Is it just me or is my hair thinning? One day you look in the mirror and suddenly notice your part is a little wider or your ponytail is a little smaller – and if you have had a baby, well…thinning hair is really common. Here are some of the most common causes and what you can do to fight them.
- “Of course, it was bound to happen to me—after all, baldness runs in my family.”
- “Uh, oh, too much styling has finally caught up with me.”
- “Well, I’m post-menopausal, so what did you expect? The hair has moved from my head to my chin!”
- “I just had a baby—that’s one of the prices you pay.”
Healthy Hair – From the Inside Out
What you put IN your body reflects in your hair and overall well-being. Thinning hair is never caused by just one thing – not even heredity. Because all that really means is that your body is sensitive to a hormone, substance, or something in the environment – and that can be combatted.
Those causes also have a way of working together and creating a domino effect of reactions to give you that double, triple or even quadruple whammy. For instance, consider hormone imbalance, drastic weight loss and vitamin deficiencies and see how they work together. The weight loss may be the result of an unbalanced diet or illness or stress, triggering the vitamin deficiency, all of which then trigger hormone challenges.
What are Some Common Causes of Thinning Hair?
We’ve done a lot of research to find out all the possible causes of hair thinning.
It always comes back to diet. Eat healthfully, get enough protein, vitamins and minerals – such as zinc and antioxidants; as well as other substances – such as essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Something we have written about before is that zinc is one of the most important minerals for promoting hair growth. We have also covered what foods you can eat that have the highest content of zinc.
When stress is chronic, it floods the body with two “fight or flight” hormones – cortisol and adrenaline – which in turn cause anxiety and lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation is then related to three other hormones that regulate appetite and energy. Ghrelin, known as the “hunger hormone”, is increased, so you will be more prone to eating a lot of sugary, fatty foods, bags of potato chips and junk ‘comfort foods’ to keep your energy levels up. Leptin, which lowers your energy and increases your appetite, will decrease when you don’t sleep well, while your cortisol levels rise, so you are getting even more of that “fight or flight”.
This adds up to some pretty unbalanced hormones, which in itself can lead to thinning hair – not to mention unhealthy eating: Really, are you going to make that green smoothie or sautéed fish and veggie plate when you are exhausted?
By the way, those bags of potato or corn chips that you want to devour? Cravings usually mean something, and salt and crunch is related to anxiety…See how that all works together?
Besides stress (and the above-mentioned explanation), there are also diseases, ailments and lifestyle events that can throw your hormones out of whack. For instance, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) increases testosterone, which then increases androgenic activity. For women, that translates to extra hair on the face, but thinning hair on the head. Pregnancy also floods the body with hormones that will sometimes give you bright, shiny hair, but it also creates great physical stress on the body – and that can trigger hair loss
Too little – or too much – of a vitamin
It’s important to get the right dosage of vitamins. For example, Vitamin A is absolutely critical to slow the aging process, and aging is one of the main causes of hair loss. However, too much vitamin A can interfere with the absorption of Vitamin D which – research is showing more and more – is important to promote hair growth.
Anemia, an iron deficiency, can be caused by poor diet. It can even be the result of an absorption problem and, if you are iron-deficient, you may well be deficient in another vitamin, mineral or substance.
Certain drugs alleviate medical conditions but they can also cause the hair follicles to go into their resting stage in the hair growth cycle. Chemotherapy is probably the one we are most familiar with. Also blood pressure and thyroid drugs, anti-depressants, antibiotics, immune suppressants and acne medications can cause thinning hair. Even over the-counter ibuprofen and NSAIDS can do it. If you have any questions, talk to your doctor about the possibility of safely transitioning to a different drug.
Smoking’s negative effects are well-documented and now you can add another one – according to Medic 8, research has shown a link associating smoking with hair loss.
Smoking cuts off oxygen and blood supply, which follicles need for nourishment so the hair can grow. It accelerates the aging process and affects the overall condition of hair.
By Now, You Probably Get it
Hair loss is not caused by just one thing. The follicle, from which hair always grows, is a mini-organ that can be affected to disrupt hair growth. Looking at all the possible causes and treating your entire body, is the best way to delay thinning hair long term.