There are many aspects to maintaining a healthy head of hair. These includes treating your hair gently, managing stress levels, maintaining good nutrition, and optimising your thyroid and sex hormone profiles.
At 23MD, together with essential lifestyle advice, Dr Martin Galy will check your blood levels of hormones that might affect your hair, and using bo-identical equivalents, can restore all of these, to enable you to achieve the best hair possible.
Below are some of the ways you can improve your hair health.
Low thyroid function is one of the main causes of hair loss, but it can also cause a host of health
problems. Untreated hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) can increase your risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye out for the symptoms and have your thyroid function checked.
Both excessive and underactive thyroid hormones can negatively affect hair growth, so it is always important to properly treat your thyroid gland with the correct amount of medicine and have it monitored. 2.
Human hair follicles are direct targets of thyroid hormones. Both T4 (Thyroxine) and/or T3 (Liothyronine) modulate multiple hair biology parameters, ranging from hair follicle cycling (growing and resting phases) to pigmentation (colour). 1.
At 23MD, hypothyroidism can be easily diagnosed with a blood test and if needed, treated with appropriate medicine called thyroxine and/or liothyronine if indicated. This is a bio-identical hormone medicine that replaces the thyroxine that maybe lost or low if you are hypothyroid.
The hormones that the thyroid gland secretes into the bloodstream play a vital role in regulating metabolism. There are many nutrients that are needed to make adequate levels of thyroid hormones. These include but are not limited to the following
- Magnesium Citrate
- Vit C
- Vit B6,Vit B1, Vit B2, Vit B3
- Vit D
- Vit E
- Folic Acid
- Zinc (picolinate)
- Iodine (Kelp)
Consequently, a deficiency in any of these can lower thyroid hormone produation. Apart from thin dry hair, this can cause a range of symptoms, including fatigue, constipation, dry skin and brittle nails, aches and pains, and feeling down — symptoms that you might easily attribute to other health problems.
It’s a good idea to make sure your symptoms or hair loss are not the result of an underactive thyroid by a blood simple test that measure your thyroid function completely, including the TSH, T4 and T3 levels. Moreover, hypothyroidism is especially common in women. Between ages 35 and 65, about 13% of women will have it, and the proportion rises to 20% among those over 65. Because the link between symptoms and thyroid disease isn’t always obvious, especially in older people, many women won’t know they have it, so at 223MD, we normally recommend this as part of your initial work-up if there are any symptoms associated with low thyroid function.
Even though scalp hair is not biologically essential, it can have great psychological and social significance. The results of a 1993 Glamour magazine survey showed that more than half of women said, “If my hair looks good, I look attractive no matter what I’m wearing or how I look otherwise,” and “If my hair isn’t right, nothing else can make me feel that I look good”(3). In one study, 55% of affected women displayed symptoms of depression (4). In that same group, 89% of women experienced an improvement of those symptoms after treatment for hair loss. The effects of alopecia reach far beyond symptoms of depression and include anxiety, obsessions, dissatisfaction with one’s appearance, and low self-esteem(5, 6, 7 )
Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL), or androgenetic alopecia (AA), is the most common cause of hair loss in women and one of the most common chronic problems seen by dermatologists worldwide (8).
FPHL is a nonscarring form of alopecia in which the frontal hairline is maintained, but there is progressive hair thinning at the vertex of the scalp. Thinning of the hair is secondary to alteration of the hair cycle with shortening of the growing phase and simultaneous lengthening of resting phase. This increase in the resting phase and decrease in the growth phase of the hair cycle results in the miniaturization of hair because long terminal hairs are gradually replaced by short vellus hairs (9) .
The role of estrogen and progesterone in the treatment of hair loss and growth is helpful but unclear. Estrogen is made when androstenedione or testosterone are modified by the enzyme aromatase. It is synthesized in the ovary and other peripheral tissues and then travels to its receptors, some of which are located in scalp hair follicles (10) .
At the scalp follicle, estradiol has been reported to induce aromatase activity (11) Estrogen has been hypothesized to have a protective role against hair loss on the basis of the observation that patients with lower estrogen levels during menopause, postpartum, or treatment with aromatase inhibitors or selective estrogen receptor modulators are more likely to develop FPHL (12, 13)
Another supporting observation is that in the frontal hairline of women, which tends to be spared with FPHL, there is a higher level of aromatase enzyme when compared with the rest of the scalp (14) This variation in hair loss could be the result of locally increased levels of estradiol or decreased levels of testosterone and DHT that is secondary to greater amounts of conversion. Estrogen has been reported effective, but data are limited (15, 16). As it is thought to function through several mechanisms, including increasing the levels of sex-hormone-binding globulin (17) and sending negative feedback signals that suppress the hypothalamic secretion of gonadotropin and releases the hormone and pituitary secretion of the luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormones, which results in a decreased androgen production (18). These actions decrease androgen secretion from the ovary and the quantity of free, biologically active androgens, which reduces their effects on the hair follicles (17)
At 23MD, we can measure your sex hormone levels to try to determine if any of these are affecting your hair health, and take appropriate action to re-balance each one where necessary.
