Could your hair loss be caused by a mineral deficiency?

Specific Conditions

Mineral deficiency in the body can cause many problems including hair loss. Normally a well-balanced diet will include all the nutrients the body requires to function, however, very few eat a healthy diet. With today’s busy lifestyle it is so easy to succumb to fast food such as a take away or frozen ready meal.

The vitamins and minerals the body requires is dependent on each individual and their health but there are government issued guidelines which indicate the amount needed.

The skin from which hair grows, is the largest organ of the body and the least essential in terms of nutrients. When insufficient nutrients are received the body’s system will automatically look after the vital organs first. This is why, in many cases, one of the first signs that something is wrong is dry skin and loss of hair. If the hair follicles are not supplied they shrink and eventually are unable to hold the hair shafts. Fortunately, once the problem is resolved hair normally regains its health.

The most vital nutrients to the hair are proteins as the hair is made from the substance keratin. Amino acids which some proteins are made up of are the basis of keratin and have an essential part to play in producing hair. Minerals are also of great importance and without a sufficient supply the hair will suffer.

Iron deficiency can cause anaemia which has been proven to be a factor in diffuse hair loss. Pregnant women are at risk of anaemia due to the hormonal changes and the nutrients needed for the unborn child. Supplements can be the answer but only under the advice of a professional. Green vegetables are a good supply for iron.

The hair, just like the body, needs to have a good supply of oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen to be healthy. If hair is starved of these components it will result in thinning and if left untreated may lead to baldness. It is not a genetic condition whereby hair loss is hereditary due to higher levels of androgen hormones which can cause permanent baldness especially in men.

Calcium is extremely important to the well-being of the whole body particularly bones and hair. Calcium is required in order for vitamin D to work and avoid weak bones and hair loss. Poor diets that lacked calcium led to rickets (not commonly seen these days) which have a detrimental effect on hair. Milk is a good source of calcium or for those allergic to dairy products there are alternatives such as soya milk which are high in calcium.

The thyroid glands play a major part in the how well the body is working. Producing too much or too little of the hormone thyroxine can affect the body’s metabolism. It can make the cause sluggishness, overweight, underweight, hair growth and hair thinning amongst other ailments. Hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid gland, is the cause of hair loss and hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid gland, can cause hair growth. Iodine is the required mineral to help keep the thyroid glands working efficiently and can be found in sea foods, salt and seaweed.

Small amounts of selenium are required to help metabolise iodine in the body and therefore promote hair growth. As it is needed for the iodine if there are insufficient amounts then it will contribute to thyroid problems. Selenium is in the soil vegetables are grown in and they absorb this mineral. A diet which includes veg should be sufficient but if not there are supplements that can be taken. Advice should be sought first as any thyroid problem needs to be investigated.

Zinc is extremely important to hair growth as it is used at the beginning of the growth cycle and without it hair growth will not start. Magnesium is required by calcium to help with bones and hair, if there is deficiency calcium will not be able to work efficiently, bones can become weak, muscles spasms could occur and hair loss could start.

A well-balanced diet will include these essential nutrients. A dietician will be able to advice on a suitable diet for an individual’s life style and ensure that all vitamins and minerals required are included.

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