4 Nutrition Habits That Are Making Your Hair Thinning Worse
Many people believe that the health of their hair, including whether or not they shed more than average, is out of their control. And while some factors are truly not within our control (like our age and genetics), approximately 70% of our hair health is largely based on the habits and choices we make every day.
Premature hair shedding, aka telogen effluvium, is a distressing condition and one of the most common causes of subclinical hair loss. But hair loss doesn’t need to be a shameful or embarrassing experience! Instead, let’s look at it through the lens of any other symptom your body may be expressing and get curious by asking: “What is my body trying to tell me right now?”
That’s why at VEGAMOUR, we’re championing hair wellness to equip you with the tools to make healthy and sustainable changes to your diet and lifestyle that will positively impact your hair. As a clinical nutritionist, here are the four most common nutritional habits that I see regularly making hair thinning worse and how to solve them — plus, find out what supplements you can use to encourage thicker, fuller looking hair.
Your Diet is Low in Protein (For Your Needs)
The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for healthy adults is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. That means that for someone weighing 150 pounds, the recommended protein intake is only 54 grams per day! However, this measurement is based on avoiding clinical deficiency, which is different from eating for optimal health.
Dietary protein is essential for the health and optimal functioning of every system in our body. When you eat protein, you break it down into amino acids, which are then transported throughout your body for various uses. One of these most important uses is protein synthesis — or building new proteins. Your body is in a constant state of breaking down and rebuilding; the majority of your cells are destroyed and rebuilt every couple of days or weeks!
So how much should we actually be eating to support our health and hair wellness? Critics of the 0.8g/kg metric say that we should be eating approximately 30-35% of our daily calories from protein sources to meet our needs and allow us to thrive. This means roughly 1.0-2.0g/kg of body weight or at least 75g for a person weighing 150lbs. An easy rule of thumb is to have at least a palm-sized serving of protein with each meal.
Explore: Vegan & Cruelty-Free Hair Products
You’re Not Getting the Right Fats in Your Diet
Dietary fat is a critical part of a healthy, balanced diet. After all, it’s one of the three macronutrients (i.e., nutrients we need in large doses daily). Healthy fats play key roles in our body, especially when it comes to our hormones — we need fats to make enough hormones to function!
This is especially important when considering hair loss, as DHT (or dihydrotestosterone) is one of the most influential elements related to hormonal hair loss because it can actually shrink our hair follicles and shorten our hair growth cycle.
DHT imbalance is especially prevalent in women with hormonal disorders such as PCOS, hirsutism and congenital adrenal hyperplasia. The good news about DHT-related hair loss is that it is reversible in many cases. The key is to focus on balancing hormones, and the first step you can take is ensuring you’re eating enough healthy fats so your body can make the proper hormones!
Healthy saturated fats, like coconut oil, and polyunsaturated fats, like Omega-3s, have been found to lower DHT conversion in the body and support hormone production. Aim to have at least one serving (1-2 tablespoons) of healthy fats with each meal!
You’re Chronically Dehydrated
Proper hydration levels are important for all bodily functions, including the hair growth cycle. Chronic dehydration may result in hair loss as fewer healthy new hairs are produced to replace those shed as a normal part of the hair growth cycle. This is part of the body’s survival prioritization: internal functions like keeping our heart beating will always be prioritized over nonessential functions like hair growth when resources become scarce.
Fortunately, once we correct dehydration, hair growth should resume within a matter of weeks. So if you’re not regularly drinking at least half of your body weight in ounces daily, it’s time to start increasing your hydration. This means that a 150-pound person would need at least 75 ounces of water or other hydrating beverages daily.
Pro Tip: You absorb more hydration when you sip slowly throughout the day than when you drink a ton at once. Try keeping a reusable water bottle with you as a reminder to keep hydrated!
You’re Crash Dieting
Our bodies are finely attuned to anything that can make survival more difficult, and unfortunately, caloric and nutrient restrictions are both major threats to our long-term survival … at least that’s how our bodies see it!
Sudden or rapid weight loss has been directly linked to telogen effluvium, the premature resting and shedding phase in our hair cycle. Poorly planned diets, such as crash diets, can lead to deficiencies in essential fatty acids, zinc, protein and overall calories — all of which can lead to or exacerbate hair loss. It’s not uncommon to see excessive hair shedding in as little as a few weeks after going on a crash diet because of the stress this kind of dieting will put on your body.
Instead of a fad diet, focus on a balanced diet that provides your body with the nutrients it needs to function optimally. Saying no to restrictive diets that promise rapid weight loss is essential for protecting your physical and mental health and reducing the risk of side effects, like hair loss.
Plus, it’s a whole lot more enjoyable!
Pro Tip: There’s no such thing as a perfect diet, so focus on bringing in the foods that make you feel great regularly. You may need to experiment a bit to find what works best for you and your body, and consulting with a qualified nutrition professional (like an RD, CNS, or LDN) can be really helpful!
Be Proactive When It Comes to Hair Shedding
Increased hair shedding is an empowering symptom for you! We often notice changes in our hair before changes in our health status become detrimental. If you’re noticing an increase in hair shedding, it’s time to get curious and ask yourself if anything has changed in your diet or lifestyle in the last few weeks or months. If you’re unsure, talk to your doctor or care team. The sooner you discover why your hair is changing, the sooner you can work on correcting it!
More From VEGAMOUR
- Shop: Vegan Hair Vitamins
- Hair Shedding vs. Hair Loss — How to Tell the Difference
- 10 Vitamin Deficiencies That Cause Hair Loss
- Everything You Should Know About Stress and Hair Loss