Tired of sweeping countless strands of hair on the floor? Or are you losing sleep over a receding hairline? Then it’s probably time to get up and take control of your hairfall. A normal individual loses about 70-100 strands of hair daily which are replaced by new strands. But in case of severe hairfall, the quantity of hair lost each day increases with or without a reduced rate of newer hair growth.
Hair loss is a concern for both men and women, but more visible in men. About 50 per cent men complain of thinning of hair along with a receding hairline by the age of 45 or more. In case of women, the complaints of thinning of hair or severe hairfall start around the age of 50 or post-menopause.
Why do we lose hair?
The most common reason for hair loss is the male hormone testosterone, which is also found in women. Increased consumption of medication could also cause hairfall. Hormonal changes in women during periods of pregnancy, lactation, menopause or thyroid disease are also responsible for increased hair loss. Inadequate intake of protein, low levels of iron and zinc or a deficiency of essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) results in increased hairloss.
Dealing with hair loss
It is important to provide every follicle the nutrition it needs. Substantial intake of quality protein via non-vegetarian or vegetarian sources is a must. You can opt for soyabean and soy products, pulses, lentils, milk, curd and nuts. Iron can also be obtained from other sources like green leafy vegetables, gardencress seeds, dates, raisins, eggs etc.
Nuts and seeds are good sources of magnesium and zinc, that promote hair nourishment. Fish, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts, mustard seeds and soyabean are also good sources of essential fatty acids that promote hair nourishment.
The health of your hair depends on the circulation to the scalp and the nutrients in your blood. Regular exercise will stimulate circulation. Coriander juice with mint and curry leaf juice helps provide beneficial nutrients.
Silica and biotin are other nutrients that are proven to be good for the hair. The organic form of silica or orthosilicic acid has proved to improve hair growth and texture. Providing silica via foods like bean sprouts, cucumbers, red and green bell peppers or supplements could be of tremendous help. Biotin helps improve the metabolism of the scalp surface. It is present in foods like eggs, goat liver, yeast, whole grain cereals etc.
Foods high in sugar content, caffeine, alcohol can increase hairfall due to the production of cortisols and stress hormones. Research also proves that smoking leads to faster graying of hair. Topical application of almond oil, castor oil or olive oil on the scalp has shown to be beneficial. Herbs like tulsi, brahmi, amla, rosemary, sage and triphala improve the health of the scalp and reduce hairloss.
One should also take care while washing hair. Don’t over dry your hair as it becomes brittle. Use mild shampoos and conditioners. Using hot water for washing, irons and hot blowdryers can also damage hair. Be gentle while brushing and combing your hair.
Hairfall is a manifestation of the body’s health status. Prolonged hairfall should not be ignored, diet should be modified and medical help should be sought before the problem gets out of hand.
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre