Nutrient Deficiencies Can Cause Hair Loss
In general, hair needs adequate amounts of protein, essential fats, and other nutrients to stay healthy. Just like any other part of your body, diet deficiencies can have a negative impact and contribute to hair thinning or loss. 2 In fact, recent advances in chemical analysis tools, combined with the ideal structure of hair, suggest that hair can reveal a person’s nutritional and health history. 36 Studies have already shown that hair proteins reflect dietary protein sources and internal metabolic processes by identifiable effects on the proteins. 36
Other than simply not eating enough, other factors that can affect proper nutrition and hair health include: 32
- medical conditions that cause poor absorption of nutrients (e.g., cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, and chronic renal failure)
- illness that increases nutrient requirements (e.g., thyroid, heart, and lung diseases)
- poor diet choices
- inadequate protein intake
- medication that affects how nutrients are absorbed and metabolized
Increased Risk of Malnourishment with Age
Essential nutrients may become even more of a factor in hair loss as we age. Studies suggest that even in a comparatively wealthy, industrialized country like the United States up to 50% of the elderly population do not take in the recommended amounts of nutrients on a daily basis, and up to 30% have below normal levels systemically. In addition to the factors mentioned above, age-related issues also help explain why malnourishment is particularly prevalent in older people: 32
- naturally reduced appetite seen in the elderly—probably due to hormonal and neurotransmitter changes, as well as decreased sense of smell and taste
- inadequate income leads to skipped or poor-quality meals
- social isolation can lead to depression and apathy about food
- physical and cognitive impairments
Because hair follicles are composed of highly active cells, they are naturally more sensitive to nutritional deficiencies. Inadequate intake and absorption of essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other trace elements not only slows down the growth of healthy hair, it contributes to hair loss and greying of the hair. 32
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Such as alpha-linolenic acid.
Hair proteins are resistant to degradation once formed.