Causes of hair loss can be many. But here we have discussed only dietary causes as a healthy individual experiencing hair fall, main cause is nutritional deficiencies. Hair loss, also known as alopecia is one of the biggest problem. Almost every woman suffers hair problems at least once in a lifetime. Usually, both men and women suffer from hair loss but it is more frustrating in women. After all our society is still unable to accept a bald woman socially than a bald man. In fact, pattern hair loss in women highly affects their self-esteem and starts breaking them emotionally.
What actually is hair loss?
In general, if we see even little amount of hair loss we start panicking but it is not hair loss. In fact, shedding of hair up to certain limit is normal. Fall of up to 100 hairs per day is normal. But if it accelerates from this limit then it would be a matter of concern. This fixed amount of hair fall occurs just only to replace the old hair follicles with new ones.
What are the symptoms of hair loss?
Answer to this question might sound quite simple, but it is not as simple as you think. Interesting thing is that we can predict the events of hair loss before going through the actual hair loss. If you are experiencing these symptoms you must consult your dermatologist.
Following symptoms should not go unnoticed.
• Decrease in hair density – This can be seen as thinning of hairs which is one of the most common symptom of hair loss.
• Scaly patches on head – This usually occurs due to any underlying skin disease like scalp psoriasis. Many other diseases can also lead to patches.
• Itching or burning scalp – Most probably if you are suffering from itchy scalp you are experiencing infection.
• Loosening of Hair – Mostly observed in female pattern hair loss.
What are the dietary causes of hair loss?
→Vitamin deficiencies or toxicity
Here we have listed all the types of vitamin whose inadequate, either excess or less amount can cause or stimulate hair fall.
Reason of hair fall can be due to an specific vitamin deficiency or multiple vitamin deficiency. So to know which single or multiple vitamin is causing your hair fall, either check the deficiency symptoms of each vitamin or consult a dermatologist which will help you in knowing the real cause by observing and performing some tests. Knowing daily required dose of each vitamin and mineral is also mandatory if you are taking any multi-vitamin supplements.
• Vitamin A overdose
Both overdose and deficiency of vitamin A cause changes in normal functioning of hair follicle. Over dose of vitamin A cause more hair loss than its deficiency. Deficiency of vitamin A is more observed in developing countries. Most visible symptoms of vitamin A deficiency is dry hair, along with night blindness.
Sources of vitamin A include green leafy vegetables, eggs, dairy products, carrot, sweet potato and pumpkins.
•Vitamin B Complex Deficiency
Vitamin B is a water soluble complex consisting of group of 8 nutrients. – thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate or folic acid (B9), and cyanocobalamin (B12). Although in hair loss context vitamin B deficiency is rare except for biotin. Out of these 8 vitamin B substances only vitamin B2, B7, B9, and B12 deficiencies are linked with hair loss. Do not take vitamin B supplements unless prescribed by physician as the deficiency of Vitamin B is rare and our body takes enough dose of vitamin B from general foods. Each of them are discussed separately with their sources.
(i) Riboflavin (vitamin B2) Deficiency
Though direct effect of riboflavin deficiency on hair loss needs more researches but riboflavin makes link with iron absorption and in chemical reactions of other vitamin b complex nutrients which shows its significance in hair related problems. Deficiency of riboflavin results in hair loss and skin problems. Some good sources of vitamin B2 are asparagus, mushroom and yoghurt.
(ii) Biotin (Vitamin B7) Deficiency
Biotin is the most common and influential factor in hair loss among Vitamin B complex and that’s why biotin is one of the most common vitamin supplement sold online for hair loss remedy purpose. Biotin helps in the creation of keratin from which outer hair and nails are made up of. Sources of biotin are peanuts, banana, sweet potato, eggs, etc.
(iii) Folate (vitamin B9) Deficiency
Folate or folic acid deficiency results into hair fall along with greying and thinning of air, sebum gland won’t work properly so hair of scalp will not get moisturized perfectly, leading to dry hair. Its deficiency can also lead to anemia. Broccoli, citrus fruits and beans are some good sources of folate.
