When your body thinks it’s starving, it doesn’t make ‘luxury’ items like hair. This can be bad news for the millions of Americans who have spent the last month going to extreme measures to lose the pounds the packed on during the holiday season.
What many dieters don’t realize is, the “crash” diets often seen this time of year are not only bad for your health, but they are bad for your hair. Caloric, iron and protein deficiencies are among the most common nutritional triggers for unhealthy hair, including excessive shedding and thinning.
Each February hair restoration physicians see an influx of new patients seeking answers to the sudden hair shedding and thinning. What many of these patients don’t realize is, the hair loss they are experiencing is a direct result of the diet they started four to six weeks earlier. Patients are not only surprised to learn that their diet is behind their hair loss, but many also falsely believe that hair thinning will stop as soon the end their diet, which is a dangerous misconception. The effect of diet on your hair is proportional to an individual’s risk for hereditary hair loss. For instance, for those who are genetically predisposed to male or female pattern hair loss, the crash diet may be the catalyst to an onset of symptoms and problems. For most people, nutrition-related hair loss is usually temporary, but be prepared, once the diet is stabilized, it can still take six to 10 months for the hair to return to normal*.
It can be difficult to assess the root cause of sudden hair loss, it is essential for patients to consult a hair loss specialist, a board-certified hair restoration physician who can help assess the damage, choose a course of treatment if necessary, and track and monitor future hair thinning as well as their response to treatment.
The HairCheck device is one of the many tools used to determine the extent of damage to a patient’s hair. HairCheck is a simple, painless, non-invasive way to measure and track the amount of hair growing in a given area of scalp (called your Hair Mass Index or “HairNumber”). The highly sensitive hand-held ‘trichometer,’ measures hair caliber and hair density together and expresses them as a single number, it can also measure the percentage of hair breakage, which is a common cause of hair loss. Tracking these numbers can help determine the extent and rate of a patient’s hair loss and/or breakage and inform them of any changes over time. HairCheck can also be used to quantify the degree of hair breakage from harsh hair care regimens or extreme diets.
While the HairCheck and other tools allow doctors a better understanding of the damage a patient’s hair has suffered, the best way to protect your hair is through preventative measures. And the simplest preventative action is a healthy diet, which gives your hair the vitamins and nutrients it needs. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet with plenty of protein is important for maintaining healthy hair growth. However, in addition to protein, there are many other nutrients that are needed to maintain the thickness, growth rate and healthy appearance of the hair strands. These include vitamins A, B and C, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. For this reason, foods like fish, dark green vegetables, red meat and nuts are especially good for maintaining healthy hair.
To help stimulate healthy hair growth and reverse damage to your follicles, your hair may benefit from a boost to jumpstart the healing process. Originally approved for hair loss, low level laser “combs,” “hoods” and new FDA-approved “laser caps” are now being used by patients to create longer, thicker, fuller, healthier hair. Nutritional supplements like the fish-protein based Viviscal Pro, and pharmaceutical-grade biotin, along with prostaglandin analogs can all boost the vitality of your hair.
Just remember, how you eat can determine how healthy, or unhealthy, your hair is, so think twice before starting an extreme diet – or you might lose more than a few pounds.
Dr. Bauman’s Nutrition Tips for Healthy Hair
- Iron and protein deficiencies are among the most common nutritional triggers for unhealthy hair, while vitamins, especially B, are important to the overall health of your hair and preventing hair loss and thinning.
- Some of the best food choices for healthy hair include salmon, which is loaded with omega-3 fatty acid, dark green vegetables for vitamins A and C, and Nuts, which are a terrific source of zinc, which can prevent hair shedding.
- Many women take calcium supplements to improve their health – but the same should also be true for hair supplements. Scientifically developed treatments like Viviscal Pro and Biotin actually create longer, thicker, healthier hair.
- Hair loss may be a sign of a serious medical condition so seek the advice of a hair loss specialist so diagnosis, measuring and monitoring can be performed.
*Each individual's treatment and/or results may vary
If you or someone you know has hair loss or eyebrow or eyelash concerns, click to start either a long-distance phone consultation OR an in-person, in-office consultation with Dr. Bauman. You can also Ask Dr. Bauman a Question or simply call Bauman Medical Group toll-free 844-GET-HAIR or +1-561-394-0024.