Part 2: Vitamins and Minerals
Do you think the generic multi-vitamin that you take daily is sufficient for your overall health including your hair and scalp? Possibly, but how do we know for sure? If you searched recently for thinning hair solutions, you would find yourself overwhelmed with ads for topicals, shampoos, and supplements all aimed to grow your hair. There is typically a reason for hair thinning. Recognizing the root of the problem can be more difficult. We must look at many different factors, i.e., hormones, thyroid, lifestyle, nutrition, stress, environmental toxins. Fortunately, we now have the technology at our fingertips to identify some of the triggers that may lead to hair loss. Our Hair Follicle Test is an epigenetic test providing access to nutritional and environmental factors to help the patient optimize their overall health.
We want to focus on the Vitamin and Mineral section of the Optimize Hair, Skin, and Nails Report. Vitamins and minerals are also known as Micronutrients. The majority of vitamins and mineral must come from diet and nutrition. The human body is unable to make most of the micronutrients that are essential. While our bodies only require a small amount of these organic nutrients, they are essential for life. In addition, micronutrients play a major role in the hair follicle cycle with cellular turnover and how rapidly the cells divide. Deficiency or even over supplementation of vitamins and minerals may be causing your hair thinning.
When thinking about hair and scalp health, it is important to recognize the need for the optimal balance of vitamin and mineral levels. Let’s look at the top micronutrients and the foods to include for hair and scalp health: Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Iron, Selenium, and Zinc.
Essential Vitamins for Healthy Hair
Vitamin A, also known as Retinol, is a fat-soluble vitamin that is stored in the liver. Achieving an equilibrium of Vitamin A is extremely important. In excessive quantities, this micronutrient can cause toxicity. Vitamin A is one of the micronutrients that can hinder hair growth and cause hair loss if you consume too much or over-supplement. The maximum tolerable amount is 10,000IU per day. The top five food sources of Vitamin A: beef liver, sweet potato, spinach, raw carrots, and ricotta cheese.
Known as Vitamin B Complex due to the eight water-soluble components: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B7 (biotin), folate, and B12. Hair loss is shown in those that are deficient in B2, biotin, folate, and B12. Riboflavin-rich foods include eggs, organ meats, lean meats, low-fat milk, green vegetables, and fortified cereals and grain products. Dietary sources of Vitamin B7 or Biotin include meat, fish, eggs, organ meats, seeds, nuts, sweet potatoes, spinach, and broccoli. The best foods containing Folate are beef liver, asparagus, brussels sprouts, dark green leafy vegetables, oranges and orange juice, nuts, beans, and peas. B12 sources are clams, beef liver, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and milk. Other products are fortified with B12 including some dairy products, cereals, and nutritional yeasts
In a person with an iron deficiency, it is important to understand how essential Vitamin C is to assist with the absorption of iron in the intestine. Vitamin C also needs to be consumed through food sources such as citrus fruits, potatoes, tomatoes, green peppers, and cabbage.
Vitamin D is fat soluble and helps to maintain adequate levels of calcium and phosphorus in your body and is believed to exert an anti-inflammatory effect. Vitamin D occurs in very few food groups. The best sources are trout, salmon, tuna, mackerel, and other fatty fish. Beef liver, egg yolks, and cheese have very small amounts of Vitamin D. In the US, milk is fortified with Vitamin D at a rate of 120IU per cup.
Vitamin E contains tocotrienols and are known to be potent antioxidants. There is a correlation between oxidative stress and hair loss. Hair loss patients commonly exhibit lower levels of antioxidants in their scalp area. Dietary sources of Vitamin E are wheat germ, sunflower, safflower oils, almonds, seeds, spinach, and broccoli. In addition, some companies add Vitamin E to their products.
The Minerals for Healthy Hair
Iron deficiency is one of the top nutritional deficiencies, especially among women. It is debated if low levels of iron could contribute to hair loss, but there does seem to be a correlation when serum ferritin levels are low. As we learned in the Vitamin C paragraph, iron in plant foods is better absorbed by the body when eaten with Vitamin C rich foods. Iron food sources are lean meat, seafood, poultry, beans, lentils, spinach, kidney beans, and peas. Iron-fortified food products like cereals or grains are also optional.
Selenium is an essential trace element that the body needs to stay healthy. Selenium does carry a risk of toxicity in amounts ingested above 400mcg per day. One important function of selenium is with the thyroid gland. Thyroid imbalances can be a cause of hair loss so it makes sense that making sure you get adequate amounts of selenium is important. Foods rich in Selenium include seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, breads, cereals, and other grain products.
Zinc is also an essential trace element and must be supplied through the diet since the body cannot make it on its own. Zinc deficiency is well known in patients diagnosed with Alopecia Areata. Supplementing with Zinc has shown increased hair regrowth in those patients. The ideal dietary sources of Zinc are oysters, red meat, poultry, and dairy products. Vegetarian sources that provide some zinc are beans, nuts, whole grains, and fortified cereals.
As you can see, eating a balance of vitamin-rich food is important to healthy scalp and hair. Finding the right balance is often frustrating, and because of the hair growth cycle, could take months to know that you are on the right track. Our Hair Follicle Test is the gateway to new information arming you with the knowledge to make optimal choices to maintain a healthy homeostasis in your body.
Hair Follicle Test
How do you know if you are eating the right vitamins and minerals for healthy hair and scalp? Our Epigenetic Hair Follicle test includes vitamin and mineral indicators in a 30 plus page report that is personalized for you. The new innovative test can be done In-Office or from the comfort of your own home with our At-Home test. In addition to the vitamin and mineral profile, our epigenetic test also reveals amino acids, antioxidants, fatty acids, and environmental stressors, arming you with the knowledge of changes that you can make to improve your overall scalp and hair health.