If you stick to veg diet particularly plant based food then you are more likely to be vitamin B12 deficient. Cyanocobalamin helps in RBC and hemoglobin production ultimately results into better oxygen transport and enough amount of oxygen provides strength to hair follicles preventing their fall. Other symptoms of this vitamin’s deficiency are neuropathy, fatigue and blurred vision. Those with under diabetic medication are at more risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, and one of the catchy symptom is burning sensation in foot and nerve damage. Sources of Vitamin B12 are dairy products, meat and eggs.
(iv) Cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12) Deficiency
• Vitamin C deficiency
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid, deficiency of this vitamin is directly linked to reduction in iron absorption from intestine. So either the cause of your hair loss is iron deficiency or vitamin C deficiency you would have to take this vitamin as supplements. Other deficiency symptoms of vitamin C are dry and breaking hair, bleeding of gums, long duration in healing wound. Our body does not make vitamin c so we need it from foods or fruits that provide it like orange(citrus fruits), broccoli, peppers and kiwi fruit.
• Vitamin D deficiency
Besides maintaining proper amount of calcium and phosphorus, vitamin D also has significant role in creating new hair follicles and maintaining healthy skin. Low levels of vitamin D can cause alopecia, that results hair fall and new hair growth stop. Reasons for low level of vitamin D in the body can be low or no exposure to sunlight, using too much sunblock item or any disease. Daily 20 to 30 minutes of basking is enough to maintain the vitamin D balance in body. Hair loss, muscle and bone pain (mostly back pain), decreased bone density and fatigue are some common deficiency symptoms of vitamin D. Sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon, egg yolks and few dairy products like fortified milks, etc.
• Vitamin E Deficiency
Antioxidant properties of vitamin E are popular that supports shiny hair growth in addition to keeping skin healthy. Vitamin E helps in improving the blood circulation of scalp that helps in providing nutrients properly to hair cells needed for its growth in case of its deficiency hair starts falling. Dry skin, dry hair, numbness and tingling sensation of feet can be the signs of vitamin E deficiency. You can get vitamin E oils for shiny hair and massage from it, similarly using shampoo and conditioner containing vitamin E can help countering its deficiency, also nuts, seeds and green vegetables contain good amount of vitamin E.
→ Minerals Deficiency
Deficiency of vitamin and minerals can closely link, like, deficiency of vitamin C can cause deficiency of iron. Zinc, Iron, and Selenium are the primary minerals whose deficiencies show their impact on hair fall, dull and damaged hair.
• Zinc Deficiency
Zinc is an essential element, you have to supply it through diet as body can not synthesize it on its own. Consuming less or no meat, poor absorption, and reducing dietary intake can be the cause of zinc deficiency. Zinc helps in hair tissue growth and repair deficiency of which cause hair loss. If you experience a loss or a poor sense of smell and taste, poor wound healing, diarrhea, skin diseases along with hair loss then you may be zinc deficient. Oysters, meat, and legumes are good sources of zinc. If your deficiency is severe taking zinc supplements will help.
• Iron deficiency
Iron deficiency is the major nutrient deficiency in the world, especially in females, and hair loss is its primary symptom. Iron deficiency also causes anemia, which stops RBC from transporting oxygen to all body cells including hair cells. The main reason for iron loss in females can be menstruation or heavy blood loss during periods. Blood tests from a lab can confirm the low levels of iron in your body then your physician may prescribe you a good iron supplement. Salmon fish, spinach, and peas are natural foods to increase the iron level.
• Some other minerals deficiency like selenium, magnesium, and copper might also cause hair fall. But deficiency of these minerals is rare. Not only deficiency but overdose (toxicity) of minerals and vitamins can also cause hair loss. Like both deficiency and toxicity of vitamin A and selenium can cause hair loss.