Few things are more irritating cosmetically than hair loss in women.  There is usually one patient a day at least whose main concern is hair loss, and is asking about how to stop hair loss or solutions for hair loss in women.  There is a lot of information on the internet about what vitamins and minerals are best for nourishing your hair.  Hair is the last item on the body to receive nourishment, so if there are some vitamins and minerals lacking in your diet, your hair will never receive what it needs to grow well.  I will review the recommendations that have scientific validity.

My own personal battle of hair loss is a common enough story.  I had great hair in my early twenties.  There was some thinning in my 30s, not too noticeable since I wore my hair short.  After two pregnancies and breast feeding back to back, I had diffuse hair loss.  I had the typical post-partum hair loss, but I continued to loose hair diffusely.  The hair that is growing back is of a much finer texture, wispy and very unmanageable.  Over the last year and a half I have tried different vitamins, supplements, and topical hair care products with no significant results.  I aim to find the right combination of vitamins, minerals and topical products.  This will be the basis for natural remedies for hair loss in women I recommend.  My posts will have updates on what specifically I am trying and what is working.

Proteins for hair growth:

Protein – our hair is made from a protein called keratin.  Therefore, we need to eat enough high quality protein to make enough keratin.   The protein we eat is broken down into amino acids which are the building blocks of our bodies.  The following amino acids are involved in making hair.

  • Cysteine: Keratin is made mostly from this amino acid.  Cysteine gives skin elasticity and helps in production of collagen.  Cysteine is found in eggs, poultry, nuts, beans, fish and brewers yeast.  As a supplement, it needs to be taken with triple amount of vitamin C for oxidation issues.
  • N-acetyl Cysteine (NAC): more stable form of cysteine that will not oxidize and is a strong antioxidant.  It is known to help prevent hair loss, nurture hair growth and increase diameter of hair shaft.  Take equal amounts of vitamin C and NAC.
  • Methionine: another robust antioxidant that supports hair and nails by preventing hair loss and improving the texture of skin and nails.  Sources of methionine are pumpkin and sunflower seeds, fish, lentils, milk, meat and eggs.

Fats for hair growth:

Healthy fats make luxurious, shiny hair

  • wild caught salmon, mackerel and tuna
  • brazil nuts, almonds, and walnuts
  • eggs
  • avocadoes
  • omega 3 fatty acids

Minerals for hair growth:

The following are the most common mineral imbalances that contribute to unexplained hair loss in women

  • Copper – too little or too much will cause hair loss.  Most people have excessive copper, which causes dry hair and diffuse hair loss. Vegetarians are at higher risk of copper excess.  Taking appropriate amount of zinc helps balance copper absorption.
  • Iron – most menstruating women are slightly iron deficient.  An easy lab test called ferritin will tell you if you need more iron in your diet.  Your ferritin level needs to be over 70 to make new hair. Eat iron rich foods with foods with vitamin C for the best absorption.  Avoid iron inhibiting foods.
  • Magnesium – most americans have a magnesium deficient diet.  Magnesium is very important for our body to function correctly, it helps with blood pressure, improves blood sugar levels and gives energy to our cells.  Deficiencies contribute to hair loss.  Food sources are nuts, seeds, legumes and spinach
  • Manganese – necessary for the body to utilize zinc and biotin.   Deficiencies show up as poor skin, poor nail growth and poor hair growth.  Food sources are meat and chicken, fish, seeds, nuts, beans, peas, avocados, eggs.
  • Selenium – very important essential element in healthy thyroid function, it is also found in hair.  It is an antioxidant that is necessary for hair and skin health.  Do not take over 400 mcgs per day.  Food sources: brazil nuts, oysters and fish, kelp, garlic, and sesame seeds.
  • Silicon – primary component of collagen and therefore necessary for healthy hair, skin and nails.  It is derived from herb horsetail and available as a supplement.  Dietary sources are whole grains, cucumber skins, beets, soybeans and bell peppers.
  • Sulphur – used for smooth skin, hair and nails.  Also known as the “beauty mineral.”  Food sources are onions, eggs and garlic
  • Zinc – necessary for proper immune system function and thyroid function.  Too little causes hair loss, sparse/course hair growth and skin disorders.  If you have white spots on your nails you likely have a zinc deficiency. Dietary sources are spinach, mushrooms, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, meat, poultry, oysters and legumes. How much zinc should you take?  Here is a good site listing zinc amounts

Vitamins for Hair Growth:

  • Vitamin A – fat soluble vitamin normalizes sebaceous glands in skin and scalp. Deficiency symptoms are frequent infections, broken fingernails, and dry skin and hair. Food sources: yellow and orange vegetables, leafy greens, egg yolks, sweet potatoes, and liver.
  • Biotin – known as the hair vitamin, this vitamin B is used for hair loss, graying hair, skin and nails.  Too little biotin results in fungal infections, seborrheic scalp conditions, and rashes. Dietary sources: chicken, cauliflower, egg yolk, cheese, and liver.
  • Folic Acid – necessary for appropriate blood flow and oxygen supply to scalp and face.  A deficiency will cause eyelashes, eyebrows and hair to fall out.  Also, premature graying occurs.  Sources in diet: beans, leafy greens, oranges and peas.
  • Niacin – a vasodilator that improves circulation throughout the body and scalp.  This increased blood supply nourishes the follicles.  It also helps nervous conditions and cholesterol.  Food sources: almonds, avocados, bananas, eggs, milk, meat.
  • Pantothenic acid – an antioxidant that helps the body utilize nutrients from vitamins and our food.  Necessary for appropriate adrenal activity and helps with stress, fatigue, and nerve disorders.  Good sources: avocado, broccoli, egg yolk, chicken, fish, liver, milk and mushrooms.
  • Vitamin D3 – almost all patients I test are deficient due to our eating habits and sunscreen use.  Blood test will reveal your level and should be between 70 – 100.  vitamin D3 is actually a prohormone that helps absorption of calcium.
  • Vitamin B12 – not as well known as for hair support.  A blood test again will reveal your level, it should be around 700
  • Vitamin C – an anti-oxidant that helps create red blood cells and is involved in collagen formation of body tissues. Helps maintain capillaries that bring blood and oxygen to hair.  Too little creates dull, brittle hair.  Great food sources: citrus fruits, broccoli, green pepper, tomatoes.
  • Vitamin E – improves texture of hair and skin by increasing oxygen uptake via scalp circulation.  Beneficial food sources: avocadoes, almonds, green leafy vegetables, nuts, salmon, and seeds.
  • Riboflavin – another B vitamin that encourages healthy hair and scalp.  Deficiencies in this vitamin mean other deficiencies in B vitamins as well as excess sebum.  Sources: asparagus, broccoli, cheddar cheese, almonds, milk, halibut, and spinach.
  • Chorella – fresh water algae.  It is a complete protein containing all of the essential amino acids as well as beta-carotene, nucleic acids, all the B vitamins, zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium, iodine and potassium. It helps detoxify body and get rid of heavy metals.  Eat only cracked-cell wall variety produced under pristine conditions.