Generally, human shed between 50-100 hairs a day. Hair shedding is part of the natural balance. New hair will grow to replace the hair fall. However when this balance is interrupted, more hairs are lost than hair growth, a condition known as alopecia (a medical term for baldness) will occur. Hair loss can happen on just your scalp or your entire body. Although hair loss is a fairly common occurrence and can happen to anybody, it is more common in men. It is also more prevalence in adults although teenagers or young children can experience it too. Hair loss may lead to depression, social anxiety and withdrawal symptoms.
Symptoms of Hair Loss
Hair loss can be temporary or permanent, and it appears in many different ways. Signs and symptoms of hair loss may include:
- Gradual thinning of hair on top of the head
- Circular or patchy bald spot that grows slowly
- Thinner ponytail
- Sudden loosening of hair
- Full body hair loss
What Causes Hair Loss
There are a number of factors that causes hair loss, such as:
- Family history of balding. Most baldness is cause by genetics. Both men and women can develop this kind of hair loss, and it is the most common cause of hair loss worldwide. Male pattern hair loss or women pattern hair loss occur due to the inherited genes that leads to a gradual shrinkage of scalp hair follicles. Hair grows progressively shorter and finer until no new hairs grow. This usually occurs gradually and in a predictable pattern.
- Age. With age, most people notice some hair loss because hair growth slows down. At some point when hair follicles stop growing hair, it will cause the hair on our scalp to thin.
- Certain medical condition. There is a variety of conditions that can cause temporary or permanent hair loss, such as hormonal changes due to pregnancy and childbirth, menopause or thyroid problems. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when our immune system attack the cells in our hair follicles, causing them to shrink and slow down hair production.
- Medications. Hair loss can also be side effects of certain medication. Patients undergoing chemotherapy often experience temporary hair loss, and it is reversible when treatment ends.
- Weight loss. Insufficient nutrients intake will lead to vitamin deficiencies that may prevent healthy hair growth.
Role of Vitamin and Minerals in Hair Growth
Micronutrients are major elements in the normal hair follicle cycle. Vitamins and minerals are important for normal cell growth and function and may contribute to hair loss when they are in deficiency. These deficiencies include:
- Zinc. Zinc deficiency will cause hair to break easily and in severe cases will cause hair loss. Studies showed that some patients with hair loss tend to have lower levels of Zinc.
- B Vitamins. Riboflavin (B12), Biotin (B7), Folate (B9) and Vitamin B12 deficiencies have been associated with hair loss. Generally, B Vitamins are involved in various metabolic reactions and help our body to obtain energy and nutrients from the food that we consume. Some studies showed that Biotin helps to stimulate keratin production in hair and cell turnover in the hair follicles, therefore promoting hair growth.
- Iron. Iron deficiency is also one of the causes of hair loss. Red blood cells need iron to carry oxygen throughout our body for normal cell growth and repair, including cells that stimulate hair growth.
- Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps to protect against the oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Damages caused by free radicals can damage and affect the growth of hair, and may cause slow hair growth. Collagen production requires Vitamin C, which is an important part of hair structure. Vitamin C is also important for hair loss associated with iron deficiency as it helps with iron absorption.
- Vitamin D. Vitamin D supplements might play a role in hair loss as studies has shown that patients with alopecia areata have low Vitamin D levels. Correction in Vitamin D levels showed an improvement in hair loss condition.
- Selenium. Although Selenium deficiency is rare, it is necessary for many processes including hair growth and thyroid hormone metabolism.
Tips to Help with Hair Loss
- Be gentle with your hair. Use a detangler and avoid tugging when brushing and combing. Avoid harsh treatment such as hot rollers that might cause damages to your hair.
- Speak to a doctor or hair specialist about medication that might cause hair loss. They may be able to also suggest hair loss treatment that is suitable for you.
- Protect your hair from sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet light.
- Eat a balanced diet. Eating the right food might help to improve hair growth or even slow down the progression. Leafy green vegetables contain nutrients that are essential for healthy hair.
- If you are not able to get sufficient amount of vitamins & minerals from your daily meals to support your hair growth, consider taking some supplements to manage your vitamin and minerals deficiency.
Do note that aside from diet, stress level and safety of hair products may also help to improve overall hair strength and appearance.
- Almohanna, H. M., Ahmed, A. A., Tsatalis, J. P., &Tosti, A. (2019). The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review. Dermatology and therapy, 9(1), 51–70. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6
- WebMD. (n.d.). Does biotin really work for hair loss prevention? WebMD. Retrieved February 11, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/hair-loss/does-biotin-really-prevent-hair-loss Person. (2021, August 17). The 5 best vitamins for hair growth. Healthline. Retrieved February 10, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-vitamins-hair-growth