Do you struggle with hair loss or hair thinning? Have you noticed as you’ve gotten older that your hair is not as full, thick, and healthy as it once was? If so, you’ll definitely want to read today’s post because I’m discussing 5 of the most common nutritional deficiencies that can be linked to hair thinning and hair loss.
Hair thinning can be linked to a variety of things, including hormonal imbalances, gut and absorption issues, and even genetics. But, more common than not, hair thinning could very well be an underlying nutritional deficiency.
Don’t like reading? Watch the video below…
Before we get started, I want to mention that I do believe topical treatments (i.e. hair masks, deep conditioners, etc.) can be great for the health of your hair. However, no amount of topical treatments will work in the longterm if you have an underlying nutritional deficiency.
And, the good news is that if your hair thinning is due to a nutritional deficiency, then it’s not permanent. Once you correct the underlying deficiency, the abnormal hair loss should stop (in most cases).
#1 – Iron Deficiency
The first deficiency that can be linked to hair thinning and hair loss is an Iron Deficiency.
This one is especially important for women who still have their monthly cycle as is actually more common amongst young and middle-aged women than people would expect.
So, when I hear women complaining about losing too much hair, I always ask them if they’ve had their iron levels checked.
REASON: With an iron deficiency, your body lacks enough iron to make proper amounts of red blood cells. These cells carry oxygen (hemoglobin) around your body and into your tissues, which allows them to function optimally. However, when your body is short of oxygen or hemoglobin, it begins to prioritize its supply to your most vital organs to keep you alive rather than to your hair follicles. As a result, your hair follicles can no longer function optimally, and this can eventually lead to temporary hair loss.
DIETARY SOLUTION: One of the quickest ways to get your iron levels up naturally is to consume foods that contain heme-iron (the most absorbable form of iron). Heme-iron is found in animal products, including red meats, seafood, and poultry (always get grass-fed, pasture-raised, if possible). If you are a vegan, you can still increase iron levels with non heme-iron foods, but I highly recommend consuming these plant-based foods with foods high in Vitamin C because Vitamin C can help to increase the absorption of iron. Plant-based foods that are high in iron include lentils, chickpeas, spirulina, and dark leafy greens.
SUPPLEMENTS: I’m not a huge fan of synthetic, isolated supplements. When possible, I encourage sticking to natural, whole food (or whole food extracts) supplements because I believe your body recognizes it better, which leads to better absorption. So, when it comes to increasing iron levels, my two favorites include: Grass-fed Beef Liver Supplement and Grass-fed Beef Spleen. Both of these foods are high in heme-iron and are usually absorbed very well by the body. Benefits of eating/taking Beef Liver.
GET TESTED AT-HOME: If you don’t have time to get your iron levels checked at the doctor, you can now safely get tested at home. LetsGetChecked offers a reliable at-home Iron test. See my video on how it works here.
#2 – Iodine Deficiency
The second deficiency that can be linked to hair thinning and hair loss is an iodine deficiency.
REASON: Iodine and your thyroid health go hand-in-hand. In fact, iodine is essential for making thyroid hormone. And, thyroid hormones help to control the growth of hair follicles. So, if you’re not producing enough thyroid hormone, it can lead to abnormal hair loss and hair thinning. In order to make sure you’re making proper levels of thyroid hormone, you need proper levels of iodine.
So, when you go get your thyroid levels checked, it’s always a good idea to ask the doctor to also check your iodine levels.
DIETARY SOLUTION: One of the highest sources of iodine is seaweed. Personally, I like to snack on roasted seaweeds snacks that you can get at the grocery store or on Amazon. But, any recipe with seaweed is great (i.e. sushi, seaweed salad, etc.). Other foods that contain iodine include cod, shrimp, tuna, lima beans, and iodized salt.
SUPPLEMENTS: If you prefer to take a whole food supplement, then a high quality Kelp Supplement is the way to go, in my opinion. I prefer this over an isolated iodine supplement because it contains all of the other “support” nutrients, which are also great for your overall health and can encourage better absorption.
#3 – Vitamin D Deficiency
The next deficiency that can be linked to hair thinning and hair loss is a Vitamin D deficiency.
REASON: Vitamin D plays a critical role is stimulating new and old hair follicles. As a result, when your levels are low, it can stunt new hair growth. In fact, a Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to Alopecia, an autoimmune condition that occurs when your immune system attacks your hair follicles causing bald patches in the scalp. Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients not just for your hair health, but also for your overall immune system and wellness.
