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Diet and Nutrition Tips for Women

Tips for eating well at every stage of life. Know what you need to control cravings, boost energy, and look and feel your best.

Trying to balance the demands of family and work or school—and coping with media pressure to look and eat a certain way—can make it difficult for any woman to maintain a healthy diet. But the right food can not only support your mood, boost your energy, and help you maintain a healthy weight, it can also be a huge support through the different stages in a woman’s life.

As children, boys’ and girls’ dietary needs are largely similar. But when puberty begins, women start to develop unique nutritional requirements. And as we age and our bodies go through more physical and hormonal changes, so our nutritional needs continue to evolve, making it important that our diets evolve to meet these changing needs.

While women tend to need fewer calories than men, our requirements for certain vitamins and minerals are much higher. Hormonal changes associated with menstruation, child-bearing, and menopause mean that women have a higher risk of anemia, weakened bones, and osteoporosis, requiring a higher intake of nutrients such as iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin B9 (folate).

Why many women fall short of the nutritional guidelines

As women, many of us are prone to neglecting our own dietary needs. You may feel you’re too busy to eat right, used to putting the needs of your family first, or trying to adhere to an extreme diet that leaves you short on vital nutrients and feeling cranky, hungry, and low on energy. Women’s specific needs are often neglected by dietary research, too. Studies tend to rely on male subjects whose hormone levels are more stable and predictable, thus sometimes making the results irrelevant or even misleading to women’s needs. All this can add up to serious shortfalls in your daily nutrition.

While what works best for one woman may not always be the best choice for another, the important thing is to build your dietary choices around your vital nutritional needs. Whether you’re looking to improve your energy and mood, combat stress or PMS, boost fertility, enjoy a healthy pregnancy, or ease the symptoms of menopause, these nutrition tips can help you to stay healthy and vibrant throughout your ever-changing life.

Why supplements alone aren’t enough

In the past, women have often tried to make up deficits in their diet though the use of vitamins and supplements. However, while supplements can be a useful safeguard against occasional nutrient shortfalls, they can’t compensate for an unbalanced or unhealthy diet. To ensure you get all the nutrients you need from the food you eat, try to aim for a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, quality protein, healthy fats, and low in processed, fried, and sugary foods.

Calcium for strong bones throughout life

Among other things, you need calcium to build healthy bones and teeth, keep them strong as you age, regulate the heart’s rhythm, and ensure your nervous system functions properly. Calcium deficiency can lead to, or exacerbate, mood problems such as irritability, anxiety, depression, and sleep difficulties. If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, your body will take calcium from your bones to ensure normal cell function, which can lead to weakened bones or osteoporosis. Women are at a greater risk than men of developing osteoporosis, so it’s important to get plenty of calcium, in combination with magnesium and vitamin D, to support your bone health.

How much calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D do you need?

Calcium: For adult women aged 19-50, the USDA recommended daily allowance is 1,000 mg/day. For women over 50, the recommended daily allowance is 1,200 mg/day. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy green vegetables, certain fish, grains, tofu, cabbage, and summer squash. Your body cannot take in more than 500 mg at any one time and there’s no benefit to exceeding the recommended daily amount.

Magnesium: Magnesium increases calcium absorption form the blood into the bone. In fact, your body can’t utilize calcium without it. The USDA recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 320 to 400 mg/day. Good sources include leafy green vegetables, summer squash, broccoli, halibut, cucumber, green beans, celery, and a variety of seeds.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is also crucial to the proper metabolism of calcium. Aim for 600 IU (international units) daily. You can get Vitamin D from about half an hour of direct sunlight, and from foods such as salmon, shrimp, vitamin-D fortified milk, cod, and eggs.

Should you avoid dairy because of its saturated fat content?

As the table above shows, some of the best sources of calcium are dairy products. However, dairy products such as whole milk, cheese, and yogurt also tend to contain high levels of saturated fat. The USDA recommends limiting your saturated fat intake to no more than 10% of your daily calories, meaning you can enjoy whole milk dairy in moderation and opt for no- or low-fat dairy products when possible. Just be aware that reduced fat dairy products often contain lots of added sugar, which can have negative effects on both your health and waistline.

The importance of exercise for bone health

In addition to diet, exercise and other lifestyle factors can also play an important role in bone health. Smoking and drinking too much alcohol can increase your chances of developing osteoporosis, while weight-bearing exercise (such as walking, dancing, yoga, or lifting weights) can lower your risk. Strength or resistance training—using machines, free weights, elastic bands, or your own body weight—can be especially effective in helping to prevent loss of bone mass as you age.

Iron: why you may not be getting enough

Iron helps to create the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in your blood. It’s also important to maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails. Due to the amount of blood lost during menstruation, women of childbearing age need more than twice the amount of iron that men do—even more during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, many of us aren’t getting nearly enough iron in our diets, making iron deficiency anemia the most common deficiency in women.

Anemia can deplete your energy, leaving you feeling weak, exhausted, and out of breath after even minimal physical activity. Iron deficiency can also impact your mood, causing depression-like symptoms such as irritability and difficulty concentrating. While a simple blood test can tell your doctor if you have an iron deficiency, if you’re feeling tired and cranky all the time, it’s a good idea to examine the amount of iron in your diet.

How much iron do you need?

For adolescent women aged 14-18, the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) recommended daily amount is 15 mg (27 mg if pregnant, 10 mg if lactating). For adult women aged 19-50, the FNB recommends 18 mg/day (27 mg if pregnant, 9 mg if lactating). For women 51+ years old, the recommended daily amount is 8 mg.

Part of the reason why so many women fail to get the amount of iron they need is because one of the best sources of iron is red meat (especially liver) which also contains high levels of saturated fat. While leafy green vegetables and beans are also good sources of iron—and don’t contain high levels saturated fat—the iron from plant foods is different to the iron from animal sources, and not absorbed as well by the body. Other foods rich in iron include poultry, seafood, dried fruit such as raisins and apricots, and iron-fortified cereals, breads, and pastas.

Good sources of iron
Food Milligrams (mg) per serving
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 100% iron, 1 serving 18
Chocolate, dark, 45%-69% cacao solids, 3 ounces 7
Oysters, eastern, cooked with moist heat, 3 ounces 8
Sardines, with bone, 3 ounces 2
Tuna, light, canned in water, 3 ounces 1
Beef liver, pan fried, 3 ounces 5
Beef, braised bottom round, 3 ounces 2
Chicken, roasted, meat and skin, 3 ounces 1
Turkey, roasted, breast meat and skin, 3 ounces 1
White beans, canned, 1 cup 8
Lentils, boiled and drained, 1/2 cup 3
Kidney beans, canned, 1/2 cup 2
Chickpeas, boiled and drained, 1/2 cup 2
Spinach, boiled and drained, 1/2 cup 3
Tomatoes, canned, stewed, 1/2 cup 2
Broccoli, boiled and drained, 1/2 cup 1
Green peas, boiled, 1/2 cup 1
Raisins, seedless, 1/4 cup 1
Tofu, firm, 1/2 cup 3
Potato, medium, baked, including skin 2
Cashew nuts, oil roasted, 1 ounce (18 nuts) 2
Bread, whole wheat, 1 slice 1
Egg, large, hard boiled 1
Source: National Institutes of Health

The importance of folate (vitamin B9) for women of child-bearing age

Folate or vitamin B9 (also known as folic acid when used in fortified foods or taken as a supplement) is another nutrient that many women don’t get enough of in their diets. Folate can greatly reduce the chance of neurological birth defects when taken before conception and during the first few weeks of pregnancy. Folate can also lower a woman’s risk for heart disease and certain types of cancer, so even if you’re not planning on getting pregnant (and many pregnancies are unplanned), it’s an essential nutrient for every woman of childbearing age. In later life, folate can help your body manufacture estrogen during menopause.

Not getting enough folate in your diet can also impact your mood, leaving you feeling irritable and fatigued, affecting your concentration, and making you more susceptible to depression and headaches.

Nutrition tips to boost fertility

If you are planning a pregnancy, as well as getting sufficient folate in your diet, consider:

  • Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, as they are known to decrease fertility.
  • Eating organic foods and grass-fed or free-range meat and eggs, in order to limit pollutants and pesticides that may interfere with fertility.
  • Taking a prenatal supplement. The most important supplements for fertility are folic acid, zinc, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and vitamin C.
  • Not overlooking your partner’s diet. About 40 percent of fertility problems are on the male’s side, so encourage your partner to add supplements such as zinc, vitamin C, calcium, and vitamin D.

How much folate do you need?

The U.S. FDA recommends that all women and teen girls who could become pregnant consume 400 mcg (micrograms) of folate or folic acid daily. Women who are pregnant should take 600 mcg, and those breastfeeding 500 mcg

Good sources include leafy green vegetables, fruit and fruit juice, nuts, beans and peas. Folic acid is also added to enrich many grain-based products such as cereals, bread, and pasta.

Eating to ease the symptoms of PMS

Experiencing bloating, cramping, and fatigue during the week or so before your period is often due to fluctuating hormones. Your diet can play an important role in alleviating these and other symptoms of PMS.

Eat foods high in iron and zinc. Some women find that foods such as red meat, liver, eggs, leafy green veggies, and dried fruit can help ease the symptoms of PMS.

Boost your calcium intake. Several studies have highlighted the role calcium-rich foods—such as milk, yoghurt, cheese, and leafy green vegetables—play in relieving PMS symptoms.

Avoid trans fats, deep fried foods, and sugar. All are inflammatory, which can trigger PMS symptoms.

Battle bloat by cutting out salt. If you tend to retain water and experiencing bloating, avoiding salty snacks, frozen dinners, and processed foods can make a big difference.

Watch out for food sensitivities. PMS is a common symptom of food sensitivities. Common culprits include dairy and wheat. Try cutting out the suspected food and see if it makes a difference in your symptoms.

Cut out caffeine and alcohol. Both worsen PMS symptoms, so avoid them during this time in your cycle.

