Shedding a little amount of hair, such as when you wash or comb your hair is normal. But if there’s more than usual, you could begin to feel concerned.
Common type of hair loss includes male pattern baldness, female pattern baldness and alopecia.
For a quick video on how to prevent hair loss, check this out:
How much hair loss is normal per day?
It’s normal to lose from 50 to 150 hairs per day simply by washing, brushing or picking at our hair.
There are over 100,000 hair follicles on your scalp, so shedding up to 150 won’t make much of a difference.
This is just the normal process of hair shedding. Hair shedding is natural as every one of our hairs is at a stage in their cycles. These are known as the anagen, catagen and telogen phase before reaching the final stage of falling out of exogen.
Women will typically lose more hair strands than men any given day. This is often due to different heat treatments, styling and other biological reasons such as pregnancy and menopause. Hormonal imbalance lends more hairs into the Telogen phase of growth.
The 4 stages of hair growth cycles
The anagen phase is the phase where your hair strand is growing. Most of your hair strands are in their lifecycle, growing around 1cm per month during this anagen phase. The anagen phase usually lasts on average around 3 to 5 years [source].
Catagen is the phase where your hair strands stop growing. This lasts for a short while at the end of the anagen stage, for around 7 to 14 days.
Telogen is the final phase of your hair. It’s where it begins to rest before it gets ready to fall out of your scalp. This usually lasts around three months, before the fourth phase – exogen – where your hair falls out.
Around 8-10 percent of your hairs are in the telogen phase at any one time [source].
If you suffer from stress, have been unwell you may find more of your hair sheds than normal. This is called Telogen and it means your hair has not had enough time in the growth phase. So more hairs are in the telogen phase creating an imbalance in your hair growth and volume.
Reasons for hair loss
There are so many reasons why you could be losing hair. From diabetes, thyroid conditions, poor nutrition (and vitamin/mineral deficiency), stress and skin conditions.
Key issues in the modern western way of life will include increased stress whether through personal circumstances or work, and nutritional deficiencies when adopting new diets, or eating unhealthy fast-foods.
Stress & Hormonal Changes causes Hair Loss
Hormonal changes, such as menopause or increase in stress hormone Cortisol, can increase the amount of hair you lose.
Stress and cortisol cause the growth phase (anagen) to cut short, throwing more hair into the Telogen Effluvium phase. This results in excessive daily shedding of hair.
When we’re stressed, our diets suffer, we may pick our scalp for comfort, we essentially create trauma to our scalp.
This has a spiral effect into creating reasons other than stress (cortisol) for hair loss.
4 healthy ways to reduce stress and help promote hair growth include:
- Regular exercise
- Getting enough sleep
Nutritional deficiencies also contribute to excessive hair loss
Our hair follicles are metabolically active and can be affected by nutritional deficiency. However, this topic is more complex than most people would lead you to believe. With the supplement industry unregulated, most companies use marketing tactics to have you believe their vitamins and minerals will help grow your hair.
Research indicates the following vitamins to have a correlation to hair health and growth:
Iron has been linked to a chronic diffuse hair loss, particularly among women. Diffuse hair loss is where your hair has less density and is brought about as an onset of Telogen Effluvium. As Iron is necessary for red blood cell production, which transport oxygen around your cells, there may be causal link. However, there is insufficient evidence of Iron supporting the growth of hair in the absence of anaemia [source].
In a study of 312 patients with Male Pattern Hair Loss, Female Pattern Hair Loss and Telogen Effluvium, it was found there was a lower zinc concentration than in 30 healthy people [source].
Zinc may be able to reverse hair loss and improve alopecia if supplemented correctly. Too much zinc may cause toxic effects such as reduced immune functions and nausea [source].
Niacin (Vitamin B3)
Pellegra is a disease caused by a lack of Vitamin B3 (Niacin) which has symptoms ranging from dementia, skin inflammation and diarrhoea.
It was found a severe deficiency in Niacin had an effect of diffuse hair loss due to pellagra [source].