If you’re looking to improve your hair, evaluate your eating habits to see what might be lacking; the advice of a nutritionist can also help.
This mineral helps strengthen your hair follicles, and prevent hair loss, by binding its proteins. It also plays a role in your oil glands functioning properly, which protects your locks from dryness and dandruff. Zinc is also a key ingredient in making thyroid and sex hormones that help strengthen you hair follicle Shellfish, like oysters, crab, lobster, clams and mussels all have high zinc content. In fact, just three ounces of oysters (about two medium-size oysters) has a whopping 493 percent of the daily recommended value of zinc. Sunflower seeds, peanuts, pine nuts, beef, lamb, pork and cereals with whole grains and bran are some other zinc-rich foods to choose from.
Your hair’s structure is made of hardened proteins called keratin. When your protein stores are low, generation of this important building block slows and hair grows slower and weaker. Lean meats, like chicken and turkey, and fish like tuna, halibut and tilapia are great high-protein foods to include in your diet. Cheeses like mozzarella and cottage cheese, and grains like quinoa are also terrific options to consider.
Lentils are a good source of biotin—a nutrient that has been shown to promote hair growth. When biotin interacts with cell enzymes, it helps produce amino acids, compounds that form those ever-important proteins mentioned earlier. Researchers have even found that too little biotin can lead to hair loss. Carrots, almonds, walnuts and cauliflower are other smart choices to consider. If you’re interested in taking a supplement, speak with your doctor for a recommendation.
Iron is an especially important mineral for hair and too little iron is a major cause of hair loss. Iron is important to produce adequate thyroid hormones, as well as the production of haemoglobin, the oxygen carrying component of your red blood cells. Your hair follicles receive nourishing oxygen from the ironneeded to make your red blood cells. While the level of iron in your blood may be considered normal, there is still a chance that you may have low saturation levels. Low iron has been linked to slow or halted hair growth, as well as shedding. Do your best to avoid this by eating iron-rich foods, such as oysters, clams, lean beef, eggs, tuna, soybeans, spinach, tofu and garbanzo beans. Be sure to have your iron and iron saturation levels tested before considering a supplement.The hair follicle and root are fed by a nutrient rich blood supply. When iron levels fall below a certain point, you may experience anaemia. This disrupts the nutrient supply to the follicle, affecting the hair growth cycle and may result in shedding. Animal products such as red meat, chicken and fish provide iron with a high bioavailability, meaning the iron is readily available to the body. Vegetarians can raise their iron stores by including lentils, spinach and other leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, kale and salad greens.
This essential nutrient does a couple things to help promote healthy hair: Vit-C helps absorb iron. It’s also used to form collagen, a structural fibre that makes up the connective tissue in the body, which hair follicles require for optimal growth. Bell peppers, thyme, parsley, kale, Brussels sprouts, oranges and strawberries all pack a vitamin C punch.
Vitamin D has been shown to have many important functions. A growing body of evidence shows that vitamin D and its receptor are responsible for maintaining not only calcium homeostasis but also skin homeostasis. Moreover, vitamin D could also regulate cutaneous innate and adaptive immunity. The majority of studies revealed decreased serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in patients with different types of non-scarring alopecia, which could suggest its potential role in the pathogenesis of hair loss. Vitamin D supplementation could be a therapeutic option for patients with alopecia areata, female pattern hair loss, or telogen effluvium. However, further studies on a larger group of patients are required. (19)
Like Iron, B6, B12, and folic acid help create red blood cells, which carry oxygen and nutrients too all of the cells in the body, including the ones in the scalp and hair follicles. Vit-Bs are also an important ingredient for making adequate thyroid hormones. If you’re not getting enough B vitamins, the cells can starve, making your hair more prone to shedding, slower growth and breakage. Pork tenderloin is packed with these vitamins, but if you don’t eat pork, load up on beans, chicken, oatmeal and low-fat dairy foods, which are also good sources.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
Omega-3s are found in the cell membranes of your scalp’s skin, and in the natural oils your scalp and hair produce to stay hydrated. Getting enough of these essential fatty acids can help prevent dry scalp and help your hair grow and shine. Eating wild salmon and other fatty fish like striped sea bass or mackerel twice a week will ensure a healthy dose of omega-3s. Or, if you’re not a fan of fish, incorporate some plant-derived sources into your diet, like flax seeds, walnuts, soybeans and canola oil.
While your locks are made primarily of protein, they’re also made of water and need to maintain their moisture to avoid dryness and breakage. In addition to turning to a leave-in conditioner or other hydrating products to soften strands, make sure you’re also replenishing yourself by drinking plenty of water each day to quench your thirst. Eating water-rich fruits and vegetables helps hydrate your mane as well.
Horsetail, Alfalfa and Nettles. These herbs are rich in flavonoids, biotin, calcium, potassium, silica and zinc which are vital to the functioning of rapidly growing tissues such as skin and nails. These herbs nourish, strengthen and fortify the hair and nails and help the resiliency, elasticity and connective tissue of the skin.
