The follicular unit is an organ composed of groups of 1-4 hairs, and oil glands, nerves, blood vessels and muscles, wrapped in collagen. The follicular unit contains layers of specialized cells that support hair growth. There is a bulge which contains a nest of stem cells for hair regeneration. And, there are skin cells. Preserving the follicular unit ensures maximum survival and growth of the hair.
The hair continuously cycles through a growth phase, a degeneration phase and a resting phase. And, just like our skin, hair follicles age. The promotion of hair follicle growth is strongly influenced by hormones, growth factors and proteins.
During menopause hormone status changes and many women experience hair loss. Many foods contain precursors to hormone synthesis, and also exert a direct impact on the structure, growth and maintenance of hair and skin. Poor nutrition is a major factor in hair loss.
Cysteine and methionine are precursors to keratin hair protein synthesis. L-lysine s found in the inner part of the hair root and controls hair shape and volume.
Fats in the diet are involved in hormone synthesis, and hair retention.
Vitamin C is involved with creating of the hair shaft and a lack of Vitamin C can indirectly cause hair loss. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and low levels cause aging of the hair follicles.
The B Vitamins
All of the B vitamins are important for hair growth.
- Folate is necessary for the production of red blood cells and hemoglobin which carry oxygen and nutrients to support tissue growth. Folate is responsible for helping to rebuild hair follicles, to prevent graying hair and falling out. It also regulates the oil glands.
- B5 (pantothenic acid) prevents early graying and can restore natural color. It helps increase the diameter of each hair so hair looks fuller. It is responsible for healthy hair growth and give hair correct moisture, regulates the oil glands and takes part in melanin production. A major sign of Biotin deficiency is hair loss.
- B7 (Biotin) is necessary for fat and protein metabolism, activates hair growth and strengthens the protein structure of hair.
- Niacin is a B vitamin that detoxifies the skin and is necessary hair growth and has been studied for use in women with genetic alopecia. Studies of niacin added with Minoxidil shows it increases hair fullness
- B12 (Cobalamin) is connected to anemia and when can cause excessive hair loss.
It is responsible for moisturizing and protecting the hair giving it strength. A deficiency of Vitamin A can reduce the speed at which cells regenerate and new cells are created.
Low concentrations of Vitamin D3 causes hair loss. Vitamin D promotes hair follicle generation.
- Zinc influences hair follicle health and hair growth. It accelerates hair follicle recovery. it is an enzyme activator for protein synthesis, necessary to build hair. It is needed to make carotene which boosts hair growth. It also influences keratin production from Vitamin A. Studies report that low zinc levels are involved in all forms of hair loss.
- Iron deficiency has been associated with hair loss from androgenetic alopecia, and other hair loss conditions. It is also a component of hemoglobin which supplies energy for hair production. When levels are low it increases the resting phase of hair. Women with iron deficiency often have thin, brittle hair that falls out.
- Copper contributes to hair’s strength and influences hair’s structure.
- Selenium is responsible for the shine and growth of hair. Selenium is essential as an antioxidant and the is used in the hair for keratinization. It builds hair strength, elasticity and thickness.
- Magnesium is involved with the growth and development of cells, Deficiency contributes to hair falling out.
- Calcium the hair contains high levels of calcium which starts to decrease in women at the age of 49.
- Silicone is responsible for the growth and shine of hair.
Vitamin D deficiency has been reported in women with Alopecia Areata (AA) an inflammatory induced hair loss condition.
Polyphenols and flavonoids
Polyphenols are antioxidants that act on the skin as an antioxidant, modify enzyme activity and protect the skin from UV radiation. They stimulate skin circulation necessary to nourish the hair.
- Fish Oil (Omega- 3 fatty acids)
- Omega 3 fatty acids support hair thickening and health. they also reduce inflammation that can lead to hair loss. Studies report that supplementation with Fish oil reduced hair loss, improved hair diameter and density, and increased hair growth. Fax seed oil also provides omega-3 fatty acids.
Dietary supplementation for hair loss would include Zinc, Copper, Iron, Vitamins A, D, E, Niacin, B12 and Biotin. Lysine combined with iron reduces hair loss.