Question:

Hello! I would really like to know what I can do to keep my hair from falling out. I seem to have had thinning hair that falls out easily for as long as I can remember. What is the best nutrient for hair regrowth, and how can I prevent it from falling out in the first place? Thank you!

-Melanie K.

Answer:

There are several nutrients necessary for healthy hair, the fastest growing tissue in the body. What action to take for regrowing hair would depend on the cause of the hair loss. Rarely due to a nutritional deficiency, alopecia often results from stress, medications, hormonal changes, and certain medical conditions. Thinning of head hair is associated with genetics and aging. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends seeing a clinician to determine the cause of hair loss and offers tips on preventing loss.1 

If a nutritional balance is to blame, the likely culprits are a deficiency of iron, zinc, or protein. Additionally, niacin deficiency, sudden weight loss, over supplementation, and essential fatty acid deficiency may be suspect.2 The best sources of problem nutrients include beef, pork, lamb, shellfish, fatty fish, poultry, eggs, beans/legumes, oatmeal and avocados. See our previous Healthy Living Blog article on targeting certain foods for hair growth. 

Providing adequate essential nutrients will help stimulate hair follicles but focus on food first.3 Don’t supplement without first knowing that you need to. Toxicity of minerals and fat-soluble vitamins more readily occurs via supplements than from food. You can actually promote hair loss with too much vitamin A! 

References: 

1) “Hair Loss: Tips for Managing” https://www.aad.org/managing-tips 

2) Guo EL, Katta R. Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatology Practical & Conceptual. 2017;7(1):1–10. Published 2017 Jan 31. doi:10.5826/dpc.0701a01 

3) Jessica Levings. Hair Growth Supplements. Today’s Dietitian. Sept, 2017; 19 (9): 40 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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