Omega Fatty Acids
Low intake of omega fatty acids has been linked to loss of hair.
There are several reasons why this can help, and research suggests that omega fatty acids provide essential proteins to hair, prevents inflammation and helps promote circulation.
Selenium is an important essential amino acid which our bodies cannot produce. It has a range of important body functions without which we fail to function.
Studies have shown that selenium deficiency was linked to dry skin and sparse hair in both humans and animals, which improved with supplementation. However, excess supplementation can have the adverse effect of causing hair-loss, so it’s best to monitor your intake of this supplement by obtaining your nutritional needs through your diet primarily [source].
Research shows a correlation between a lack of Vitamin D and hair loss. This is because Vitamin D helps promote the new development of hair follicles. Without Vitamin D, hair growth and hair volume maybe affected.
There is also a link between a lack of Vitamin D and alopecia. People with alopecia were found to have low levels of Vitamin D [source].
While allegedly rare, biotin deficiency can cause hair loss and other physical ailments such as brittle nails.
Biotin helps promote keratin, a hair protein which makes up a large portion of your hair.
Hair is usually described as being mostly protein. Protein (and amino-acids – the building blocks of protein) are essential therefore for the development of hair.
Other, natural remedies for hair loss
Massage oils into your scalp
Traditional Indian remedies for healthy hair growth include massaging your scalp with oils.
Massaging your scalp with oil stimulates blood flow to your scalp, helps with new hair follicle growth.
Rosemary, Peppermint, Olive, Coconut, jojoba and Castor oil have been considered to have many useful benefits in nourishing and developing your hair.
Onion Juice has been used in patients with alopecia, by applying it onto the patches, helped stimulate more hair growth than plain water. It does this by boosting antioxidant enzymes and providing your hair follicles with sulphur, necessary for minimizing hair thinning and regeneration of hair [source].
Things to avoid
Tight hairstyles, hot oil treatments and chemical based products are counter-productive for helping your hair growth. As is too much heat treatment with hairdryers and straighteners, curlers.
Top 5 Tips to Maximise Hair Growth
Number 1 – Control your cortisol levels through meditation
Stress releases a chemical called cortisol into your body, which can cause the growth phase of your hair to not complete its full cycle, i.e. it cuts short.
Which means, more hair goes into the telogen lifecycle and begins to shed.
Some common ways to reduce stress include:
- Practicing yoga
- Getting enough sleep
Number 2 – Increase your Zinc, Iron and Vitamin D levels
Your hair relies on vitamins, proteins and minerals.
Studies show there is a correlation between vitamin and mineral deficiency with hair loss, with patients showing lower concentration of Zinc and Vitamin D than those with good hair growth.
Iron and Vitamin B12 contributes to an increase in red blood cells, which help transport oxygen and fuel to your cells that can help stimulate the growth cycle of your hair.
Number 3 – Increase your intake of Omega Fatty Acids
Omega acids help provide anti-inflammatory properties, and supplementation could prevent or reverse hair-loss, where the cause of hair loss is due to the inflammation of the scalp, or poor circulation.
Number 4 – Increase your protein intake
As your hair is made up of a protein called Keratin, supplementing protein can help lead to an increase in hair volume.
If you’re on a vegan or vegetarian diet, it is also recommended to supplement with essential amino acids.
Number 5 – massage oils into your scalp
We have discussed in other articles the benefit of massaging oils into your scalp.
Focus on Coconut and Castor Oils, and if possible, blend equal parts together. Let them melt before applying to your scalp.
These oils will help lock in protein and prevent hair loss while washing and styling. They also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which can help prevent or reverse hair loss if the cause is an inflammation or free-radical chaos.
While there are many reasons for hair loss, in the absence of genetic causes or trauma the primary reasons are often stress or nutritionally induced.
By controlling your stress through meditation and exercising, to managing your diet to ensure you are obtaining your macro and micronutrients, you can help stimulate your hair growth and get shinier, richer hair.