Consider vitamin supplements. For some women, taking a daily multivitamin or supplementing with magnesium, vitamin B6, and vitamin E may help relieve cramps. But, again, supplements are not a substitute for a healthy, balanced diet. It’s always better to get the vitamins and nutrients your body needs from the food you eat.

Add essential fatty acids to ease cramps. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help with cramps. See if eating more fish or flaxseed eases your PMS symptoms.

Nutrition for pregnant or breastfeeding women

You only need about 300 extra calories per day to provide sufficient nutrition for your growing baby. However, gaining some weight is natural during pregnancy, and nursing can help with weight loss after the baby is born.

Nutrition tips for healthy pregnancy

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the neurological and early visual development of your baby and for making breast milk after birth. Aim for two weekly servings of cold water fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, or anchovies. Sardines are widely considered the safest and most sustainable fish to eat, while seaweed is a rich vegetarian source of Omega-3s.

Abstain from alcohol. No amount is safe for the baby.

Cut down on caffeine, which has been linked to a higher risk of miscarriage and can interfere with iron absorption.

Eat smaller, more frequent meals rather than a few large ones. This will help prevent and reduce morning sickness and heartburn.

Be cautious about foods that may be harmful to pregnant women. These include soft cheeses, sushi, deli meats, raw sprouts, and fish such as albacore tuna, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel that contain high levels of mercury.

High quality protein is also important to your baby’s developing brain and nervous system. Opt for high-quality protein from fish, poultry, dairy, and plant-based protein sources rather than relying on just red meat.

Nutrition tips for healthy breastfeeding

Keep your caloric consumption a little higher to help your body maintain a steady milk supply.

Emphasize healthy sources of protein and calcium, which are higher in demand during lactation. Nursing women need about 20 grams more high-quality protein a day than they did before pregnancy to support milk production.

Take prenatal vitamin supplements, which are still helpful during breastfeeding, unless your physician tells you otherwise.

Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. Just as with the pregnancy guidelines above, refrain from drinking and smoking, and reduce your caffeine intake.

If your baby develops an allergic reaction, you may need to adjust your diet. Common food allergens include cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, fish, and citrus. For a cow’s milk allergy, you can meet your calcium needs through other high calcium foods, such as kale, broccoli, or sardines.

Eating to ease the symptoms of menopause

For up to a decade prior to menopause, your reproductive system prepares to retire and your body shifts its production of hormones. By eating especially well as you enter your menopausal years, you can ease common symptoms.

Boost calcium intake (along with vitamin D and magnesium) to support bone health and prevent osteoporosis.

Limit wine, sugar, white flour products, and coffee to ease hot flashes.

Eat more good fats. Omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids can help boost hormone production and give your skin a healthy glow. Evening primrose oil and blackcurrant oil are good sources of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that can help balance your hormones and alleviate hot flashes.

Try flaxseed for hot flashes. Flaxseed is rich in lignans, which help stabilize hormone levels and manage hot flashes. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed to your daily diet. Try sprinkling it on soups, salads, or main dishes.

Eat more soy. Soy products are high in phytoestrogens, plant-based estrogens that are similar to estrogen produced by the body. Some studies suggest that soy may help manage menopausal symptoms. Try natural soy sources such as soy milk, tofu, tempeh, and soy nuts.

Selecting the right plant-based foods to get gorgeous natural hair is no easy task. Despite the proven benefits of plant-based living, it can be challenging to know if you are getting all of your necessary vitamins. Regardless of your diet, if you want gorgeous, natural hair, you must be diligent about how many hair-growing nutrients you’re eating and how you’re eating it.

The condition of your skin, hair, and nails is a clear indication of whether you’re healthy or not. Often, it’s the weak appearance of the hair and skin that gets plant-based eaters to become more meticulous about their diets or to consult with a professional.

First, I’ll discuss some common health challenges of being vegan, and then you’ll read about how to solve them so that you can have the healthy, lustrous natural hair you want.

Step 1: Determine If It’s a Hair Issue or a Nutrient Deficiency Problem?

It can be difficult to tell whether it’s your hair or your body when it comes to hair loss.

If you’re experiencing thinning during your natural hair journey, the first step is to figure out:

  • if you’re deficient in vitamins

  • if you have scalp issues, like fungus which is common

  • if you’re just not taking care of your hair properly

Next, examine your hair loss and determine if you are experiencing shedding or breakage. Signs of breakage include weak or split ends, and thin strands only in certain areas where you’ve worn a pony tail holder regularly. It’s perfectly normal to shed up to 100 hairs per day. If you hear your hair snap, crackle, and pop while you’re detangling your mane, you may only have a breakage issue. If so, then you probably need to get back to the basics of natural hair care.

Remember that curlier hair needs more love and patience.

Step 2: Are You Moisturizing Enough? Defining the Hair Loss Culprit

Moisturizing and protecting your curls and coils is crucial to avoiding breakage. The LOC method, deep conditioning, protein treatments, and using an SLS-free shampoo can all help to add moisture to your hair.

Layering on products using the LOC method (Liquid-Oil-Cream) is ideal because it keeps your hair moisturized throughout the week and protects against friction and damage caused by the elements.

Honey is a go-to ingredient because it draws moisture from the air into your hair, but you’ll want to go with agave nectar or glycerin if you’re strict vegan.

Step 3: Evaluate Your Diet

If you’ve narrowed a hair loss issue down to deficiency, your next step will be to determine why you’re deficient.

The two most likely answers are that you’re not eating enough or that you’re not absorbing enough.

Many people’s intestinal walls are lined with toxins like mucoid plaque, which make it nearly impossible to absorb nutrients from the foods they eat. So, if you truly feel like you consume enough of the right foods daily, you may just need a cleanse. Cleansing will help your cells get the nutrients from the food you eat. Speak to your doctor about an appropriate cleans for your lifestyle and health.

If you’re plant-based, you need to be disciplined about getting enough calories and nutrients. Aim to get as much of your nutrients from veggies, fruits, legumes, and other plants.

Here are the nutrients you may be lacking if you’re vegan:

  • Iron. The best way to get more iron into your diet is by eating leafy greens morning, noon, and night. The easiest meals to make are kale or spinach smoothies, and arugula salads. The recommended dosage of iron, if you’re under age 50, is 18 milligrams. If you’re over 50, it’s 8 milligrams. Always take your iron with vitamin C to increase absorption. Be sure to get an iron test with your doctor before running out to get iron pills, because an overdose is not healthy.

  • Vitamin B12. If you’re always tired and vegan, lacking this nutrient could be the culprit. The body requires this vitamin, and it’s only naturally found in animals. Low vitamin B12 intake can lead to anemia and nervous system damage, according to Vegan Health. There are two options you can take to get this essential vitamin into your body. You can eat a B12 fortified food product like breakfast cereal, or you can take a supplement. The less frequently you take B12, the more you need to take. If you take it daily, you can get by with just 10 micrograms. If you take it weekly, you need 2000 micrograms.

  • Vitamin D3. The best way to get vitamin D3 is through a healthy dose of sunshine. Getting sun rays can be hard if you’re busy or you live in a cold, rainy area. If there’s no way you can get outdoors more, your next best bet is to take a vitamin D3 supplement.

  • Protein. Getting enough protein can be a big challenge if you’re vegan. Consume about half your body weight in grams of protein per day. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, try to get 75 grams of protein per day. Luckily, there is a wide variety of vegan protein available. Choose between legumes, hemp, nuts, and veggies. Three high-protein vegetables are avocado, potatoes, and broccoli.

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Supplementing with omega 3 is a must for all humans. Omega 3 is excellent for hair growth because it enables your cells to do their job of renewing the body. The three most important types of omega 3 are ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid), DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid). ALA is found in plants like flax, chia, and hemp. DHA and EPA are found in fatty fish like salmon and herring. ALA must be converted into DHA and EPA before the body can use it. Humans do not convert it efficiently enough, according to several scientific research studies. What does this mean for you, as a vegan? It means you need to supplement with a plant-based omega 3 pill to get the right kind of fatty acids your body can use. The best omega 3 supplement offering DHA and EPA is algae.

Which Vitamins Help Keep Hair Healthy? Here’s a Quick Guide.

Step 4: Make Time To See A Nutritionist

One of the best things you can do for your vegan lifestyle is to schedule a visit with a plant-based nutritionist. They will understand your needs and will be able to help you work through any challenges. You can also take a nutrition class at a local community class in order to customize the knowledge for your own needs and insight.

More on KimberlyElise.com: Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet with Jennie Miremad

You can have thick and long, natural hair if you’re vegan. If you’re experiencing hair loss, don’t let it be the end of your vegan journey. Rather, let it be the second phase in your vegan lifestyle—the one where you go nuts about your health.

If you are diligent about eating the right plant-based foods, and you supplement with other needed nutrients, you’ll have the healthy, full, and gorgeous hair you’ve always wanted.

Patrina is the founder of Naturalhairqueen.net, which is a blog to educate and inspire women with natural hair. Patrina just celebrated her 10-year natural hair anniversary, and achieved her goal of waist length hair. With the knowledge she has learned over the years she is dedicated to share her knowledge, and experience to educate women who wish to have moisturized, healthy natural long hair. Naturalhairqueen.net | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Beware, These Foods Can Cause Hair Loss

It’s no secret that your diet and lifestyle choices can affect your hair, skin, nails…pretty much all things beauty. Most people don’t realize that many of the foods we eat – as well as stress, pregnancy, and other life changes – can lead to hair loss.

Hair Loss

Hair loss is one of biggest beauty concerns associated with aging. And while there’s always a product designed to target lackluster locks, you’re more likely to see results by changing your diet.

For thicker, fuller hair, you should avoid the following foods:

Alcohol

We’re saddened to say that your favorite adult beverage can greatly affect the health of your hair. An occasional drink is safe – as are most things, in moderation. You should limit your daily alcohol intake if you’ve noticed a change in your hair. Excessive drinking can damage your body’s ability to regenerate cells and cause you to lose vital fluids and nutrients. Furthermore, alcohol dehydrates your hair, skin, and nails quickly. Be sure to follow each drink with a big glass of water.

