It happened to me 10 years ago.
I was sitting in bed watching TV and enjoying a bowl of popcorn, when I reached for the back of my head to scratch an itch. I ran my fingers up the nape of my neck and right around the bottom of my skull, felt a bald patch.
This couldn’t be happening. Not in my early 30s. Not to me.
I went to the bathroom, turned my back to the mirror, grabbed a compact and held it right by where I had felt the bald spot. And there it was – smooth like a baby’s bottom, about the size of a quarter.
I was horrified.
What had happened? Was I slowly going bald?
Hair plays such a big part in how we see and feel about ourselves. It gives us confidence and can reflect on the outside, the type of person we are on the inside. A thick head of shiny hair is a sign of youth, so when we experience hair loss, it can be traumatic and emotional.
Up to 55% of women will experience hair loss at some point in their lives, while 85% of men will have to deal with major hair thinning by the time they turn 50. Hair loss is such a common problem that the hair care industry is pushing all kinds of ‘miracle cures’ claiming to thicken and/or regrow hair. Whether they work or not is debatable, but there is one thing we know for sure – it’s a very expensive treatment to opt for.
So what gives? Why are so many of us losing hair? Is it all due to our genes or are there ways to prevent hair loss?
Well, I’ve got some good news for you because it turns out that some types of hair loss can be cured with a simple change in your dietary habits. Vitamin deficiency is one of the causes for hair loss. So before spending hundreds of dollars on hair thickening shampoos and treatments, why not try adding these five vitamins to your daily regimen.
*Always consult your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet, especially if you are taking any medication.
BAD NUTRITION = HAIR LOSS
It’s a well known fact that eating a diet that’s high in saturated fats and low in nutrients can be problematic for the skin. But it should also be mentioned that a poor diet can also have detrimental effects on hair. Bad nutrition can lead to inflammation which causes hair loss. For healthy hair to grow, it’s essential for each strand to have good blood circulation and receive plenty of nutrients to stay thick and strong.
That’s when adding supplements to your diet comes in. Supplements can aid in hair growth by reducing inflammation, fighting free radicals and strengthening the immune system.
B-Complex vitamins are essential to healthy hair. While vitamin B-5 stimulates hair growth at the adrenal glands, biotin is great at repairing damaged hair from too much sun exposure, blow-drying and shampooing. You can take one B-complex vitamin a day or one biotin and one B-5 separately. Eating eggs, nuts, beans, potatoes and avocados on a regular basis is also recommended in order to avoid B-vitamin deficiency.
Fish Oil (Omega-3)
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oil, are known to reduce inflammation which causes skin and hair disorders. When your scalp is inflamed, it hinders the blood flow to the hair follicles. This eventually leads to hair loss. Taking one to two supplements a day can help reduce the inflammation and promote better blood circulation. If you are taking blood-thinning medication regularly, speak to your doctor before taking fish oil since it might increase bleeding. Foods high in Omega-3 fats include hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, salmon, tuna, sardines, natto, egg yolk and walnuts.
According to research, many people who have alopecia areata (circular bald patches) suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. The good news is you can boost your vitamin D intake by just going outside for 10-15 minutes. What this does is stimulate the hair follicle and activate the cells within the hair shaft. Of course, too much direct sun exposure can lead to skin cancer so make sure to only stay out for short periods of time. It’s very hard to get enough vitamin D into your system from just eating food, however fish and mushrooms do contain higher levels of it.
Not enough iron, especially in women, can lead to alopecia areata and telogen effluvium (sudden loss of hair due to high levels of stress). One study suggests that women between the ages of 15 and 45, with an iron deficiency, were more likely to experience hair loss. Taking a daily multivitamin and adding iron rich foods such as spinach, kale, egg yolks, lentils, navy beans, dark chocolate, broccoli and tofu can boost hair growth.
Zinc does wonders to hair. It speeds up the follicle recovery and inhibits their regression. Zinc is a mineral that’s vital for beautiful hair, skin and nails. When there is a deficiency, deterioration of the protein structure begin to happen and lead to weak hair follicles, shedding and hair loss. A crash diet or diet low in calories can also make you deficient in zinc. To make sure you get enough zin on a daily basis, take a daily supplement or add foods such as sweet potatoes, spinach chickpeas, nuts, oysters and eggs.
Other ways to promote hair growth
Boost Collagen Production With Vitamin C
Collagen is what keeps our bones strong and joints supple. It’s what allows our skin to expand and contract without any damage. Collagen is the glue that holds everything together and what also makes our hair strong. When we age our bodies produce less collagen, resulting in the appearance of wrinkles, stiffer joints and loss of hair color. Getting plenty of vitamin C adds hydrogen and oxygen to the amino acids within the collagen. The interaction between vitamin C and amino acids is what produces collagen. If you don’t get enough vitamin C, collagen production will decline. Take a vitamin C supplement and stock up on foods such as red bell peppers, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kale and kiwi.
Rosemary Essential Oil
Applying rosemary essential oil to the scalp can stimulate hair growth and slow down graying. In fact, according to a study done in Japan at Kinki University, rosemary essential oil can be as effective as hair growth medications – minus the side effects and the itchy burning sensation. We like that!
Good blood circulation is essential to hair growth. The better the blood flow to the scalp, the healthier the hair. The great thing about this is you can do it by yourself and it doesn’t cost a penny! Take an extra 5 minutes in the shower to gently massage your scalp or do it while you watch television or are relaxing in bed.
What my hair looks like now
As for me, you’ll be happy to know that all of my hair is back.
What caused my hair loss was a mix of vitamin deficiency and high levels of stress. At that time I was neglecting my health and also worrying about my career and finances. Feeling that bald patch on the back of my head made me realize I needed to make some changes.
The first thing I did was massage the bald area every day for a couple of weeks. I spent a few minutes every morning, afternoon and night rubbing the spot to ensure proper blood flow. It didn’t take too long before I started feeling baby hairs growing back and the patch was gone in less than two months!
Since that scary episode I’ve made a some changes to my lifestyle: I make an effort to go out every day, even if it’s just for a quick stroll. I do yoga regularly to help keep my level of stress under control and take a multivitamin first thing in the morning. I also take biotin and fish oil supplements, and sprinkle ground flaxseed and hemp seeds on my yogurt, daily.
And you know the craziest part?
My hair is thicker and shinier than it’s ever been! That’s all thanks to a healthy diet and a more relaxed lifestyle – age has nothing to do with it!