Thick, voluminous hair is viewed as a sign of vitality and youthfulness. But what happens when your hair starts to thin? Or worse- when others notice and comment on your hair loss? Your hair doesn’t just affect your looks- it’s often an indicator of your health as well. Sometimes noticeable hair loss is due to nutrient deficiencies. Other times, it may be a sign of a more serious condition. Discover what could be causing your hair loss and how to prevent it:
- Check your nutrient/ vitamin levels. Inadequate protein consumption and low iron is a common cause of hair thinning. Besides protein and iron, other vital nutrients that support a healthy hair and scalp include silica, biotin, zinc, folate, vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids. Many people think they eat a healthy, well balanced diet when in fact, certain key nutrients may be missing or they may have digestive issues which prevent their bodies from absorbing nutrients. Moreover, studies show that people on certain diets or diet plans are more likely to be deficient in micronutrients, while others may simply not know how to eat a nutritiously balanced diet. If you are wondering about your nutrient status, talk to your doctor about testing for nutrient levels (for iron, remember to check for ferritin levels). Looking for a hair-boosting supplement? Consult a licensed naturopathic doctor on proper dosages of these nutraceuticals- the amount found in multivitamins are generally not enough for therapeutic effects.
- Could it be a medical condition? Could your hair loss be the result of a scalp infection like ringworm? Could it be a thyroid imbalance such as hypothyroidism (a condition in which you may also feel sluggish/ tired and have unexplained weight gain)? Other causes of hair loss include PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), iron-deficiency anemia and autoimmune conditions such as alopecia areata or SLE (lupus).
- Is it the drug you’re taking? Certain pharmaceutical medications may also cause hair loss or balding as a side effect. These include Accutane (isotretinoin), Naproxen, Zantac (ranitidine) and drugs used to treat heart problems, cancer, hormone-related issues and depression.
- Another culprit may be environmental toxins. Ongoing exposure to heavy metals such as mercury may result in hair loss which becomes gradually more apparent. Toxins in our environment cause hair loss by disrupting basic cellular functions in the body, thereby interfering with hormone production and regulation, as well as other vital processes. Talk to your doctor if you want to get heavy metal testing done.
- As people age, hair generally thins out. Usually, it is more apparent as men enter andropause and as women enter menopause. Click here to read more about premature aging and how to prevent it.
- Temporary hair loss can occur after pregnancy, major surgery or sudden drastic weight loss. It may also occur after a period of extreme stress or as a result of hair-pulling (click here to read my case of the disappearing eyebrows).
If you notice your hair thinning, you should first rule out any underlying health conditions. Whether the culprit is a hormonal imbalance, medical condition or heavy toxic load, Dr. Yik can help you address the cause, not just the symptoms. If you recently underwent an intense period of stress, be sure to replenish your system using adaptogens and nutraceuticals to minimize the effects of stress on your body. Click here to learn more about stress and premature aging. And lastly, before reaching for Rogaine (minoxidil), Propecia (finasteride) or a wig, ensure that your body has all the building blocks for healthy, strong hair.