Sugar and Simple Carbohydrates

Why do all good things have to be SO BAD FOR YOU?!

Unfortunately, refined carbs such as cakes, biscuits, and white flour are high in sugar. Sugar causes your body to create insulin, and insulin relates to a rise of androgen in your system. This hormone is known to make hair follicles shrink. Sugar is also known to inhibit your ability to manage stress, one of the main causes of hair loss.

PS – fried foods, sugar-free items, and known additives (like caramel coloring) are on the “Do Not Eat” list, too. Hydrogenated oils are thought to affect hair growth by suppressing the absorption of essential fatty acids necessary for healthy hair. According to the FDA, aspartame is known to cause thinning hair and hair loss, as well as a number of other issues including arthritis, bloating, and depression.

Also noteworthy – many additives contain cochineal extract, a coloring additive derived from bugs and commonly used in yogurts, sweeteners, and fruit drinks. Gross, right?!

Vitamin A

Sometimes, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. The American Academy of Dermatology warns that too much Vitamin A (often found in sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, winter squashes, lettuce, cantaloupe, peppers, and tropical fruit) can cause hair loss. The AAD recommends taking a fish oil supplement, especially if medication you’re prescribed is rich in Vitamin A.

Milk

Milk and other dairy items contain testosterone, a known factor in acne and other skin issues for men and women. Many physicians advise patients suffering from skin issues, and/or hair loss to abstain from or limit their dairy intake to determine if it’s a catalyst for their acne.

The jury is still out on whether or not ice cream counts against us…

In conclusion, we encourage you to enjoy all of the above items IN MODERATION, and to follow your doctor’s instructions for healthy skin and hair. We also recommend that clients with thinning hair use the appropriate professional hair care products chosen for you by your Get Dolled Up stylist.

Wishing all of our readers health, happiness, and great hair. We’ll see you soon!

XO,

The Get Dolled Up Team

When Hair Loss Is Not Genetic

Wonder why your hair is falling out? The answers may surprise you. Many women suffer with sudden hair loss, and most loss of hair has a reason — whether genetic, stress, diet, medication, or certain health conditions.

The most common type of hair loss is the kind that you inherit, called androgenetic alopecia. With genetic hair loss, you lose your hair gradually, and hair loss increases with age. But in some cases, other factors may lead to your hair falling out. It is especially likely that a nongenetic factor may be causing your loss of hair if your once thick, healthy hair suddenly and noticeably begins falling out.

Most of us normally shed 50 to 100 hairs a day. This loss of hair generally does not cause thinning of hair because at the same time new hair is growing on your scalp. But sudden hair loss is something to take seriously. According to the Mayo Clinic, this loss of hair occurs when the cycle of hair growth and shedding is disrupted or when the hair follicle is destroyed and replaced with scar tissue.

Hair disorders such as androgenetic alopecia (hereditary thinning, or baldness) are the most common cause of hair loss, affecting about 80 million people in the United States, including both men and women. Women with hereditary hair loss most commonly notice a widening part in the front and center of the scalp with generalized thinning, while men see bald patches on the head.

But other than genetic reasons, there are many factors that can result in hair loss, including:

  • Age
  • Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, and lupus
  • Medication or major surgery
  • Poor nutrition
  • Stress

Autoimmune diseases, such as alopecia areata, result in sudden loss of hair. With alopecia areata the body’s immune system attacks its own hair. This autoimmune disease happens in healthy people and causes smooth, round patches of hair loss on the scalp and other areas of the body. There is treatment available for alopecia areata, so see your dermatologist.

Sometimes an underlying medical condition can result in sudden loss of hair. An estimated 30 diseases, such as thyroid disease, diabetes, lupus, and anemia, cause hair loss. See your doctor for ways to treat the disease and reverse the hair loss.

Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and major surgery can cause temporary hair loss. Even though the sudden loss of hair is traumatic, this should reverse when treatment is stopped.

Women can blame hormones for noticeable hair loss. Falling estrogen results in temporary hair loss after giving birth. Hair loss also happens during menopause. Major stress, such as from divorce or death of a loved one, can result in hair loss, too.

Additionally, a poor diet, weight loss, not getting enough protein, and eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia) can result in hair loss. It’s wise to see your doctor for help in reversing the hair loss associated with these conditions.

6 Most Common Triggers Of Hair Loss (And How To Prevent It Now)

Hair loss affects everyone to varying degrees at some point in their lives – understanding the causes is the first step to tackling the problem for yourself

Many people experience hair loss, but most people don’t talk about it, or even know the reason why their hair is falling, thinning, or disappearing. It’s a hard struggle to think or talk about, and even harder to come to terms with.

The good news is that you are not alone. Hair loss affects over 80 million Americans both men and women. Hair follicular challenges start to appear for 40% of men by age 35, and women by the age of 40. That percentage increases to over 70% (almost double!) for men age 80 and women age 60.

The month of August is declared Hair Loss Awareness month by the American Academy of Dermatology. The goal of this national event is to provide education about hair loss (causes and best forms of restoration), and empower those who are suffering to be proactive and realize they are not alone.

Here are some common causes of hair loss:

1. ANDROGENETIC ALOPECIA

Androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss in both men and women (also known as male-pattern baldness for men, see below). Androgenetic alopecia involves the action of hormones called androgens, which are essential to regulation of hair growth, among other things. The condition may be inherited, and is likely to be related to increased androgen activity. In women, androgenetic alopecia usually starts with thinning at the part lines, followed by increased hair loss.

2. MALE PATTERN BALDNESS

About 2 out of 3 men will suffer hair loss by age 60, and the most common culprit is male pattern baldness. Caused by male sex hormones and a combination of genes, it usually causes hair to recede in a defined pattern, beginning above both temples. Hair at the crown also starts to thin and gradually progresses to balding.

3. HYPOTHYROIDISM

Hypothyroidism is known as having an underactive thyroid gland. Located in the neck, this gland produce hormones crucial to metabolism, growth, and development. When the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones (due to an underlying health reason), hair loss slowly develops. Hypothyroidism is very common, and if left untreated continued hair loss can occur.

4. NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCIES

Hair loss may be attributed to a poor diet. Besides internal health reasons, there are some foods that cause follicular challenges, especially if consumed beyond the norm.

  • Sugar – Sugar produces insulin and androgen, the male hormone known to shrink hair follicles and cause hair loss. Food heaving in carbohydrates, such as potatoes, bread, pasta, and white rice contain a high glycemic index, which can break down sugars quickly and cause inflammation.
  • Fried Foods – High-fat, fried foods often contain hydrogenated oils that may contribute to hair loss. Testosterone levels are increased with diets that are high in fat, which could lead to male pattern baldness.
  • Selenium – Although your body needs small amounts of selenium, too much of it could also cause hair loss. Selenium is found in oysters, tuna, and whole wheat bread.
  • Foods High in Vitamin A – It’s always safe to assume that too much of a good thing, can lead to a bad thing. Dietitians suggests that foods or individual supplements high in Vitamin A may lead to hair loss.

Additionally, a lack in some nutritional foods may also trigger hair loss. Consuming the right foods will boost your nutrition and reduce hair from thinning and/or shedding. Deficiency in vitamin B, protein, and iron can aid in hair loss while foods containing vitamin C, silica, zinc, and sulphur can promote healthier hair and growth.

Make sure your nutrient levels are on track! Remember to check in with your doctor regularly to follow your diet and nutrition.

5. STRESS

Physical and emotional stress can both result in hair loss. Any traumatic physical event (car accident, pregnancy, severe illness, etc.) can trigger hair loss. Marc Glashofer, MD, a dermatologist in New York City explained that, “When you have a really stressful event, it can shock the normal hair cycle, more into the shedding phase.” Emotional stress is less likely to cause hair loss than physical stress, but it can also play a part and exacerbate a problem that’s already present.

6. OVERSTYLING

Styling hair is a helps represent individual style and expression, but when done too often and not treated properly, it can lead to root damage and hair fall. Heat-driven hair styling tools, harsh chemical-induced products, or tightly tied/pinned hairstyles are often bad for the hair over long periods of time.

WHAT YOU CAN DO – PREVENTION & RESTORATION

Millions of dollars are spent by consumers each year on hair to maintain, style and restore hair. Hair does not define who a person is, but it is an important aspect to us. It only makes sense that we invest in it, as it’s our mane attraction.

Although hair loss in some form throughout your life is basically inevitable, there are certainly ways to prevent hair thinning or falling out. Determine what the culprit of your hair loss is, and make the necessary changes to improve the health of your hair.

Invest in a low-level laser device to halt excessive shedding and stimulate growth of thicker, healthier hair. The use of clinical-strength laser technology can help maintain hair in the long run and safely restore hair. There are many solutions that can temporarily fix the problem, but it is best to invest in one that can combat hair loss permanently.

THE KEY: Promote active hair loss over passive hair loss in your regular routine and activities.

The key is to be active about treating your hair loss situation. It is always best to be proactive when hair loss is initially noticed. That way, hair can be prevented from falling out or thinning sooner, and what’s left can be maintained or improved. Tackling the problem as soon as possible could make all the difference.

THE BOTTOM LINE

No one wants to go through hair loss. Hair is a source of immense pride and confidence. Hair loss is common, so it’s likely that those around you are suffering from it now or noticing signs. Here at iRestore we want to bring awareness to hair loss and help those who are suffering by empowering each other. Some see hair loss as a weakness, we see it as an opportunity for you to be the the best version of yourselves.

From our medical-grade laser devices to our hair care line products such as our shampoo, supplements, serum, and gummy vitamins, we provide safe and hassle-free solutions for hair growth and restoration. Share your story with us, help a friend, or learn more about possible solutions––whatever it is, we are always here to help.

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30 Best and Worst Foods for Healthy Hair Growth

There are some major factors that influence your hair—genetics, age, hormones, nutrient deficiencies, and more. But what you eat is one of the few things you can do to control your hair’s appearance. After all, if you are predisposed to thin, so-so hair, you wouldn’t want to make it worse by consuming the wrong foods, would you? And even if you belong in a hair commercial, you’d like to protect that look, right? That’s where picking the right healthy foods for hair growth comes in.

