Hair Loss – It’s time we found a cure!

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Beautiful, shiny and healthy hair is a sign of good general health. Majority of people obtain sufficient amounts of nutrients and healthy ingredients from their daily diet to maintain their hair. The population as a whole tends to have quite healthy hair, however, in some cases there is a lack of certain essential nutrients (either due to diet or actual health problems), which can lead to weak and lifeless hair.

It is commonly thought that thick and healthy hair holds great aesthetic appeal, in order to maintain as such, relying on genetics is a dangerous game. It is vital to ensure that you have an adequate and regular nutritional intake of certain nutrients to keep your hair looking luscious and healthy.

Mechanism of hair growth

Hair is often described as “dead”, however it has a living component, which lies under the skin where the root is located inside the follicle. This is where hair all its nutrients from the bloodstream. This is why various health issues such as stress, medical conditions, trauma, smoking, alcohol and a poor diet can have a negative effect on the growth of hair as they all have a direct effect on the body’s vascular composition.

Hair grows at an average rate of 1cm per month. The optimum growth of hair occurs between the ages of 15-30 years, after which starts reducing from the ages of 40-50. The follicle growth cycle comprises of its creation followed by its self-destruction. The new follicle is created during each cycle from the raw materials and nutrients available in the body.There seems to be a limit to this cycle, leading to hair loss with age, even with the help of hair care products (vitamins or shampoos), which do not seem to show any improvements once a certain age is passed.

The factors affecting hair growth

The speed at which hair grows depends on various factors including gender, hormones, genetics and age. It can also be affected the deficiency of nutrients and fluctuations in hormones. For optimum hair growth, it is recommended that we ensure it receives the adequate minerals and vitamins whether via oils and shampoos or vitamins (oral or topical).

According to nutritionists, people who suffer from certain nutritional deficiencies tend to suffer from dry, brittle and dull hair and may also suffer hair loss. Fortunately, it is possible to address these issues by rectifying the nutritional deficiencies.

Healthy hair growth needs complex nutrients, along with an adequate oxygen supply. Unfortunately, we do not know much about which nutrients are needed specifically as very few research studies have provided evidence large enough regarding the ingredients that are required to maintain or promote hair growth. The best we can do is to maintain a happy and healthy balanced diet along with an appropriate hair care program and avoid over straining the hair.

As mentioned above, part of maintaining healthy hair is good diet and avoiding damage to the follicles. The over-processing of hair with colours, dyes, straightening, curling or perming is another major cause of hair damage and loss. Tying your hair in a tight ponytail, tight braiding or using extensions can also lead to profuse loss particularly along the hairline. The hair roots are unable to bear added weight of these enhancements resulting in hair loss by the handful.

Apart from a lack of nutrients, medical conditions and poor hair care, the hormonal fluctuations due to ageing are also a primary cause of hair loss. In women, oestrogen decrease with ageing and rise on the levels of testosterone causes hair thinning. Testosterone is the major hormone in males which is an explanation of why men lose hair more than women.

How can hair loss be prevented?

As mentioned earlier, there are many reasons for loss or thinning of hair, therefore the most important step of fighting hair loss is to identify the cause. If you think that it is due to health related issues (or medical condition) then you should immediately see the doctor. Once your medical condition or medication is stabilised (if possible), your hair should naturally return to its original healthy state, without any additional help.

If your hair loss is due to poor hair care then you need to implement certain change your care regimen. Try and reduce the frequency of straightening or curling your hair and try to switch the hair colouring products to more natural non-toxic brands. Avoid keeping your hair in a tight ponytail or wearing extensions frequently to prevent stress and strain on the hair follicles.

Is it possible to strengthen and regrow hair with vitamins and supplements?

There are an extensive variety of vitamins and supplements, including plant extracts available that claim to grow and strengthen hair. However, there is very little evidence to back these claims up, and we are still faced with the problem of hair loss on a large scale.

There are no studies to support the claims that the use of vitamins or supplements can make hair thicken, unless the hair thinning is directly due to a serious deficiency of vitamins (which is usually not the case). If vitamin deficiency is the cause, then it is advisable to obtain a blood test to check which vitamin you are lacking (such as iron, zinc or vitamin D) and seek to rectify the levels.

Other significant vitamins for the body which also have a significant effect on hair quality, are vitamin C, omega-3 and 6, amino and fatty acids, vitamins B, vitamin A and E. These vitamins are commonly found in daily supplements or as part of a multivitamin combination, so it is usually unnecessary to make extra effort to take extra specific supplements.

Is your hair growth affected by diet?

A good and balanced diet positively affects your body, including the hair. It plays a vital role in keeping your nails, skin, and hair healthy and beautiful. Specific food groups help grow hair such as lentils, salmon, walnuts, and fish. Fast food, oily and spicy foods, potato chips, caffeine, alcohol and other processed foods will have a negative effect on their overall health as well as hair.

Having a healthy diet and taking appropriate vitamins is a great way to maintain your health and improve your hair, however keep in mind that their effects are limited, as they cannot change;

  • Your genes
  • Your hormonal levels
  • Your body’s reaction to the medications
  • Medical conditions
  • Illnesses
  • Your hair care routine

Is it possible to grow hair?

As surprising as it may be, there is a topical over-the-counter medication available, which isFDA approved and available to anyone, known as Rogaine (minoxidil). There is a huge amount of research available, which supports the use of minoxidilfor hair growth and improvement. The drug is available at concentrations of 2-5%. It is recommended to apply the product twice a day, and for best results, the sooner the product is used the better, as the rate of success decreases with age.

The hair growth systems that are available in the market make use of minoxidil as a component of their system. These hair growth systems are advertised and marketed as having plant extracts, vitamins and other alleged miracle ingredients. However, it is really only the presence of minoxidil which has an actual effect on hair.

Those who suffer hair loss due to increased testosterone levels can take finasteride to help balance out the hormones. It prevents the transformation of testosterone into its more potent form, DHT, which is a major reason for hair loss in both men and women. It is recommended to have a consultation with your physician prior to taking this medicine due to the potentially serious side effects.

Bottom line

Hair loss is a serious concern for both men and women, across all ages. This compels people to buy into heavily advertised hair growth systems, vitamin supplements and other hair care products, which unfortunately have little to no effect on hair regrowth. Instead of spending large sums of money on such products, it is advisable to stay away from trending treatments, and stick to the tried and tested solutions. We hope that by reading this post, you have been enlightened regarding what really helps hair grow and can instead invest your money in proper treatments and reap real rewards.

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