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Cartoon images of a mother at mid-day with her hair frazzled or falling all around her is closer to reality than most moms would like to admit. Although little is known about nutritional factors and hair-loss, studies have revealed “hair shedding” is commonly linked to women and is associated with: protein-energy malnutrition, hypothyroidism, starvation, eating disorders, stress, or a form of Alopecia (balding, that needs to be under a physicians care).
Hair shedding in women is generally a reflection of the individuals nutrition status. Several studies have examined the relationship between iron deficiency and hair loss. As noted by The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, “We believe that treatment for hair loss is enhanced when iron deficiency, with or without anemia, is treated. Iron deficiency anemia should be treated. Treating iron deficiency without anemia is controversial. Treatment of nutritional iron deficiency anemia includes adequate dietary intake and oral iron supplementation. Excessive iron supplementation can cause iron overload and should be avoided. ” 1 (J Am Acad Dermatol.)
Researchers as recently as 40 years ago, demonstrated the importance of iron supplements in nonanaemic, iron-deficient women with hair loss. Additionally, serum ferritin concentrations provide a good assessment of an individual’s iron status and seem to be a factor in female hair loss. Furthermore, the role of the essential amino acid, l-lysine (protein) in hair loss also appears to be important. Double-blind data confirmed the findings of an open study in women with increased hair shedding, where a significant proportion of women responded to “l-lysine and iron therapy”. 2 (Clin Exp Dermatol.) One should be warned that excessive intakes of nutritional supplements may actually cause hair loss and are not recommended in the absence of a proven deficiency.
The most effective way to get healthy hair is to have a healthy diet. Components of the hair follicle, shaft and scalp require certain foods that make your hair healthy and strong. Studies show that by incorporating foods in your day-to-day diet from the following groups you could notice a difference in your hair within a few weeks.
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is important for healthy hair.
Water: One-fourth of the weight, of a strand of hair, is made up of water. Water makes your hair supple and soft therefore you should have enough water. Do not wait till you are thirsty keep drinking water. If you thirsty it means that you have lost water and your body is asking you to replenish the loss. Water keeps your hair silky and shiny as well.
Protein: A diet for healthy hair should be rich in protein as hair consists of primarily protein. Proteins will give your hair more strength and will prevent it from breaking and splitting. Eat protein rich foods like eggs (The Egg! A complete Protein!), fish, meat, milk, cheese and cereals. For additional Protein Tips go to: Depressed? Food for Thought: Natural Mood Enhancers
Minerals: A variety of minerals are important for healthy hair. Iron carries oxygen to the hair. Insufficient iron will starve the hair follicles of oxygen. Include red meat and dark green vegetable in your diet, as well as, fresh vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Vitamins: Vitamin A makes your scalp healthy and is good for your skin as well. Is associated with orange fruits and vegetables. Vitamin B and C for hair growth. Include these vitamins in your diet to avoid hair from splitting.
Exercise: Along with a healthy diet it is important that you exercise so that proper blood flow to your scalp and will help in the growth of hair.
Protein: Is found in meat, fish, poultry, milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt, sunflower seeds etc.
Vitamin A: Is found in eggs, milk, carrots, tomatoes, oily fish, dark green leafy vegetables, apricots etc.
Vitamin B: Found in milk, eggs, wholegrain cereals, bread, wheat germs, nuts, soy beans, poultry, fish, meat etc.
Vitamin D: Sunlight, fish liver oils, oily fish, milk and eggs etc.
Vitamin C: Found in bright colored fruits and vegetables: blackcurrant, green peppers, citrus fruits, bananas, avocados, artichokes, leafy green vegetables etc.
Vitamin E: Found wheat germ, peanuts, vegetable oils, green leafy vegetables etc.
Iron: Found spinach, liver, lentils, beans, peas, dried fruit etc.
Calcium: Found cheese, nuts, eggs, milk, yogurt, sardines, root vegetables etc.
Iodine: Found in seafood, iodized salt etc.
Sulphur: Found eggs, meat, cheese, dairy products etc.
A mother with frazzled hair shown in a cartoon image will continue to get laughs, but with a bit of knowledge and a well balanced diet we can avoid the embarrassment of hair-loss and begin to enjoy the laughter around us.
By: Kimberly Crocker
1. Trost LB, Bergfeld WF, Calogeras E. The diagnosis and treatment of iron deficiency and its potential relationship to hair loss. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006 May;54(5):903-6.
2. Rushton DH School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK. firstname.lastname@example.org PMID: 12190640 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Clin Exp Dermatol. 2002 Jul;27(5):396-404..