesterol we need, so it must be in the diet.
Short answer 2-3 eggs per day.
I put 2 egg yolks in my shake in the morning (raw egg yolks are in Mayo); I simply discard the egg whites.
Raw egg whites inhibit Biotin absorption leading to deficiency.
Most of us are familiar that if you thyroid is out of whack an initial signal is hair problems.
If your body temperature is 97.8 or less you are likely short on IODINE. The thyroid gland must have Iodine, a mineral, to function properly. [Normal range is usually considered 98.6 to 99.4]
~ Use Iodized salt [my favorite is Morton’s LITE SALT which is 50% Sodium chloride and 50% Potassium chloride….”killing three birds…” so to speak by getting Sodium and Potassium plus Iodine] or you can get a supplement of Potassium Iodide, avoid kelp it’s not as usable by the body.
~ Salt your food to taste. It a persistent medical myth that salt is bad for you If you swell/retain fluid when you eat salt you are probably calcium deficient. My experience has been that salt sensitivity will resolve after one week of proper calcium supplementation. [look for MCHA as calcium source]
~ Sodium/Salt is necessary to make stomach acid. Stomach acid is required for proper absorption of MINERALS [Calcium and Iron, esp], Protein/Amino Acids and B vitamins [B12 in particular]
~Thymus gland dysfunction
The Thymus gland educates the T cells in our immune system but as we age the Thymus shrinks. Gray hair has been associated with this declining function.
What can we do?
Taking a glandular extract may help augment Thymus function.
~Insulin Resistance (Chromium deficiency)
If you have a “sweet tooth” or craving for starches you may benefit from Chromium.
If you are insulin resistant you’ll shunt protein away from areas that need it [normal hair production can suffer].
In diabetes and insulin resistance there are elevated insulin levels. Insulin tells the liver to turn glucose into fat. Fat cannot be converted back to glucose/sugar. When additional glucose is needed the liver makes it from protein.
Chromium is a very safe. It is an essential trace mineral. The EPA has set the safe upper exposure limit at 70,000 mcg per day. Chromium actually increases in insulin sensitivity and binding while increasing the number of insulin receptors as well. In studies people who took Chromium actually lost fat while gaining muscle without exercise…. ( I don’t like advertising the no exercise part)
The approach to healthy hair should part of a bigger plan for overall health and optimal function.
As I have said before there are baseline nutrients we ALL need, however some will require additional supplementation as symptoms of deficiency are evident. Message me with questions or concerns
Here’s a quick list of supplements I recommend.
If there are 90 nutrients that we can say are ESSENTIAL then let’s try to improve our chances of optimizing them.
We can categorize nutrients into 5 groups. 1) Minerals 2) Vitamins 3) Amino Acids/Protein 4) Oils/Fats 5) Vita-Nutrients
Remember, if a nutrient is “essential” we will experience deficiency symptoms if it is lacking in our diets or supplements.
1) Get a good multiple vitamin/mineral product. Versions with “Chelated” minerals are best. I also like those with some plant based vitamins.
2) Take a quality Calcium product. Look for MCHA as the calcium source and one that includes Magnesium, vitamin D and some assorted trace minerals.
3) Take Omega 3 oils. Flax oil is the best to start. Adding Krill or fish oil later [BTW – Krill oil in the container has a distinctive odor – if you place 3-4 desiccant packs in the bottle and refrigerate it, the odor is gone in 12 hours]
4) Find a good Colloidal mineral product for trace minerals. Make sure it’s from Humic shale and NOT ionic minerals. Humic shale is the fossilized remains of the dinosaur days – plant based and 98% absorbed.
5) Try to find a Glucosamine Chondroitin and MSM product [bovine source is best] to protect your joints.
6) Consider taking extra Vitamin C [products with rose hips also contain the Bioflavonoids from the natural C family]. I prefer capsules over tablets. Chewable versions can mottle teeth – not good.
As always, message me or leave comments with questions or concerns.