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Hair Falling Out? Why Your Diet May Be to Blame

  • Category: LiveSmart
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  • Written By: Baldwin

cartoon of a woman with a concerned look on her face, holding a hairbrush full of hair in one hand and a lock if hair in the other hand.

You may be surprised by how much the foods you eat, or don't eat, affect hair loss.

Noticing more hair than usual on your brush or the floor rather than on your head? Hair loss can be caused by a number of different things, but whatever the cause, it can be unsettling to see your hair falling out. Knowing what's to blame may help you correct the underlying problem.

What causes hair loss?

There are many causes of hair loss, some temporary and others permanent. You may experience hereditary balding. Your hair may be thinning due to certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, lupus, hyperthyroidism or alopecia areata. Hair loss can occur from some medications or medical treatments. Or your hair may be falling out due to your diet.

Is it common for diet to cause hair loss?

Many people don't think their diet can cause hair loss, but it is actually a common occurrence. Your body is sensitive to nutrient deficiencies, and if you don't get enough of certain nutrients, the result may be that your hair stops growing and starts falling out. Very low-calorie diets or those that restrict certain food groups may cause hair loss due to nutrient deficiencies. Stress from rapid weight loss may also cause hair to fall out. Luckily, this is usually temporary and hair will grow back once the nutrient deficiency is corrected and your body is no longer stressed by losing a lot of weight quickly.

What may be missing from my diet if my hair is falling out?

Here are some key dietary elements that may be causing you to lose hair:

  • Biotin – Not getting enough biotin in your diet can cause your hair to become brittle and fall out. Good sources of this vitamin include eggs, whole grains, soy and yeast.
  • Iron – Too little iron can disrupt the nutrient supply to your hair follicles. This can stop the hair growth cycle, causing hair loss. Good sources of iron include dark leafy greens, legumes, beef, poultry and sardines.
  • Vitamin C – If you don't get enough of this vitamin, it's harder for your body to absorb iron, which is needed for hair growth. Good sources include citrus fruits, green peppers and potatoes.
  • Zinc – A trace mineral that you must get through food because your body can't produce it, not getting enough zinc can lead to hair loss. Good sources include pumpkin seeds, oysters and beef.
  • Selenium – Another essential trace mineral, not enough selenium in your diet can affect the health of your hair follicles. Good sources include brazil nuts, fish and brown rice.
  • Protein – Since your hair is made up of protein, you may experience hair loss if you don't eat enough of it in your diet. Eating too much protein may also lead to hair loss because it can cause you to become deficient in biotin.

Other nutrients that may affect hair loss include vitamin D, vitamin B12, folate, riboflavin and copper. Not consuming enough essential fatty acids may also cause hair to break or fall out. Be sure to eat enough healthy fats every day, such as avocados, fatty fish like salmon and sardines, olive oil, nuts and seeds.

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Date Last Reviewed: October 12, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Jane Schwartz, RDN, CLT

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