Before you spend yet another year shelling out loads of cash on professional treatments or products to get the glossy locks you want, consider this. Although the thickness and strength of your hair is largely hereditary, the foods you eat (or don’t get enough of) can affect the status of your hair just as much as that fancy conditioning treatment can.

Which nutrients are in foods for hair growth?

There are multiple nutrients that encourage hair growth:

  • biotin: a B vitamin which may help hair grow and strengthen
  • vitamin D: it can help stimulate hair follicles that have become dormant
  • vitamin E: it’s potent antioxidant activity helps to reduce oxidative stress in the scalp, which is known to be associated with alopecia
  • iron: iron deficiency has been linked to hair loss
  • vitamin C: it makes it easier for your body to absorb iron
  • omega-3 fatty acids: their anti-inflammatory effects can counteract any inflammation that’s causing hair shedding

The 26 best foods for hair growth.

By eating nutrient-rich foods that are scientifically proven to help your hair—and avoiding those that only do harm—you can influence your hair’s thickness, its growth or shedding, how shiny it is, and even its likelihood of greying. Compare the list below with what you usually have in your pantry, and use it to inform your next grocery shopping trip.

1

Almond Butter

Almond butter contains a wide variety of nutrients—including protein, healthy fats, and certain vitamins—that have all been linked to hair health. It’s the vitamin E content in the nuts that researchers say is particularly good for keeping your locks thick and lustrous. One small eight-month trial published in the journal Tropical Life Sciences Research found participants who supplemented daily with 100 milligrams of vitamin E saw an increase in hair growth by as much as 34 percent.

Just a tablespoon of almond butter provides nearly 3.87 milligrams of Vitamin E. The recommended daily Vitamin E allowance is 15 milligrams, so almond butter will put you well on your way, especially if you eat more than one tablespoon.

Don’t like almond butter? Regular almonds will help, too. According to the NIH, almonds are one of the best dietary sources of vitamin E. An ounce of dry roasted almonds provides one-third of your DV for fat-soluble vitamin E.

2

Tangerines

The benefits of tangerines affect your hair in a big way. Their vitamin C content makes it easier for your body to absorb iron, which is found in foods like red meat and spinach. Iron deficiency has been linked to hair loss, according to a study published in the Journal of Korean Medical Science, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough of it. And vitamin C foods will only help your body absorb that iron even more.

3

Salmon

Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have a number of health benefits.

“Omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory. They can help if you have inflammation that’s causing hair shedding,” dermatologist Dr. Carolyn Jacob told EatThis.com when speaking about the best foods to prevent hair loss. Some other great sources of omega-3s include walnuts, chia seeds, and flax seeds.

In addition to helping you stay fit and disease-free, omega-3’s enable you to grow hair and keep it shiny and full. According to nutritionist Dr. Joseph Debé, CD, CDN, both male-pattern balding and female hair loss is often associated with insulin resistance. Salmon is one food that helps the body process insulin more efficiently.

Plus, salmon and other fatty fish are teeming with follicle-stimulating vitamin D. Per a study printed in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, vitamin D may also help stimulate hair follicles that have become dormant. In other words, there’s evidence to suggest the nutrient may help prevent thinning hair and even bald spots.

4

Spinach

Spinach contains a variety of nutrients and minerals that can benefit your hair, as well as your overall health.

“It’s important to make sure you don’t have a lack of something in your diet that could be leading to hair loss,” Jacob told EatThis.com. “We check protein levels, iron, iron storage, vitamin D and a number of other labs to make sure you don’t have deficiencies.”

In addition to having a high iron and magnesium content, spinach can help your hair produce sebum, too.

5

Eggs

Eggs are packed with 10 mcg of a B vitamin called biotin, which may help hair grow and strengthen nails. Other good sources of biotin include almonds, avocados, and salmon.

Plus, eggs are a great source of vitamin D (11 percent of your DV per egg) to help your hair grow strong and shiny. According to a study that was published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine, the sunshine vitamin can help create new hair follicles: little pores where new hair can grow. This, in turn, may improve the thickness of your hair or reduce the amount of hair you lose as you age.

6

Greek Yogurt

Ever notice what sits atop nearly every ancient Greek statue? A mop of thick, full, wavy hair. An artistic choice? Perhaps. But maybe it’s due to the thick, protein-rich yogurt that Greeks and other cultures have been eating for hundreds of years. Greek yogurt contains vitamin B5 (known as pantothenic acid), and B vitamins can help you maintain healthy skin and hair.

7

Oatmeal

Oats are rich in iron, fiber, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which stimulate hair growth, making it thick and healthy.

RELATED: Easy, healthy, 350-calorie recipe ideas you can make at home.

8

Guava

Guavas, like tangerines, are high in vitamin C. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, a vitamin C supplement was found to promote “significant hair growth in women with temporary hair thinning.” Although we often think of oranges as the best source of vitamin C, one guava packs four to five times as much.

9

Lentils

Lentils are rich in folic acid, which can help your body make red blood cells. Those red blood cells bring oxygen to your organs, including your skin and scalp.

10

Oysters

If you find your hair thinning or falling out completely, it could be because you’re not getting enough zinc in your diet. Thankfully, research has shown that hair loss related to zinc deficiency can be reversed simply by eating more of the all-important nutrient. According to a review in the journal Dermatology Research and Practice, 5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight was sufficient to induce hair growth in patients with alopecia. One way to boost your zinc intake is to load up on oysters. Just six of the shelled seafood will give you 30 milligrams of zinc, which is double the DV of the nutrient! Some other foods high in zinc include meat and beans.

11

Liver

As we mentioned, iron deficiency can lead to hair loss, most notably in women. Iron is plentiful in our ol’ friend spinach (and other dark leafy greens), soybeans, lentils, fortified grains, and pasta. Liver may sound much less appetizing, but if you like pâté, your hair will benefit. Organ meats like liver have iron in abundance.

12

Blueberries

Oxidative stress has been linked to hair loss and unhealthy scalps per an International Journal of Cosmetic Science review, so to keep your scalp and hair happy it’s important to load up on antioxidants, which counteract oxidative stress. And blueberries are rich in antioxidants, including vitamin B and proanthocyanidins.

13

Barley

Like almond butter, barley is rich in vitamin E. It can help with hair growth, so eating foods high in this nutrient is always a good idea if you’re looking to add more foods for hair growth to your diet.

14

Walnuts

According to a review published in a journal called Dermatology Practical & Conceptual, deficiency of the polyunsaturated essential fatty acids linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) can cause hair changes including loss of scalp hair and eyebrows, as well as lightening of hair. To prevent any of that from happening to you or your hair, eat foods packed with linolenic and alpha-linolenic acids, such as walnuts.

15

Carrots

When converted to vitamin A, beta-carotene protects against dry, dull hair and stimulates the glands in your scalp to make an oily fluid called sebum. So where do you find this elixir of the locks? Orange-colored fruits and vegetables are your best bet: Sweet potatoes, pumpkin, cantaloupe, and mangoes.

16

Halibut

Halibut is high in magnesium, which helps the body maintain healthy insulin levels. And diabetes has been linked to hair loss, so keeping your insulin levels regulated is important for a number of reasons. Yes, halibut is one of the best foods for hair growth, but it has plenty of other health benefits, too.

17

Shiitake Mushrooms

Copper is essential for keratin fiber strength, according to a Dermatologic Clinics report. The trace mineral may also help hair maintain its natural color and prevent graying, according to a 2012 Biological Trace Element Research study. A cup of cooked shiitake mushrooms contains 1,299 micrograms of the mineral, which is 145 percent of your RDA. Seaweed and sesame seeds are also great sources.

18

Chickpeas

Chickpeas are high in folate, which helps your body’s red blood cells function, as we mentioned with lentils.

19

Spirulina

Spirulina is high in protein and hair-growth-promoting magnesium, as well as copper. This blue-green algae grows naturally in oceans and salty lakes in subtropical climates.

20

Marmite

Marmite is a spread made from yeast extract, and it’s high in folic acid. The Australian condiment contains 100 micrograms of folic acid per serving, a quarter of the 400 micrograms of folic acid the CDC recommends women get each day.

21

Peanut Butter

Like almond butter, peanut butter is rich in vitamin E. If you love adding nut butters to your diet, it could help your hair, too.

22

Fortified Whole Grain Breakfast Cereals

Check your cereal’s label, but most servings will provide 100 percent of your DV of iron. As mentioned, an iron deficiency could lead to thinning hair.

23

Kiwi

Kiwi is rich in vitamin C. It can help your body absorb iron and could promote hair growth on its own, as mentioned. So dig into your favorite citrus fruits, like this one.

24

Clams

Clams and linguine anyone? The vitamin B12 in clams has been found to promote hair growth, reduce hair loss, and slow down the graying process, according to a review in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology. Just a three-ounce serving of clams contains 1,402 percent of your daily value of vitamin B12, according to the NIH.

25

Red Peppers

These veggies pack a punch in the vitamin C department, which means they’ll help your mane stay long and strong. Just half a cup of red peppers contains more than the entire DV of vitamin C, an antioxidant that is necessary for the growth and development of hair and beyond. Because the body can’t produce the vitamin on its own, eating foods packed full of the nutrient is the number one way to get your fix and strengthen your hair. What’s more? When the red pepper’s vitamin C syncs up with the dietary iron from something like spinach, the result is that your body can absorb the iron much more easily, which will make your mane even tougher.

26

Black Beans

Lysine is an essential amino acid that may play a role in iron and zinc uptake, so, given what we’ve already told you about hair and those key nutrients, it’s not surprising that lysine has been shown to encourage the growth and development of healthy hair. In fact, a 2002 study printed in the journal Clinical and Experimental Dermatology showed that the addition of lysine to iron supplementation significantly helped some women with chronic thinning hair and hair loss who failed to respond to iron supplementation alone. Black beans, which are packed with protein, are also loaded with lysine. A half-cup serving of the legumes contains an impressive 523 milligrams of the essential amino acid.