LIFESTYLE SOLUTION: The easiest and cheapest way to increase your Vitamin D levels is by getting direct sunlight on your skin a few minutes per day or at least a few times per week. Do not add lotions or sunscreen to your skin as these may affect the production of Vitamin D. Of course, use caution. The last thing you want to do is burn your skin.
DIETARY SOLUTION: Some foods that contain a small amount of Vitamin D include pasture-raised egg yolks, wild-caught fatty fish, wild-caught salmon, and Cod Liver Oil.
SUPPLEMENTS: Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so when supplementing, you want to make sure you pair it with a healthy fat. My favorite is these Vitamin D + K2 Oil Drops (K2 helps to increase the absorption of Vitamin D).
GET TESTED AT-HOME: If you don’t have time to get your Vitamin D levels checked at the doctor, you can now safely get tested at home. LetsGetChecked offers a reliable at-home Vitamin D test.
#4 – Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Another deficiency that can lead to hair thinning and hair loss is a Vitamin B12 deficiency.
REASON: A Vitamin B12 deficiency is similar to an iron deficiency in how it affects your hair follicles. It’s also an essential nutrient in making red blood cells, which carries oxygen to the hair follicles. And, as stated above, if your hair follicles are not receiving proper amounts of blood supply, oxygen, and nutrients, it can affect the growth of new hair and possibly lead to abnormal hair loss.
DIETARY SOLUTION: Foods high in B12 include pasture-raised egg yolks, sardines, clams, grass-fed ground beef, beef liver, beef kidney, and fortified nutritional yeast.
GET TESTED AT-HOME: If you don’t have time to get your Vitamin B12 levels checked at the doctor, you can now safely get tested at home. LetsGetChecked offers a reliable at-home Vitamin B12 test or save money and get their Essential Vitamins Test, which tests your Vitamin D, B12, and E levels.
#5 – Protein Deficiency
And, lastly, a protein deficiency can lead to hair thinning and abnormal hair loss.
REASON: Since your hair is primarily made up of protein, it makes sense that a lack of protein in the diet can affect the health of your hair. Because your hair is not considered an essential part of survival, what protein you are consuming is going to be directed to your body’s most vital organs, glands, and tissues whenever protein intake is scarce.
This is probably the least common reason for hair thinning in Western nations because most of us eat enough protein-rich foods, but I wanted to mention it anyway to bring awareness to it. And, with the rise in popularity of vegan diets, you want to make sure you’re consuming enough protein-rich plant-based foods.
With protein, you do have to find a happy medium. You don’t want to consume too much, but you also don’t want to consume too little. The general guideline suggests consuming up to 35% of your total calories from protein.
DIETARY SOLUTION: Pretty much all animal products and animal derivatives contain decent amounts of protein. Plant-based foods high in protein include lentils, chickpeas, most varities of beans, hemp seeds, green peas, nutritional yeast, non-gmo tofu, spirulina, and high quality, clean vegan protein powders.
Why Hair Thinning Should Be Taken Seriously…
If you’ve noticed an increase in abnormal hair loss and hair thinning, it’s important to find out the culprit because, in many cases, it’s not a natural part of aging.
To sum things up, abnormal hair loss and hair thinning can be linked to underlying nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, and gut and absorption issues.
To be safe, I always recommend getting your doctor to do a full panel of your vitamin and mineral levels to see where you stand health-wise. This will give you a clear roadmap on where to begin.
My favorite at-home tests include:
- Micronutrients Test (Vitamin D, B12, E, Copper, Selenium, Zinc, and Magnesium)
- Iron Test
- If you suspect a hormonal imbalance, the Cortisol Test & Thyroid Test are also great!
Want to improve your overall health?
If you’re trying to improve your overall health and wellness, here are a few more interesting reads.
- 7 Signs Your Body Needs a Detox
- The Amazing Health Benefits of Grass-fed Liver (and why I take it daily)
- How to Increase Your Energy WITHOUT Caffeine (game-changing info!)
- 7 Signs of a Magnesium Deficiency
If you have any questions, be sure to post them below.
Disclaimer: The content provided within this blog post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any disease or illness. Always consult with a medical doctor or physician before beginning any new diet or supplement. It’s important to monitor your vitamin and mineral levels on a regular basis to ensure you’re taking proper amounts (not too much or too little).
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