Photo Courtesy of Natasha Leeds

If you notice excessive hair loss all over the scalp, it may be a sign of a nutrient deficiency.

Hair is a fast-growing tissue that grows one centimeter per month inside pockets called hair follicles. At the base of the follicle is the hair bulb, where cells divide and push their way up to form a single strand of hair. Under the hair bulb lies the dermal papilla, which is responsible for taking nourishment from the body’s blood to keep hair growing and healthy. Other things such as waste, hormones, and drugs are also carried to and from the dermal papilla, which can affect hair growth when there is a big or slight change in the body. This type of hair loss is called diffuse hair loss. It takes place when there is an imbalance within the body. This change in the body can be temporary and the body either corrects it or needs help correcting it.

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This type of hair loss is not permanent. The anagen phase is the hair growth phase is suspended by the internal problem. As a result, more of your hair dives into the resting phase (i.e. the telogen phase) and your hair sheds more than it grows. The hair loss or breakage stops once the problem is addressed and fixed. You may need nutritional supplements or medications to remedy the problem.

The most common nutritional deficiency that causes diffuse hair loss and hair breakage is iron-deficiency anemia. Low iron can take place after you have a baby, bleeding heavily during menstruation and excessive blood loss. You may feel tired even though you get enough sleep or out of breath doing simple tasks.Even if you are not anemic, you may have low iron levels that can still cause diffuse hair loss. Signs to look out for with your hair include dry, brittle hair that brakes off easily and a lighter hair color.

Here are other mineral deficiencies, such as zinc, calcium, and magnesium, that contribute to hurting your hair as well.

-Zinc helps us to have a healthy immune system, producing energy, and protein synthesis. Zinc deficiency causes hair to break off and feel dry. You may notice white spots on your fingernails and scaly, acne-prone skin.
-Calcium is responsible for us having healthy bones and teeth and aids with the secretion of hormones. Hormones, like androgens, influence hair growth and hair loss by the amounts of androgens present in the hair follicle. Each person’s sensitivity to them.
-Magnesium helps with energy production, and help nerves operate at their best, but a magnesium deficiency can cause hormone imbalance. For women, it can increase testosterone, which leads to excessive facial hair, diffuse hair loss, androgenetic alopecia, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

How do vitamin deficiencies affect hair growth?


-Vitamin A plays an important role in helping the skin function properly. If you are deficient, you may have scaly skin and dry hair that is prone to breakage.
-B 12 vitamins are necessary for red blood cell production. If a deficiency is present, it can lead to anemia, which can lead to excessive hair loss.
-Vitamin C deficiency can lead to excessive hair loss all over the scalp, and dry brittle hair that grows slow. Vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron, and a deficiency can lead to anemia.

If you feel that you have a mineral or vitamin deficiency that is causing hair loss, breakage, or brittle hair, go to your primary care physician immediately to find out for sure. They will run appropriate test to diagnose and treat you.

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