When men start to lose their hair, we can often look to their father or grandfathers to find the cause. But what about women? While we women, too, lose some hair volume as we age, there are often other factors at play. But what are they? We talked to Dr. Nancy Rahnama about the top 6 reasons why we experience hair loss.
Top 6 Reasons Why You Are Experiencing Hair Loss
1. Low Protein Intake
One thing we often don’t consider when we’re losing hair is our diet. “It nearly always stems back to the gut,” Dr. Rahnama says. Our hair is made of protein, so if we don’t eat enough protein, it can be the first thing your body looks at to stop sending protein to.
“If you’re not getting enough protein, your body’s going to sacrifice your hair or your muscle mass, because it doesn’t need either of those things to survive.”
So, if you’re losing your hair, check in with yourself and see if you’re eating enough protein. The RDA states that the average adult requires 0.8g per kg of body weight, but this doesn't really account for the variation in your individual circumstances.
Body weight is different than lean body mass, and lean body mass determines what your real protein needs are. I determine how much protein you need based on your lean body mass, measured through body composition, and in relation to your goals.
If you’re vegan, or simply struggle to get enough protein in your diet, supplementing with a protein powder like our Plant Protein Vanilla Protein Powder can be a great way to meet your daily needs.
2. You’re Overly Anxious and Stressed
Mental stress is a huge factor in hair loss for many people, though the way you experience hair loss due to stress will vary from the next person. You may experience:
Telogen effluvium (also known as excessive daily shedding)
Alopecia areata (where you lose hair in patches)
Androgenic alopecia (which is general thinning)
“There’s also the physical signs of stress, such as pulling their hair,” Dr. Rahnama says. When you pull out your own hair, it’s called Trichotillomania. While it has quite a dramatic name, most people don’t realize they’re doing it. It’s similar to nail biting – it’s a physical manifestation of the mental anguish we feel."
That means we often only do it when we’re too inside our own heads to realize. The first step is to notice when you do it, and then use it as an anchor to realize that you’re getting too stressed. Practicing mindfulness is a good way to manage daily stress, but you should seek the advice of a professional if you feel it has become unmanageable.
3. Your Hormones Aren’t Balanced
We can also experience hair loss in times of hormonal imbalance. “A low thyroid causes hair loss, and high testosterone levels in women can cause hair loss. That high testosterone is almost always linked to insulin resistance. If you’re overweight, you’re more likely to have elevated testosterone levels.” If you think hormones may be the cause, take a hard look at your diet and consider if it is balanced. If you are eating right, it’s worth talking to your doctor in case you have a thyroid issue. If it is minor and you’re pregnant or going through menopause, don’t panic – it will likely return to normal once you’ve given birth or are post-menopausal.
4. You May Have an Auto-Immune Disease
Auto-immune diseases often show themselves as a wide range of symptoms, but one of them is hair loss.
“Auto-immune diseases can be caused by a combination of genetic predisposition, compromised gut health, and a major stressor,” Dr. Rahnama says. “For example, if COVID was really stressful for someone and they had a family history of autoimmune disease in combination with a poor diet, they’re going to lose their hair.”
If you’re concerned, talk to your doctor, but it’s always worth trying to reduce stress and ensure your diet gives you all the essential nutrients you need. If your known deficient in this area, taking a multivitamin like our Metabolic Multi is the best way to ensure you’re getting what you need.
5. It’s a Side Effect of a Medication You’re Taking
If you’re on any type of medication and you’re experiencing hair loss, reread the side effects. It may be that hair loss is one of the possible side effects, and that’s what you’re experiencing.
Note that you should never stop taking a medication without first talking to your doctor. In most cases, they can move you onto a different medication to see if that agrees better with your physiology.
6. You’re Missing Essential Micronutrients
Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to function optimally. Two areas of your diet you need to pay close attention to are iron and B vitamins. You may have herd of a B vitamin called biotin. This vitamin is often taken to help strengthen the hair and nails, so can be especially beneficial if your hair loss is due to breakage. If you’re struggling with hair loss, it’s a good idea to increase your intake of B vitamins – our B Supreme contains all 8 B vitamins, including 2000mg of biotin.
What can I do to prevent hair loss?
Even if hair loss is in your family history, you don’t have to surrender to having very thin hair. “It doesn’t mean you can’t control it. Everyone has a predisposition to something, but it’s about controlling your environmental influences. So, if you know that your mom or your grandma has fine hair and experiences hair loss older than their age, then you want to really optimize all these other variables. Eat the right foods and avoid foods that could impair your guts’ permeability.”
Dr. Nancy Rahnama, MD, ABOM, ABIM, is a medical doctor board certified by both the American Board of Obesity Medicine and the American Board of Internal Medicine. Her specialty is Clinical Nutrition, that is, the use of nutrition by a medical doctor to diagnose and treat disease. Dr. Rahnama has helped thousands of people achieve their goals of weight loss, gut health, improved mood and sleep, and managing chronic disease.