Physiological stress can affect your hair health, whether it’s from lack of sleep, an illness, or trying to stick to the latest fad diet, your hair can suffer. Stress makes your adrenal glands work harder.. When they are forced to work too hard, they can prodoce too much hormones that may damage your hsir follicles. Also, emotional or psychological stress can lead to physiological stress. If you’re stressed out about work or a personal issue, you might stop sleeping enough or pick up junk food as an emotional outlet. This can lead to a vicious cycle of worsening health.To help this, make sure your diet and lifestyle are in check. Sleep, eat well, and make time for exercise and fun. Manage your streass, don’t let your stress manage you. It’s amazing what just a few minutes of yoga, meditation, walking, or a gratitude practice a day can do. Pick whatever you like, and stick with it!
TOXIC PRODUCTS & CHEMICALS
CHEMICAL PRODCUTS AND TREATMENT
Practically all the hair care product you see at the store are loaded with dangerous chemicals like
Sulfates are found in more than 90 percent of modern-day shampoos and body washes. But sulfates can create some nasty side effects for your hair, dulling, dryness, and brittle strands, especially when used repeatedly and frequently.
Two of the most common sulfates in these products are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). It’s easy to know if your products contain these chemicals because they’re responsible for causing the product to foam when you massage it into your scalp. Sulfates also remove oils your hair produces naturally. They strip away way more oils than necessary, which damages the hair and causes your body to work overtime to produce more oils. By ditching the conventional shampoo and conditioners and using sulphate free products, you can start to repair damaged hair and promote a brilliant shine.
It takes a few weeks to fully adjust to natural hair care products, but your hair will thrive with gentler cleansers. Another huge cause of hair damage is treating it with chemicals. Hair colourants can cause some serious problems because your hair never has the chance to heal itself between treatments. By using Henna hair dye, or other vegetable hair dye, you may protect your hair from ammonias and other bleachers that can dry out and cause damage to our hair.
Some hair problems arise from toxins in the environment. Not only is our hair exposed to the elements as we go about our days. It’s also exposed to the water we shower or swim in. If you live in an area with “hard water” (water with a high mineral content), it can affect the feel, look, and shine of your hair after you shower in it. Hard water also leaves mineral deposits on your hair which build up over time and limit your hair’s ability to intake moisture. If you’re a swimmer, chlorine in pools can also weaken your hair’s structure and make it brittle.The result? Your hair ends up dry with lots of tangles and frizz.If you live in an area with hard water, consider buying a filter for your shower to keep the minerals from depositing in your hair. It’s a good idea to get the fluoride and chlorine out anyway.
Blow dryers, flat irons, and even hot oil treatments are just a few ways we keep the heat on. Appliances and heat treatments can be harmful because they drain the moisture from your hair and cause the outer layer (cuticles) to strip off and break away from the surrounding fibers. Dry, rough hair with plenty of split ends are tell-tale signs of heat damage.You don’t have to stop using blow dryers and irons completely, but it’s smart to cut back for a while to give your hair time to heal. Air-drying takes longer, though it’s completely safe and the longer your hair is wet the more the hair shafts can absorb moisture and reach the cortex of your strands.Also, use a deep conditioner to moisturize heat-damaged hair. Opt for a conditioner without toxic chemicals like sulfates, as those will just cause more problems. Top-quality natural conditioners , with ingredients like shea butter and seed oils, will help you get the moisture your hair needs. Combine rinse-out conditioners with leave-in treatments for best results!
EXCESSIVE BRUSHING, PULLING AND WASHING
Brushing your hair when it is et can weaken and damage your hair. Heat styling tools can dry out and fry your hair, which can lead to split ends, breakage, and overall damage. If you’re going to style your hair with a hot tool, make sure you use a heat protectant spray first. When drying, be sure not to hold the hair dryer too close to your lengths, to prevent split, fluffy ends. You can blow the hairdryer onto your hand and see how fast you pull away when holding it close to your skin. To prevent breakage due to brittle hair avoid using bands and do not tie your hair too tightly. Avoid using a comb with plastic bristles to prevent hair breakage from static electricity. The best way to brush your hair is by first brushing the ends to remove tangles and then take the long stokes from the roots of the hair to the ends. This technique will help proper spreading of natural hair oil and thus prevent breakage.
Coffee is a double-edged sword. A little bit helps you stay awake and may indeed have good anti-oxidant effects, but too much caffeine can make you jittery, anxious, and headache-prone. Excessive coffee can also damage your hair. Many coffee drinkers suffer hair loss. The connection is still hotly debated, though. Some reports argue coffee might slow hair loss because of its hormonal effects. Others contend it uses up the minerals and B vitamins your body needs to keep healthy hair. Like alcohol, coffee is also a diuretic, which can cause dehydration. Too much coffee can also limit your body’s ability to absorb iron. If you are drinking more than 1 0r 2 cups of unsweetened coffee daily, its probably too much for your body to handle.
Like excessive coffee, excessive alcohol consumption can also hurt your hair! Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes accelerated dehydration throughout your body. This one’s pretty easy: just watch how much you’re drinking and make sure to hydrate on a night out. Keep your consumption to the recommended 1 -2 usints daily, and you may benefit from the antioxidant effects of alcohol frateh than from the inflammatory effects of excessive alcohol.
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