4 foods that cause hair loss.

Rather than promoting hair growth, these foods contain certain nutrients or ingredients than can damage hair or discourage its growth. If you want healthy hair, avoid these foods that cause hair loss.

1. Swordfish

High levels of mercury may be linked to hair loss, and swordfish is higher in mercury than some other seafood options. The overarching rule (but there are exceptions) is that the bigger the fish is in nature, the higher levels of mercury it has in it. Steer clear of fish like swordfish, mackerel, and even some tuna.

2. Sugar

Speeding up hair loss is yet another reason why sugar hurts your health. It’s really pretty basic: Protein is super important for your hair, and sugar hinders the absorption of it. Steer clear of added sugar and surprising foods that have sugar.

3. Starchy refined grains

This one goes hand in hand with sugar, since white bread, cakes, pastries, white pasta, and other refined, over-processed starches are converted into sugar, which causes your hair to thin. So step away from the croissant, and stick with whole wheat whenever possible.

4. Alcohol

Alcohol slows the levels of zinc in your body, and zinc is a necessary mineral for healthy hair and growth. Drinking alcohol also dehydrates you, which can make your hair more brittle. So if you do decide to ease up on the booze, your skin and hair will thank you.

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Healthy hair

Every day most people shed around 50 to 100 hairs, but with over 100,000 hairs in the scalp this amount of hair loss generally doesn’t lead to any noticeable thinning or loss of scalp hair. However some people may experience more severe hair loss on their head, and possibly all over their body. While this may not be much of a concern to some, for others hair loss can be devastating and life changing.

There are a number of reasons why hair can fall out, become thin or start to look unhealthy. Genetics, hormonal factors, medical conditions and medications can all play a part, while evidence suggests lifestyle factors can also be a cause. Nutritional deficiencies and emotional stress in particular are thought to have significant impact on healthy hair.

This factsheet will explore what causes hair loss and how including specific nutrients in your diet could be key to keeping hair healthy and strong.

What causes hair loss?

The reasons for hair loss in men and women will vary, but there tends to be several common causes that affect both sexes.

Hormonal imbalances

Hormones are largely responsible for many types of hair loss, particularly male and female pattern baldness, hair loss during pregnancy and after the menopause.

Medical conditions and illnesses

Thyroid problems, scalp infections, and other skin disorders such as lupus can trigger hair loss. The good news is once the underlying infection is treated, hair will grow back.

Medications

Healthy hair can be affected by certain medications prescribed to patients undergoing treatment for conditions such as heart problems, cancer, depression, arthritis and high blood pressure. This type of hair loss tends to be temporary.

Genetics

Female and male pattern baldness are common in people with very high levels of a certain male hormone. This is a hereditary problem, therefore if members of your close family have experienced hair loss and thinning, there is a high chance you may too.

Physical and emotional stress

Some people who have experienced an intense physical shock or emotional stress may start to experience hair thinning and hair loss. This is because trauma can shock the hair growth cycle and push more hair into the shedding phase rather than the growth phase. This type of hair loss is typically referred to as telogen effluvium and mainly affects the scalp.

Lack of protein

Hair is around 91% protein. Protein is made up of long amino acid chains called polypeptides, which are found in the cortex (middle part) of the hair. The amino acids consist of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulphur and are the building blocks of nails and skin. As a result, a diet lacking in protein can shut down hair growth and lead to lacklustre, weaker locks.

Nutrient deficiency

A lack of iron and zinc can lead to hair loss because these minerals are essential for helping hair follicles to grow. Therefore, people who are anaemic may find their hair becomes weaker and thinner.

How is hair loss treated?

Medical treatment

If you are worried about your hair loss and it is causing you distress, you should consider making an appointment with your GP to discuss possible treatment options. If you have a specific medical condition that is causing your hair loss, your GP will be able to make a diagnosis and recommend medications to resolve this.

In terms of common types of hair loss such as male and female pattern baldness, medications such as finasteride and minoxidil can be used for cosmetic reasons. However, these treatments don’t work for everyone and will only show effects for as long as they are taken. There are surgical options for hair loss, but these can be expensive as they are not available on the NHS.

Healthy hair diet

Another option worth considering when tackling hair loss and hair thinning is nutrition. There is evidence to suggest that a diet rich in specific nutrients can strengthen new hair and help prevent hair loss and weakness.

Studies that focus on the effects of diet on hair primarily involve factors such as protein malnutrition, eating disorders and starvation. While a specific diet for healthy hair may not be helpful for types of hair loss caused by medical conditions or genetics, it is considered valuable for those who have experienced hair loss as a result of nutritional deficiencies – such as low levels of protein. In these circumstances, a nutritionist can devise a healthy hair diet plan consisting of certain foods and that may be able to encourage stronger regrowth.

Eating for healthy hair

Eating a nutritionally balanced diet is key for good health, and when our bodies are healthy so is our hair. If you are experiencing hair loss and thinning, we have outlined a guide below on eating for healthy hair, and how to address any nutritional deficiencies, which may be connected with your type of hair loss.

Protein deficiency

As hair is made mostly of protein, eating a diet that contains sufficient levels of protein is considered essential for keeping hair healthy, strong and growing naturally. A deficiency can lead to thin, brittle hair or hair loss.

The top recommended protein-packed foods for healthy hair include:

  • Oily fish – Salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines and trout are packed with protein and good fats (omega-3 fatty acids) that contribute towards hair shine and strength, and help to prevent breakage. The NHS recommends eating at least two portions of oily fish a week.
  • Nuts – Offering a great range of nutritional benefits, nuts are one of the best foods for healthy hair. They offer a rich source of zinc and omega-3 fatty acids as well as protein, which can help to improve the overall look of hair (especially brazil nuts, almonds and walnuts).
  • Eggs – One of the best sources of protein you can find, eggs can boost the growth rate and strength of hair. Eggs also contain B-vitamins, which can boost hair shine.
  • Beans and lentils – Packed with protein, zinc and biotin – a vitamin B complex necessary for hair growth – beans and lentils should form an important part of a healthy hair diet.
  • Dairy products – Milk, yoghurt and cheese are rich in protein as well as calcium, which also contributes to hair growth and thickness. Aim to have around two to three portions of dairy a day.
  • Chicken – Containing high levels of protein as well as healthy hair nutrients zinc, iron and B vitamins. Zinc promotes the hair growth and repair and normalises the production of oil around the hair follicles. If your diet is deficient in zinc this can reduce the overall thickness of your hair and lead to hair loss.

Vitamins and minerals

A healthy hair diet should consist of plenty of fruit and vegetables, which contain vitamins and minerals to help keep the scalp healthy and prevent the hair follicles from thinning. Spinach and other green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale and Swiss chard are good sources of iron, beta carotene, folate, and vitamin C which help keep hair follicles healthy and scalp oils circulating.

Vitamin C is particularly beneficial for aiding circulation to the scalp and supporting the tiny blood vessels that feed the follicles. A lack of vitamin C can lead to hair breakage, so include the following in your diet to up your intake:

  • citrus fruits (oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruit)
  • peppers
  • broccoli
  • sweet potatoes
  • kiwi
  • brussels sprouts.

The daily recommendation for adults is 40mg vitamin C per day, unless you are a smoker or under constant stress or training a lot, then you should double the intake. Please consult a health professional if you are considering taking a supplement, as taking more than 1000mg a day could lead to stomach pain, flatulence and diarrhoea.

Iron deficiency

Iron helps make red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body. Without sufficient oxygen, the hair bulb may not be able to create new hair cells, therefore slowing the hair growth. Iron-rich foods that may in some cases help with the prevention of hair loss or thinning include:

  • red meat
  • nuts
  • beans
  • dried fruit
  • dark leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and watercress
  • wholegrains.

Content reviewed by dietitian, Claudia Ehrlicher. All content displayed on Nutritionist Resource is provided for general information purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for advice given by your GP or any other healthcare professional.

Mercury Overload: What It Is & How It Affects Your Health

August 5th, 2019

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You may be surprised to learn that even in our “clean” and modern world, mercury overload is much more common than you would think, and it is very often a root cause of chronic illnesses, including Hashimoto’s, Graves’, and autoimmune disease.

I have uncovered mercury overload as a cause in countless of my patients’ symptoms, especially the more complex cases. And I eventually discovered that mercury overload was one of the root causes of my own autoimmune thyroid condition, due to eating a lot of tuna fish growing up, the numerous vaccines I received as a Peace Corps Volunteer, traveling through China (high coal burning area) for six weeks in college, and then living in Texas (high concentration of coal burning plants).

There are two reasons mercury overload too often goes undiagnosed and untreated. The first is that conventional medicine only recognizes mercury poisoning, which is far more rare, and the second is that most people are unaware that we are continuously exposed to low levels of mercury in our everyday lives, which can actually be more harmful.

In this article, we’ll look at how you’re being exposed to mercury, what mercury overload is, and how mercury overload can lead to chronic illness. Then in part two I’ll cover how test for mercury overload, how to reduce your exposure, and steps to and safely detoxify.
Types of Mercury
There are three basic types of mercury:

  1. Elemental mercury
    This is the type of mercury you find in amalgam dental fillings, which are known to shed mercury as you salivate, breathe, and eat. Elemental mercury is typically in liquid form and can also be found in fluorescent light bulbs.1
  2. Inorganic mercury
    This type of mercury is typically formed when mercury combines with other elements, such as when amalgam fillings begin to break down. In the US, this type of mercury has been banned in cosmetic products.
  3. Organic mercury
    These mercury compounds are formed when mercury combines with carbon, is the kind typically found in seafood, as well as vaccines. This type of mercury can actually pass through the placenta to the fetus in pregnant women.

Where You’re Exposed to Mercury

Unfortunately, thanks to our modern world, you are exposed to mercury from many sources on a daily basis without knowing it. Although you cannot see or smell it, mercury is all around us.

