Hair Loss and Diet

The average person loses 50–100 hairs each day and most of it grows back. Everyone loses their hair at the same rate, but some people do not regrow the hair that they lose.

The following can spur increased hair loss:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Genes
  • Hormones
  • Age
  • Certain medications
  • Infection
  • Stress
  • Hair products
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Some medical conditions

The following are descriptions of the primary nutrient deficiencies that can lead to hair loss. This loss usually is reversible if diet modifications are made.

Vitamin A

This vitamin is imperative for the growth and health of all cells and tissues, including the hair and the scalp. Vitamin A also is necessary for sebum production, which keeps hair moisturized. To ensure that you are getting enough vitamin A in your diet, choose yellow- and orange-colored produce and plenty of dark-green leafy vegetables. Liver, fish oil, eggs, fortified milk, cream, and cheese are other common sources of this vitamin. Use caution though, because too much vitamin A also can lead to hair loss!

The B vitamins

The B vitamins that have an effect on hair growth are vitamin B6, folic acid, and vitamin B12. These vitamins are crucial for proper formation of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to body tissues, including the hair. Without proper blood and oxygen flow, hair will fall out and regrow slowly.

Vitamin B6 is highest in chicken, fish, liver, pork, eggs, wheat germ, and cooked dried beans and peas. Other sources include soybeans, oats, peanuts, walnuts, green leafy vegetables, legumes, dried fruits, whole grains, cabbage, banana, avocados, and cauliflower. Vitamin B12 is found in animal products. Folic acid is found in green leafy vegetables, brewer's yeast, liver, fortified cereals, citrus fruit (especially orange juice), beets, broccoli, wheat bran, other whole grains, and tomatoes.

Vitamin C

Deficiency of this vitamin leads to hair breakage, because vitamin C is necessary for collagen production. Collagen provides structure to all tissues, including the hair. Like vitamin A, vitamin C also is necessary for sebum production. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, berries, watermelon, peppers, dark-green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cabbage, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.

Copper

Similar to the B vitamins, copper is necessary for the production of red blood cells. Most people consume enough copper, but some genetic problems or an excessive intake of zinc can lead to a deficiency. Copper is found in organ meats, seafood, dark-green leafy vegetables, seeds, and nuts.

Iron

Iron carries the oxygen in the hemoglobin of red blood cells. Hair loss is a classic symptom of iron-deficiency anemia. The best dietary source of iron is heme iron, which is found in meat. Nonheme iron is not absorbed as well. Nonheme iron is found in spinach, dried fruits, beans, and bran. Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron.

Zinc

This mineral promotes cell reproduction, as well as tissue growth and repair. It also is important for the maintenance of oil-secreting glands attached to the hair follicle. Zinc deficiency can lead to increased hair shedding. Zinc is found in poultry, meat, seafood, eggs, milk, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. Excessive amounts of zinc can lead to hair loss, so it is best to get enough zinc from food, rather than overdosing on supplements.

Protein

Individuals who do not eat enough protein will have dry and brittle hair. Protein is found in many foods including meat, poultry, seafood, dairy foods, soy, beans, seeds, and nuts. Small amounts also are found in vegetables and many grain products.