What Are Some of the Most Frequent Causes of Hair Loss?

By Cindi Pearce

  • Overview

    Most of us tend to take our hair for granted until it starts thinning or falling out. There are a number of reasons why you may be losing your hair, some of which are preventable. When a person experiences problems with her health--and, in this case, her hair--sometimes it's not a big mystery and can be dealt with, and maybe even resolved, without resorting to costly procedures or medical intervention. Taking stock of your habits, your lifestyle, what you're ingesting and what you're not getting enough of can make a difference in the health of your hair.
  • Deficiencies

    If you do not have adequate vitamins and minerals in your system, this can cause your hair to fall out. Vitamins and minerals that are necessary for healthy hair and hair growth include the following: Protein: Hair is primarily comprised of protein. In order to keep your hair healthy and on your head--and to prevent it from going down the bathtub drain--you must get enough protein in your diet, which means that you need to eat lean meats, dairy products and whey. Essential fatty acids are crucial to your health and particularly for your hair. These acids keep your hair from getting brittle and dry, and will improve the texture of your locks. If you're not getting enough of these fatty acids in your diet, ask your doctor about taking supplements that include salmon oil, flax-seed oil and primrose. Biotin is a B vitamin. If you eat your share of cauliflower, yeast, bananas, egg yolks, sardines, mushroom and carrots, you may be getting adequate biotin into your system. Biotin promotes hair health and hair growth, and it prevents your hair from turning gray. According to Ovarian-cysts-pcos.com, biotin also helps nail growth in addition to hair growth. People who have blood type "A" do not, for some reason, absorb vitamin B adequately from food sources, so they may require supplements. Another B vitamin--B5--helps maintain pigmentation (color) in your hair, and may delay the onset of graying and deter hair loss. Eat whole grains, potatoes, milk and egg yolks to get vitamin B5 into your system. Having sufficient amounts of zinc in your diet is thought to prevent stress as well as hair loss, according to Americanchronical.com. Zinc improves your immune system and stimulates hair growth. However, consuming too much zinc can be as problematic and harmful to you as can consuming too little, according to Eco-usa.net. If you are short on the C vitamin, this may cause you to lose your hair. Vitamin E increases the oxygen in your system, and in so doing improves the circulation to your scalp and hair. For years, we've been told that vitamin E has anti-aging properties. Some women smear it on their faces. There are those who apply it to wounds to prevent scarring and to exacerbate healing. Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant that nourishes the cells while fighting free radicals. To maintain the correct level of vitamin E in your system, remember to eat cereals, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, soybeans and eggs.
  • Hormonal Imbalance

    When a woman goes through menopause, she experiences vast hormonal changes. The production of estrogen, which blocks testosterone, declines at this time. When the estrogen supply diminishes, it becomes less effective in blocking the male hormone. The result is that testosterone turns into DHT (Dihydrotestosterone), which is the natural metabolite that is the main culprit regarding hair loss. The hair growth cycle becomes much shorter. When DHT reaches the hair follicles, it makes it difficult for protein, minerals and vitamins to reach the hair, so it is critical that a person ingest a vitamin-, mineral- and protein-rich diet in an attempt to counteract the effects of DHT. Pregnancy can take its toll on hair, according to Hairsystemsunlimited.com, because your hormone levels are fluctuating. During pregnancy, a woman does not lose the normal amount of hair but makes up for it afterward when she may notice a significant loss over a short period of time. Hair tends to fall out about three months after giving birth. Generally, the lost hair is regrown and the hair returns to normal.

  • Stress and Trauma

    Undergoing surgery is both stressful and traumatic, and can wreak havoc on your hair. If you have a high fever for an extended period of time, this can result in hair loss. If you are dealing with unrelenting stress day after day, this, too, can cause your hair to fall out.
  • Alopecia

    Alopecia areata is thought to be an autoimmune disorder. Due to this condition, total hair loss can occur or it may be limited to thinning of the hair.
  • Medications

    There are many medications that can negatively impact your hair, including oral contraceptives, which artificially alter a woman's hormones; blood thinners (anti-coagulants), such as Heparin; antidepressants, such as Celexa, which alter your protein levels. Hair is comprised primarily of protein, so if the protein levels are diminished, this has an impact on your hair. Chemotherapy causes the hair cells to stop dividing. The hair shafts then become thin and the hair breaks off as soon as it emerges from the scalp. Gout medicine, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as corticosteroids and adrenocorticotropic hormones (ACTH) can cause hair loss. The acne medicine Accutane can also cause hair to fall out.
  • Illness

    If your hair is falling out and you have ruled out medication and stress, you haven't given birth recently and you aren't menopausal, this could be an indication of an underlying disease. Inexplicable hair loss can be indicative of diabetes, anemia, lupus or thyroid malfunction.
  • Genetics

    It may simply be in your genetic code. Look at your family members--your parents, siblings--are they losing their hair? This type of hair loss is called androgenic alopecia.
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