Air
Coal burning plants release a tremendous amount of gaseous heavy metals into the atmosphere. The Sierra Club created an interactive map that allows you to see if there are any coal-burning power plants in your area.

Water
The widespread use of commercial fertilizers has released substantial amounts of heavy metals into our aquifers and waterways, including mercury. Unfortunately, EPA regulations are far too lax in terms of the allowable amount, so it’s up to you to ensure your water is suitable for drinking and showering.
Amalgam Fillings
Since amalgam fillings contain mercury, they’re a constant source of residual mercury exposure. Over time, these fillings corrode slightly, releasing mercury into your saliva and airways, where it begins to build up in your body.
Fish
Some fish are high in mercury, including tuna and shark. These organic compounds are risky for anyone to consume, but pose a particular threat to pregnant women, since this type of mercury can actually be passed through the placenta to the developing fetus.
Cosmetics, lotions, and fragrances
With little regulation on cosmetics in the US, it’s difficult to weed out which ones to watch for. Despite growing concern among consumers, tests are still showing lead, chromium, mercury, and other heavy metals in several cosmetic products.2
Vaccines
Some vaccines, including the flu vaccine include thimerosal, which is an organomercury compound.3 Thimerosal is added to vaccines to prevent bacteria and fungi from growing within them.

Mercury Poisoning vs Mercury Overload

As I said, actual mercury poisoning from one large exposure all at once is very rare and I do not often see it in my clinic.

It can result in kidney and lung failure, and even death, if not treated right away. Symptoms can vary widely, and can include, vision and speech impairment, loss of muscle control, weakness, tremors, and decreased cognitive function.

Symptoms of Mercury Overload

Mercury buildup over time from continuous, low-level exposure is referred to as mercury overload.

The problem is that your body doesn’t immediately process and eliminate mercury, it’s a process that can take anywhere from one to four months. If you are you continuously exposed to mercury in small amounts, your body is never able to truly rid itself of this heavy metal, and the buildup continues to accumulate.

Though the threat is less urgent with mercury buildup, this is one of the most common types of mercury exposure I see in my patients, and can contribute to a myriad of persistent and seemingly unrelated symptoms, including:

  • Allergies
  • Anxiety
  • Brain fog
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Chemical sensitivity
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Headaches
  • Hearing loss
  • Infertility
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Sleep disturbance in children
  • Unexplained numbness and tingling

How Mercury Overload Can Affect Your Health

Heavy metals such as mercury essentially create a constant state of inflammation, creating problems with your nervous system in particular. This can lead to a wide variety of health problems that are difficult to trace back to one single cause, and leaves many doctors scratching their heads.
Mercury Overload and Autoimmunity
A constant, low-level exposure of mercury has been linked to autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s, Graves’, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s, and more. Although the connections between the two are still being studied, there are three theories as to why mercury buildup causes autoimmune dysfunction.

The first is that mercury alters or damages the cells in various tissues in your body. Your immune system then fails to recognize the altered tissues and attacks them as foreign invaders, whether they’re in your thyroid, skin, brain, intestines, or anywhere else.

Another theory is that heavy metals stimulate the immune system so that it goes on high alert. Over time, your overly stressed immune system becomes unable to tell the difference between you and foreign invaders, and eventually begins misfiring, attacking your own cells.

The third theory is a little more complex and concerns the way your immune cells are “educated”.

Your T cells are white blood cells responsible for a variety of immune responses. They begin life in your bone marrow and then move to the thymus, a small organ right behind your breastbone. In the thymus your T cells are taught to recognize foreign invaders (viruses, toxins, pathogens, and other dangers) and to distinguish them from the good bacteria and healthy foods you want to welcome into your body.

Some T cells are further educated to become “regulatory T cells” and they have the important job of keeping your other T cells in line, making sure they do not mistake your own body as a foreign invader.

However, toxins, including mercury and other heavy metals, can shrink or atrophy your thymus, keeping it from producing enough high-quality regulatory T cells. This makes it easier for your other T cells to get out of line and start attacking your body’s own tissues.
Mercury Overload and Thyroid Dysfunction
Mercury toxicity increases your risk of autoimmune disease of the thyroid, Hashimoto’s and Graves’, in particular because it looks so similar to iodine, which your thyroid uses to produce its hormones.

Your thyroid is remarkable good at absorbing any available iodine in your body. However, if it is tricked into absorbing mercury because of their structural similarities, it can lead to an autoimmune response explained by the first two theories listed above.

In fact, in a 2011 study, women with excessive mercury exposure were more than twice as likely to have high thyroid antibodies.

This can manifest as Hashimoto’s, where your thyroid underproduces its hormones, slowing down all of your metabolic processes and causes fatigue, brain weight gain, hair loss, and more. Or it can lead to Graves’ disease, where your thyroid overproduces its hormones and speeds up all of your metabolic processes, causing rapid heart rate, weight loss, tremors, anxiety, and more.

Mercury toxicity can also lead to non-autoimmune hypothyroidism because when your thyroid stores mercury in place of iodine, it doesn’t have enough iodine to produce its hormones. This is why I recommend taking a high-quality multivitamin that includes iodine, such as The Myers Way® Multivitamin, which I specially designed for the millions of us with Hashimoto’s, Graves’, and thyroid dysfunction.
Mercury and Recurrent Candida
While there is not a lot of research on the link between mercury overload and Candida overgrowth, I’ve seen the two occur together and exacerbate each other in many of my patients.

One potential reason for this is that Candida can be helpful for binding mercury and other heavy metals so that they cannot enter your bloodstream.4 While in one sense this helps protect your body from the effects of mercury, it can also allow Candida to overgrow.

There is also some evidence to suggest that mercury disrupts your gut microbiome, leaving an opening for Candida and harmful bacteria to overgrow.5 Mercury can also damage your gut lining, leading to leaky gut and allowing Candida to become a systemic problem.6

There is some debate about whether to treat mercury overload or Candida overgrowth first when the two occur together. I find that it is extremely important to work towards restoring your gut health before detoxifying from mercury. If you chelate heavy metals with a leaky gut, you could potentially reabsorb these toxins, which could actually be more harmful as your body becomes flooded with toxins!

That’s why I first start my patients on my Candida Breakthrough® protocol, and then move to helping clear the body of mercury.
Mercury and MTHFR Mutations
If you carry one or more MTHFR gene mutations, you’re at a heightened risk for mercury overload because your body can have a greatly diminished capacity for detoxification. With your ability to filter out toxins such as mercury reduced by 30-90%, you could be at a greater risk for mercury toxicity, as well as developing autoimmunity, Hashimoto’s, Graves’, or thyroid dysfunction.

I myself have two MTHFR mutations, which is why I was more susceptible to the effects of mercury exposure. This is also why I take a Methylation Support supplement daily, in order to optimize my methylation processes and minimize the effects of mercury and other heavy metals.

In the second part of this article, I’ll explain the different testing options for mercury overload (including the preferred method I use in my clinic), as well as how to safely address mercury overload by reducing your exposure and flushing mercury from your body using Coconut Charcoal and Glutathione.

If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for my free newsletter so you don’t miss it!

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Mercury Amalgam Fillings and Hair Loss

The possible connection between mercury amalgam fillings and hair loss is one of the most hotly debated topics I’ve researched!

In fact, hair loss is just one of a slew of health problems attributed, campaigners say, to the use of mercury in dentistry.

Yet the mainstream dental profession – and the FDA – strongly refutes the idea that mercury amalgam fillings are in any way harmful to human health.

So who to believe?

Should you be concerned if your existing fillings contain mercury? Should you try to avoid mercury amalgam fillings in future?

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This article looks at why some experts warn against the use of dental amalgam – and what to do if you believe your fillings may be affecting your health.

Please note: This information should not be seen as medical advice. You should speak to a qualified dental practitioner about any concerns you may have regarding mercury fillings.

Quickly, make sure you take the free hair quiz further down in this article.

Why are some experts concerned about the use of mercury in fillings?

In short, because mercury is a highly toxic element, with mercury poisoning the second most common cause of toxic metal poisoning.

Symptoms of mercury poisoning include:

  • headache
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • burning sensation in the extremities (known as peripheral neuropathy)
  • sweating
  • elevated heart rate
  • increased sweating
  • skin discoloration (pink fingertips and toes, pink cheeks)
  • rashes
  • increased production of saliva
  • poor co-ordination
  • twitching
  • hair loss
  • high blood pressure
  • insomnia
  • muscle weakness
  • sensitivity to light
  • memory problems

Mercury poisoning may also lead to zinc deficiency – another contributing factor for hair loss.

There are 3 forms of mercury – elemental, organic and inorganic – and various ways we can be exposed to them, including via:

  • certain fish – particularly swordfish and tuna
  • fresh produce and seeds treated with mercurial fungicides
  • certain medications and vaccinations
  • mercury amalgam fillings
  • occupational exposure (through, for example, adhesives, fabric softeners, disinfectants, batteries and chemicals used in the control of algae)

So if there’s a risk, why is mercury used at all?

Mercury is a popular filling material with dentists because it is both cheap and pliable. The pliability enables the dentist to mix it and then press it into the tooth, where it hardens quickly and has the strength to withstand biting and chewing.

The problem, however, is that these fillings may not be as robust as previously believed, with some sources suggesting that small amounts of mercury vapor can be released into the body as the filling wears.

Small as these amounts may be, some experts fear that they can be harmful because of the extended period of time the body is exposed to them.

How does the dental profession view this risk?

The dental profession is somewhat divided on this issue.

Currently, both the American and British Dental Associations state that mercury fillings are safe. Indeed the British Dental Association (BDA) and the Council of European Dentists have been actively lobbying against a full ban on dental amalgam.

Nevertheless, new EU guidelines state that its use should be restricted – not, the BDA says, because it is harmful to human health, but because its disposal is harmful to the environment.

This may be so – after all, the metallic mercury used by dentists is treated as a hazardous material, both for shipping and disposal purposes.

