For more than forty years, the expert team at The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research has been helping men and women from all over the world deal with hair loss. During that time, board certified dermatologist and world-renowned hair restoration expert Dr. Edmond Griffin has heard just about every possible question about this all too common condition. At The Griffin Center, we have always believed in the importance of patient education and so, in this recurring blog feature, we will provide answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about hair loss and hair restoration.
QUESTION: I just recently turned forty and although I try to eat right and spend a great deal of time exercising, I have started to notice some early signs of aging. In particular, the hair along my frontal hair line and temples seems to have become thinner and my scalp is more visible. I know that there are many different treatments available for what I assume is typical genetic pattern baldness, but I was also wondering if there was anything that I could do, in terms of diet and exercise, to help encourage new hair growth or at least keep the hair I have healthy.
ANSWER: There are many different causes of hair loss, and while some will be affected by your diet or by other external factors, others will not. Genetic pattern baldness (otherwise known as androgenetic alopecia) is the result of an inherited sensitivity to certain natural hormones, so it is unlikely that it will be affected by what you eat. However, even though it is by far the most common cause of hair loss in both men and women, there are many other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. I would recommend that you visit a board-certified dermatologist who has experience treating hair loss and get a full diagnosis. This will help determine whether the cause of your hair loss is genetic or if it is the result of an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed. Every case of hair loss requires a diagnosis because without one it is impossible to be sure whether a specific treatment method is right for you.
That having been said, it is important to remember that the hair growth cycle begins in the follicle, deep beneath the surface of the skin, so what you put into your body can have an effect on hair growth. Hair strands are made primarily of protein, so not getting enough can be detrimental to your hair. There have been patients who have experienced noticeable hair loss after significant weight loss. Natural, healthy sources of protein include lean meat (in the form of chicken, fish, or pork), quinoa, soy, whole grains, or even various beans, but I would caution you to avoid some protein supplements. We have also found that the ingredients in certain work-out shakes can potentially accelerate hair loss in patients suffering from certain forms of hair loss. While some of these protein shakes may be beneficial, there is a greater number that actively contribute to hair loss, so be sure to consult with our hair loss specialists before attempting to artificially supplement your protein intake.
Additionally, there are several vitamins and minerals that play important roles in hair growth as well. Vitamin B12, for example, promotes healthy hair growth by helping in the formation of red blood cells. Iron is involved in the production of the proteins that make up hair and helps cells carry oxygen vital to the hair follicles. Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in salmon or walnuts, help make up the natural oils that keep your hair hydrated. Finally, small amounts of vitamin D, vitamin E, and trace minerals like selenium, copper, and magnesium are all necessary to keep your hair in good shape. While various shampoos and homeopathic remedies may be able to apply these nutrients directly to the hair, the best source of nutrients is always a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Every aspect of your body is connected, so it is not unreasonable to think that nutrition can play a role in hair growth. However, every patient, and every case of hair loss, is different, so even similar symptoms can result from very different causes in different patients. Only a detailed diagnostic examination can really determine exactly what you need. If you or someone you love is experiencing hair loss and would like to learn more about what we can do for you, please contact The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research or The Griffin Center for Women’s Hair Loss to schedule a consultation. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to get the latest news in hair restoration and research.