As part of an ongoing effort to raise the conversation around women’s hair thinning and empower women to take charge of their hair health, our team of experts and physician partners are sharing their knowledge to arm you with the facts. This week is all about the right balance of diet and supplementation to support hair through menopause.
Menopause is a unique chapter of life. Beginning as early as a woman’s 40s, it brings a slew of hormonal changes that can affect everything from sleep to mood to hair.
Particularly for hair, lower levels of estrogen and progesterone that occur during menopause can cause natural changes that increase the effects of DHT (a hormone involved in miniaturizing the hair follicle) and starve hair follicles of vital nutrients necessary for hair growth. But with the right blend of diet and supplementation, you can feed your hair exactly what it needs to grow through menopause.
Below, we’re highlighting the top five nutrients for healthy hair growth during menopause, as well as the best foods to get them from. On top of making changes to your diet, a supplement like Nutrafol Women’s Balance is a good way to get all of these nutrients (and more!) to take control of hair health through menopause.
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Vitamin D’s role in keeping our bodies in balance extends all the way to hair health. This vital nutrient helps to lower the inflammatory response, support a healthy immune system, and aid in blood sugar balance. When these three things fall out of harmony, a number of health issues, including compromised hair growth, can occur. Vitamin D also helps the body properly absorb other important nutrients — such as zinc, selenium, iron, and calcium — that influence hair health.
Where to get it: Vitamin D can be found in foods such as salmon and other oily fish, mushrooms, fortified animal and plant milks, pork (especially chops) and eggs.
A potent antioxidant, vitamin C helps protect the cells of our body from the damage of oxidative stress. This is especially important as we age and our internal levels of oxidative stress increase. Collagen, which is crucial for strengthening and supporting our hair follicles, can be damaged by this stress. This is doubly impactful to hair during menopause, when our ability to produce collagen and respond effectively to oxidative stress naturally decreases. Vitamin C helps us produce collagen and assists in fighting off cell-damaging stressors. Vitamin C has also been found to have a significant effect on decreasing sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the hormone connected to slowing down hair production and regrowth
Where to get it: The best foods for vitamin C include guava, kiwi, bell peppers, tomato, papaya, strawberries, broccoli, kale, and oranges.
We now know that natural collagen production decreases as we reach menopausal age, but it’s even more impacted by menopause itself. This is partially due to declining estrogen, which normally works hard to protect and enhance production of skin-supportive substances like collagen. With less collagen being made, many menopausal women report sudden skin aging. This decrease in collagen can also impact scalp repair, along with repair of blood vessels, which are essential for delivering nutrients to hair follicles.
When choosing a collagen supplement, studies show that hydrolyzed collagen (which has been partially broken down from its whole form) is easier for our bodies to absorb. Hydrolyzed collagen has also been shown to improve skin hydration, elasticity, firmness, and texture in women of menopausal age when taken consistently, especially with other supportive nutrients.
Where to get it: Foods that contain collagen include bone broth, salmon, and eggs. As collagen sources in food are fewer, Nutrafol Women’s Balance is a great way to get this nutrient. The hydrolyzed collagen used in Nutrafol is bioavailable (aka, more easily absorbed) and sustainably sourced from the scales of North Atlantic cod.
Thyroid dysfunction is a common issue for women in general, but even more so when we reach the time of postmenopause. Iodine and thyroid health go hand-in-hand, as iodine helps control thyroid function and is essential to making our thyroid hormones. Too little iodine has the power to stop thyroid hormone production in its tracks, creating a dramatic impact on metabolism, mood, energy, and hair growth.
When it comes to hair health, balanced thyroid hormones are needed to send hair follicles the signal to grow — and stay growing. Issues with thyroid hormones are commonly associated with hair thinning and brittleness. Thyroid health deserves extra attention as we reach menopause because, with age, both iodine collection efficiency and the amount of thyroid hormones our bodies create go down. To keep our thyroid functioning at its best, getting adequate amounts of iodine (150 mg per day for adult women) is recommended.
Where to get it: Iodine-containing foods include seaweed, navy beans, saltwater fish, seaweed, lima beans, cow’s milk, cheese, and eggs.
Impacting everything from DNA synthesis to the all-important collagen production, zinc helps keep the hair growth cycle functioning at its best. When zinc is low, oxidative stress, inflammation, and DNA damage can all increase — which is why zinc is so essential during menopause, a time when the body is already facing increased oxidative stressors and producing less collagen. Zinc plays a role in hair health by turning food into fuel for the hair growth cycle. Additionally, adequate levels of zinc are crucial for stimulating hair building. Low levels of zinc can hamper hair growth, leading to whitening of the hair and increased hair shedding.
Where to get it: A number of zinc-rich foods can be brought into your diet, including oysters, meat, lentils, hemp seeds, lentils, oatmeal, and shiitake mushrooms. Daily intake of zinc should not exceed 40 mg unless directed by a physician. You can get an effective dose of 25 mg of zinc by taking Nutrafol Women’s Balance.