The holiday season is just around the corner, and while we’re busy planning festive gatherings and selecting the perfect outfits, let’s not forget about our crowning glory – our hair. Achieving healthy and thick holiday hair requires more than just styling products: it begins with nourishing your locks from within. In this blog post, we’ll explore how hormone health and a diet rich in supportive vitamins can contribute to beautiful holiday hair.
Healthy hair begins with adequate nutrition. The following are some of the top vitamins for hair growth and shine:
Biotin is one of the B vitamins and is thought to play a crucial role in promoting healthy hair growth. Dietary sources of biotin include whole eggs, mushrooms, wheat germ, and oats. In addition to incorporating these foods into your diet, you can consider adding a biotin supplement.
Biotin supplementation is especially beneficial for those who have risk factors for biotin deficiency, such as irritable bowel patients. One study found that 38% of women with hair loss concerns had low serum biotin levels, and 11% of those women also had risk factors for deficiency.
Found predominantly in fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for overall health and can contribute to shiny and moisturized hair. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in certain nuts and vegetable oils, such as safflower oil. Like Omega-3’s, these healthy fats help nourish the scalp and strengthen hair follicles, reducing the risk of breakage and premature hair loss.
The evidence is not just anecdotal: a 2017 study found that 6 months of supplementation with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids significantly reduced the resting phase of hair growth and increased the rate of anagen (new growth) hair. The result was stronger, thicker hair in the test subjects compared to the control group.
Iron and zinc deficiencies can contribute to hair loss. Low iron, in particular, can trigger a condition called “telogen effluvium.” The telogen phase is the “resting” phase of the hair cycle. Telogen effluvium prolongs this phase and causes a sudden increase in shedding of the hair, resulting in thinning and even bald spots.
If you want gorgeous holiday hair, ensure your diet includes iron-rich foods like spinach, lentils, and red meat, and zinc-rich foods such as beef, fortified cereal, and oats. If you have dietary restrictions, consider consulting with a functional medicine practitioner to determine if you need supplements.
Vitamins A is also commonly known as retinol, and its functions include maintaining cell turnover rate and regulation of hair follicle stem cells. Dose dependent retinoic acid has been shown to increase hair thickness and strength.
It is important to consult with a functional medicine provider prior to starting Vitamin A supplementation. This is because excess intake can actually reverse retinol’s regulatory properties and cause hair loss.
Among other things, vitamin C is important in maintaining capillary strength and, therefore, circulation. Adequate blood flow to the scalp ensures regular cell turnover and hair follicle health. Vitamin C is also important in those with iron deficiency, as it increases the body’s ability to absorb it through the intestinal tract. Vitamin C is found in high levels in citrus fruits, bell peppers, tomatoes, and cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc.).
Vitamin D plays a role in creating new hair follicles. Most of our vitamin D is absorbed through the skin via sunlight; but this can be difficult to come by in the winter months, so your provider may recommend supplementation or dietary changes if you are experiencing signs of Vitamin D deficiency.
One of the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency is hair loss. It has been linked to alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that results in circular bald patches on the scalp. However, vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to general hair loss in women without AA.
Dietary sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, cheese, milk, sardines, tuna, and fortified cereal. For those unable to accommodate a deficiency via dietary changes, a Vitamin D supplement may be suggested by your healthcare provider.
Hormones play a pivotal role in all of your body’s functions, and this includes the hair cycle. Progesterone, for example, prevents the conversion of testosterone to DHT, a hormone that can cause hair follicles to shrink and result in excess shedding. Low levels of progesterone mean higher levels of DHT and greater chance of hair loss.
Thyroid hormones are also important in hair growth regulation. An imbalance in these hormones can lead to prolonged rest periods in the hair cycle, leading to thinning.
Stress is almost inevitable during the holiday season. Unfortunately, however, high levels of stress signal the body to release cortisol and corticosterone. These adrenal hormones affect hair follicle stem cell growth and the synthesis of skin elements necessary for new growth.
A silver lining is that holiday stress does not necessarily equal dull holiday hair. In many cases, you may not notice stress-related hair loss until several months after a stressful period. If you notice more hair on your brush or in the shower in the spring, thank all that holiday stress.
Hormonal hair loss is extremely common and can often be reversed simply by addressing an imbalance with bio-identical hormone replacement therapy.
Whether you want to look your best at the office party or are looking to impress the family, healthy holiday hair is completely achievable. While serums, masques, and other self care products claim to boost hair health and volume, they can only do so much. This is especially true if your hair loss or breakage is due to a hormonal imbalance and/or dietary insufficiency.
Before you spend any more money on beauty products, consult with a qualified functional medicine practitioner to look for ways to boost your hair’s natural beauty from within. Functional medicine utilizes a holistic approach to address the underlying cause of symptoms as opposed to just treating the symptoms themselves. Through a combination of dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, and bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, you can have beautiful hair all year long.
At Balanced Body Health & Wellness, we pride ourselves on our creative strategies for achievable, noticeable results. Call or go online today to schedule your appointment. Or, set up a free 15 minute phone consultation. We look forward to working with you!