But the stipulation in the guidelines agreed on March 14th 2017 state that there should be

No use of amalgam in the treatment of deciduous teeth, children under 15 years and pregnant or breastfeeding women, except when strictly deemed necessary by the practitioner on the ground of specific medical needs of the patient (from 1 July 2018)

This surely indicates a clear sense of doubt as to its absolute safety (although, yet again, the BDA refutes this).

Furthermore, there has been a rise in the number of mercury-free dentists, who are firmly convinced that it poses a danger to human health and are actively working to provide an alternative.

A 2011 article published in the UK’s Guardian included comments from Marie Grosman, scientific adviser for the Non au Mercure Dentaireorganisation, who stated:

We should pay attention to the materials dentists are using in our mouths. Toxicity tests are needed to guarantee that they are innocuous and compatible with our bodies. That would rule out mercury immediately, which has several proven toxic effects.

The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) – a not-for-profit organisation and accredited member of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP’s) Global Mercury Partnership – works to inform consumers about the risks of amalgam mercury and ways in which those risks can be eliminated.

Their (inarguably logical!) goal is “to always seek the safest, least toxic way to accomplish the goals of modern dentistry and contemporary healthcare”. In a world where health care provision is sometimes more strongly motivated by financial considerations, some may find this a refreshing philosophy.

You can read more about their work here (external link).

So should I have my mercury fillings replaced?

As opposed to the use of mercury amalgam as they are, even mercury-free dentists do not always recommend the removal of existing fillings. This is because drilling and other techniques used in removal can cause a lot of mercury to be released very quickly. This can then be inhaled by both you AND the dental staff treating you.

Other dentists recommend removal only if the fillings are worn or damaged (in which case they are more likely to be releasing mercury into the body), or if there is decay under the filling.

The IAOMT, however, has developed safety recommendations for the removal of fillings – the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART). This is designed to minimize any risk.

You can read the SMART recommendations here and the IAOMT actually recommends that you do so, in order to ensure your own dentist follows the corrects procedures if you go ahead with removal.

There are currently a small number of SMART certified dentists listed here.

NOTE: The IAOMT does not recommend that you have mercury fillings removed if you are pregnant.

Are there any alternatives to mercury amalgam fillings?

Yes. There are new dental amalgams that contain both iridium and mercury – the iridium helps prevent the mercury from being released into the body.

There are also amalgams made of a mixture of copper and mercury, with the mercury making up the smaller proportion of the mixture.

Mercury-free – but somewhat less strong than amalgam – is composite resin. Composite resin fillings take longer to prepare and require extreme care by the dentist, so you would need to spend more time in the treatment chair.

The other problem is that some composites contain Bisphenol-A (BPA).

BPA carries its own set of health risks – indeed, its use is banned in the manufacture of baby bottles. And some cancer charities are asking that its use in food packaging is banned too.

If you choose a composite resin filling as opposed to mercury amalgam, be sure to check that it’s BPA free.

To sum up…

When you’re suffering from hair loss and looking for answers, any potential causes are worth consideration and investigation.

The concept that hair loss may be triggered by mercury poisoning from fillings is not proven – but there seems to be enough doubt within the dental profession to take the possibility seriously.

If you have worn or broken mercury amalgam fillings – or simply feel that you would like to have these fillings removed – then you may wish to speak to a mercury-free dentist for advice.

And should you require any NEW fillings, then you may wish to request a mercury-free (and BPA-free) alternative.

Sources and for more information

Mercury Toxicity and Antioxidants: Part I: Role of Glutathione and alpha-Lipoic Acid in the Treatment of Mercury Toxicity

The Dental Amalgam Toxicity Fear: A Myth or Actuality (an article supporting the use of mercury)

Mercury Fact Sheet from IAOMT

Over to you…

Do you have any comments or opinions about the connection between hair loss and mercury fillings? Have you had fillings removed, or looked for an alternative to amalgam?

Please do use the form below to share your thoughts.

Alopecia World

I have been reading a lot about vaccines the last few days and it just dawned on me that the mercury that is used as a preservative in many of the vaccines that are administered to people could be one of the causing agents to alopecia. Moreover, amalgam fillings leak mercury, and I have quite a few of those fillings, so there is another source of mercury.
I googled mercury and alopecia and there it was!! I found tons of info on this. Many of the other symptoms that I have experienced matches the picture too. Check out the symptoms.
Mercury Poisoning
Mercury poisoning is the result of too much exposure to the poison mercury. Mercury is destructive to the immune system and causes many unrelated diseases. This can delay treatment, because both doctor and patient are attempting to cure other diseases and not the original cause.
Causes of Mercury Poisoning
Mercury poisoning can be caused by any number of methods of exposure. Amalgam dental fillings are a main cause, other causes are eating fish that have been exposed to mercury in the environment, industrial and work place exposures such as those in the paint industry, even in the hospital (and home) setting poses a potential threat to mercury poisoning because of the mercury in thermometers, dropping or somehow breaking a single thermometer is a very hazardous situation even without touching the mercury because of the vapors produced by the mercury.
Vaccines!!!!! For decades, half of all childhood vaccines contained a chemical preservative called Thimerosal, this is made from mercury which is one of the most toxic substances on our planet.

Some other sources of mercury are cosmetics. There have been several cases of mercury poisoning in the south western states by a company that sold a beauty cream with “calomel” listed as an ingredient. Calomel is mercurous chloride (HgCl2). This product had mercury levels around 10%.
In Germany, there were cases of mercury poisoning through the use of over the counter hair bleaching products that had no warning label concerning the contents. The results were the
Classic signs of mercury poisoning – loss of hair and discolored fingernails.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning in humans
1. Psychological disturbances
Angry fits, short term memory loss, low self esteem, inability to sleep, loss of self-control, sleepiness. Loss of an ability to learn new things, doing things by rote.
2. Oral Cavity problems
Inflammation of the mouth, loss of bone around teeth, ulcerated gums and other areas in the mouth, loose teeth, darkening of gums, taste of metal, bleeding of gums.
3. Digestive tract problems
Cramps, inflamed colon, GI problems, Diarrhea and other digestive problems.
4. Cardiovascular problems
Weak pulse, blood pressure changes, chest pain, or feeling of pressure in the chest area.
5. Respiratory problems
Weakness and problems with breathing, Emphysema, Coughing persistently.
6 Neurological Problems
Headaches, vertigo, tinnitus, shaking in various areas of the body (eye lids, feet etc)
Symptoms in children
Mercury poisoning in Children is a cause of many symptoms of developmental disorders including Autism, Asperger’s, PDD-NOS, ADD.
Common neurological symptoms that occur in children are: decreased eye contact, flat affect, repeating certain actions over and over again, not responding to their name, not looking at an object that is being pointed at by another, poor concentration or attention, sensitivity to sensory stimulation. Common language or speech symptoms of mercury poisoning: loss of speech, delayed speech decreased understanding and articulating words, remembering certain words. Also common are social problems such as withdrawal, being irritated, aggressive behavior, night terrors and other sleep problems, mood swings. In addition other symptoms include auto-immune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, juvenile diabetes, asthma, chromic ear infections, and decreased immunity.
Of course, it must be recognized that mercury is not the cause for all of the disorders in this paper. It can be said that mercury is the original trigger and can set off all of these disorders and disorders. Therefore, if these symptoms are present then it is logical to check for the presence of mercury poisoning.
There is much information on the internet concerning mercury poisoning (information about cases of amalgam dental filling poisoning, reports of activists in the US) There are several more concerning amalgam dental fillings which seems to me to be a very preventable cause of mercury poisoning that has been going on in the US for almost 200 years.
Before you do some research on mercury poisoning, you would be somewhat skeptical concerning the reality of mercury poisoning. But once you finish your research, I am sure that this is something that everyone needs to be warned about. The effects are startling and something needs to be done as soon as possible. There are many people’s lives that are being ruined unnecessarily and many others that are tragically ended because of mercury poisoning.

I can’t believe I didn’t even think about this before, but at this point I am 100% convinced this is what has caused most of the symptoms and diseases I have experienced throughout my life… including ten years of alopecia.
Now it is time to get ALL of the heavy metals out of my lovely body.
Hot tip: Chlorella and oxygen therapy with H2O2

How Can I Improve My Hair and Nails?

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By Kara Carper, MA, CNS, LN
August 20, 2016

Are you plagued with splitting or brittle nails? Or perhaps your hair is dull and thinning and you wish it were shiny and thick. It may help to use good quality and non-toxic nail and hair products on the outside, but you’ll see the most improvement when you take a look at what’s happening on the inside.

Poor hair and nail health are typically signs of a nutritional deficiency. Nutritional deficiencies usually occur from not eating the correct nutrients or malabsorption issues. Either way, both problems can be solved with the right food and supplements.

What Healthy Nails and Hair Look Like

First let’s envision what healthy nails and hair look like. Healthy nails are evenly colored, smooth, strong, and have a pale pink or flesh covered nail bed. Hair is optimally shiny, without split ends. Baldness and pattern baldness are hereditary; however, some cases of hair loss or thinning can indicate a health issue.

The Basics for Healthy Nails and Hair

Some nutritional solutions will be sure to help nails and hair, across the board–regardless of the specific concern you may have.

  • Eat healthy fats. Examples of healthy fats are butter, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds and avocados. The health of every cell membrane in your body is dependent on the fats in your diet. Eating a fat-free or low-fat diet can lead to poor nail and hair growth. Make sure you include a healthy fat at every meal and snack.
  • Supplement with fish oil. Fish oil contains an essential fatty acid called Omega-3, which most Americans are extremely deficient in. Omega-3 fatty acids nourish your hair follicles for stronger, shinier hair that grows faster, and your nails will also become stronger and less brittle. Take at least 3000 mg of high-quality fish oil per day.
  • Supplement with GLA. Just like fish oil, GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) is another fatty acid that is difficult to obtain from food alone. Borage seed oil contains a high GLA content and can help with dry hair, split ends, and brittle, slow-growing nails. Add 600 mg of GLA daily.
  • Get enough protein. Hair and nails are made of structural proteins known as keratin, so adequate dietary protein is important for providing the building blocks that grow strong hair and nails. Include proteins such as fish, chicken, meat, eggs or dairy, at every meal and snack.
  • Eliminate nutrient-depleting food and drinks. Trans-fats inhibit the absorption of fatty acids (which you are likely deficient in), so avoid anything labeled as hydrogenated oil. Also, food and drinks high in sugar leach minerals from your body. Calcium, magnesium, zinc, sulfur and many others are necessary for hair and nail health, and sugar depletes you of these nutrients.

Solutions to Specific Nail and Hair Problems

Certain problems with hair and nails can indicate issues that may require other recommendations. Read on to see if these pertain to you:

Hair loss or thinning hair
Brittle or splitting nails
Vertical ridges or “spoon” nails
White spots on the nails
Nail fungus

Attractive Hair and Nails are a Sign of Health

It’s not just about vanity; the appearance of both hair and nails is a barometer of your internal health. No matter what issues you are experiencing, it’s important to address nutrition first. Include quality protein, healthy fat, and vegetable and fruit carbohydrates at each meal and snack. Reduce processed and sugary food consumption because those foods contribute to nutritional deficiencies that lead to poor hair and nail health. It may be necessary to complement nutritious eating with supplements, depending on your individual needs. Taking these steps will not only give you strong nails and shiny hair, but will assure of you optimal overall health as well.

For more information on the topic of hair and nails, listen to the Dishing Up Nutrition episode with special guest Jim McAfee author of Your Body’s Sign Language.

Your hair puts up with a lot. From sizzling heat to chemical treatments, you put your hair through the wringer. So, it should come as no surprise when it starts to show signs of damage.

Brittle hair is a combination of dryness, dullness, split ends and frizzing. Like dry skin, dry hair has a wide spectrum of levels from mild to severe and a wide range of causes, as well. Understanding what causes your hair to become dry and brittle is half the battle.

Let’s explore the subject of brittle hair and its causes. We’ll also talk about the difference between brittle and thinning hair, and how to treat it.

What Does Dry, Brittle Hair Look Like?

Your hair is unique as you are. Your hair type determines its volume and texture, as well as your options for styling. Some hair simply doesn’t respond as well to heat and styling products as other types.

Regardless of your hair type, there are some common signs of healthy hair:

  • Minimal shedding.
  • Smooth texture with minimal tangling
  • Retains natural texture when exposed to humidity
  • Healthy scalp free from dandruff
  • Natural luster and shine, but not overly oily
  • No split ends or fraying; minimal signs of breakage
  • Snap-back quality; doesn’t break when pulled
  • Natural movement and bounce

Hair that absorbs water like a sponge rather than repelling it is typically too dry. Brittle hair is also likely to be rough to the touch and more likely to break when pulled or stretched. If your hair doesn’t hold style or color well, it could also be a sign of dry, brittle hair.

If your hair is showing signs of damage, it’s not something you should ignore. Finding more hairs in your brush than usual or seeing hairs sprinkled on your pillow when you wake up may be the result of thinning rather than breakage.

How is Brittle Hair Different from Thinning Hair?

You’ve probably become accustomed to how your hair feels when you pull it up into a ponytail. If one day there’s less hair to pull back, you’re going to notice and you’re probably going to be concerned.

It is completely normal to lose anywhere from 50 to 100 strands of hair on a daily basis. After all, the average person has between 90,000 and 150,000 hairs on their head, so it’s no big deal. When you start to lose more than 100 or even 200 hairs a day, however, it could be a sign of a bigger issue.

Roughly one in four American women suffer from thinning hair and, while most women experience it in middle age, it can happen at any time. Most women notice thinning hair on the top third of the scalp while the hairline remains intact. You may also notice a widening part, or a thinner ponytail when you pull your hair back. Female pattern hair loss occurs when new hair grows in finer and thinner than the original hair, resulting in lower hair volume and, eventually, halted growth.

Some of the things that cause your hair to become brittle can also contribute to thinning. Things like stress and styling damage are potential causes, but most cases of hair loss are related to genetics.

Treatment Options for Dry, Brittle Hair

The first step in restoring your hair’s healthy texture and shine is to make healthy changes to your diet. When your diet is poor, it will be reflected in your body and in your hair. A healthy diet for hair includes plenty of lean protein as well as fresh fruits and vegetables to provide antioxidants and hair-supporting nutrients like biotin, vitamin E, vitamin C and iron.

In addition to making healthy changes to your diet, there are certain things you can do to start improving the condition of your dry, brittle hair. Here are some ideas:

  • Switch to a shampoo and conditioner designed for damage control. These are made with hair-supporting ingredients like antioxidants, protein and moisturizing oils to help restore your hair’s healthy condition and strength.
  • Use a pre-shampoo treatment or conditioning mask. It may take a few extra minutes in the shower, but the moisturizing and reconditioning benefits are well worth it.
  • Choose hair styling products made with hydrating ingredients. Look for moisturizers like shea butter, argan oil and coconut oil, while avoiding harsh and drying ingredients like alcohol and sulfates.
  • Try washing your hair every other day. Washing your hair every day can strip away the natural oils that keep your hair hydrated and conditioned. Try washing your hair every other day instead, using a dry shampoo if needed on the days between.
  • Be more mindful of how you wash your hair. When shampooing your hair, concentrate the lather at the roots and leave the ends alone. With conditioner, concentrate your attention on the dry, split ends and avoid the scalp area.
  • Use protective hair products when exposing your hair to heat or sun. Spritz on a thermal protector spray before using heat tools and protect your hair with a spray-on SPF for hair before spending the day in the sun.
  • Be smart when using heat tools. Always make sure your hair is completely dry before using heat tools and avoid lingering in one section for too long. One or two passes is all you need with a flat iron — anything more will increase the risk for damage.

In addition to following these tips, you should be aware of the things that cause your hair to become dry and brittle. Something as simple as hot, sunny weather can dry out your hair and frequent use of heat styling and smoothing treatments can make matters worse. Hormonal changes that occur with pregnancy, menopause and menstruation can also affect your hair, as can tight hairstyles, harsh chemical treatments and drying shampoo.

How to Prevent Dry, Brittle Hair

Many women take their hair for granted. But when you look in the mirror one day and suddenly realize that your hair is damaged and dry, you may find yourself wishing that you’d done a little more to protect it over the years.

Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to protect your hair:

  • Change your hair style once in a while to reduce stress on the hair follicles. This is particularly important if you typically wear a weave or tight hairstyle.
  • Take an occasional break from using heat tools. If you straighten or curl your hair on a daily basis, take a few days off and pull your hair back into a loose ponytail, instead.
  • Use the low heat setting on your hair dryer to get the damp out of your hair, then let it dry the rest of the way naturally.
  • Deep-condition your hair before and after applying color or chemical treatments. Your cuticle opens during these treatments, leaving it more susceptible to damage.
  • Use shampoo and conditioner designed for your hair type and avoid harsh and drying ingredients like sulfates, silicones and alcohol.
  • Be careful when brushing and combing your hair, particularly when it is wet. Use a wide-toothed comb on wet hair or a brush specifically designed for detangling.

If you suspect that your hair problems are due to thinning rather than dryness, you may want to talk to your doctor about medical treatments for hair loss.

A topical minoxidil treatment (two percent concentration) is a very effective treatment for hair loss in women — more effective, in fact, for women than for men. In clinical studies, nearly 20 percent of women using topical minoxidil for eight months experienced moderate hair growth and 40 percent experienced mild regrowth. Keep in mind that continued use is required for long-term benefits — if you stop treatment, you may lose the hair growths you’ve gained.

Every woman wants long, luscious locks, but healthy hair takes time and effort to maintain. If you’re subjecting your hair to heat and harsh chemical treatments, you may need to start taking steps to rehydrate and restore your hair’s healthy condition.

Onychoschizia or splitting of the fingernails is a common problem seen by dermatologists. The term onychoschizia includes splitting, brittle, soft or thin nails. Onychoschizia is more common in women.

Only very rarely are internal disease or vitamin deficiencies the reason (iron deficiency is the most common). One tip is that if the fingernails split, but the toenails are strong, then an external factor is the cause. Basically brittle nails can be divided into dry and brittle (too little moisture) and soft and brittle (often too much moisture).

The usual cause is repeated wetting and drying of the fingernails. This makes them dry and brittle. This is often worse in low humidity and in the winter (dry heat). The best treatment is to apply lotions containing alpha-hydroxy acids or lanolin containing lotions such as “Elon” (by the “Dartmouth” company) to the nails after first soaking nails in water for 5 minutes.

Wearing gloves when performing household chores that involve getting the hands wet is very helpful in preventing brittle nails. Cotton lined rubber gloves can be purchased in stores.

If soft, consider that the nails may be getting too much moisture or being damaged by chemicals such as detergents, cleaning fluids and nail polish removers (the acetone containing removers are somewhat worse than acetone free). Some feel that once a week application of clear nail prep once a week may help. Nail polishes with nylon fibers in them may add strength.

Be gentle to you nails. Shape and file the nails with a very fine file and round the tips in a gentle curve. Daily filing of snags or irregularities helps to prevent further breakage or splitting. Avoid metal instruments on the nail surface to push back the cuticle. If the nails are “buffed” do this in the same direction as the nail grows and not in a “back and forth” motion because this can cause nail splitting.

Biotin (a vitamin) taken by mouth is beneficial in some people. Get the “Biotin ultra” 1 mg. size as it also comes as much smaller pills and take 2 or 3 a day. It takes at least 6 months, but does really help at least 1/3 of the time. Do not take this if you are pregnant. Calcium, colloidal minerals, and/or gelatin my help, but have not been shown to help as reliably as Biotin.

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The medical information provided in this site is for educational purposes only and is the property of the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice and shall not create a physician – patient relationship. If you have a specific question or concern about a skin lesion or disease, please consult a dermatologist. Any use, re-creation, dissemination, forwarding or copying of this information is strictly prohibited unless expressed written permission is given by the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.

Brittle nails and hair

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