How Selenium Impacts Hair Loss, Growth and Grays
When it comes to achieving healthy hair growth, a balanced diet can have a huge impact. If your body is suffering from any of the key minerals, vitamins and nutrients your hair follicles need to promote hair growth, you'll likely see a rise in hair loss caused by the lack of nutrients, as well as an impact on your overall health.
One of the key nutritional building blocks necessary for reducing hair fall is the little-known trace mineral selenium. But recent studies suggest that excess selenium can impact strand health, while a selenium deficiency causes hair shedding.
We talked to the experts to understand how selenium can be effective in hair loss treatments — plus, find out what proven products you should really be using to encourage thicker, fuller looking hair.
How Selenium Impacts Hair Health
Let's start with the basics. What is selenium?
"Selenium is an essential trace element with antioxidant and immunomodulatory effects," said board-certified dermatologist Dr. Patricia Gaile Espinosa. "It prevents oxidative stress damage on cells hence preventing inflammation."
What does this mean in laymen's terms? Registered dietitian Katie Tomaschko breaks it down. "Selenium is an antioxidant — meaning it helps fight cancer-causing free radicals in the body," she explained. "This is important for healthy hair growth. Selenium also helps support proper function of the thyroid hormone — a hormone that is crucial in hair growth regulation."
Selenium and Hair Growth
Selenium seems to be effective as a hair loss treatment. Many people suffering from telogen effluvium take selenium supplements to support hair regrowth.
"The body needs trace minerals, such as selenium, in helping with hair growth," said board-certified dermatologist Dr. Anna Chacon."This mineral is needed by many enzymes to perform their role in catalyzing different chemical reactions in the body. A number of these named antioxidants help the body clean itself from free radicals that cause premature aging and the weakening of hair follicles. Selenium, therefore, helps in healthy hair growth by killing these free radicals."
Selenium and Hair Loss
As beneficial as it generally is for hair health, there is such a thing as too much selenium. And if you overdose, your scalp conditions may suffer.
"The recommended dietary allowance for adults is 55 micrograms daily," said Dr. Espinosa.
"Consuming very high levels of selenium may result in selenium toxicity," Tomaschko said. "This rarely happens but can be caused by over-supplementation, resulting in hair loss. However, this is not common."
"An excessive amount of selenium in the body can contribute to hair loss," Dr. Chacon explained. "Consuming too much selenium creates too many antioxidant enzymes that cause the body to attack its own cells, including those in hair follicles."
But how do you know if you're consuming too much selenium? If your elevated levels haven't yet begun to cause hair loss or brittle nails, early warning signs can be breath with a garlic odor and a metallic taste in your mouth. However, self-diagnosis can be difficult. As always, your best bet is to speak to a health care professional about any selenium hair loss concerns.
Selenium and Your Diet
Because nutritional gaps are often one of the key root causes of thinning hair, making sure your body is getting the critical vitamins and minerals it needs to support hair health is the best way to help nurture hair growth from the inside out. And if you're interested in experimenting with selenium to support hair follicle health, making sure you're eating a diet full of selenium-rich foods is a great place to start.
"The right amount of selenium in your diet is essential for regular hair growth," said Dr. Chacon. "So make sure you’re eating just the right amount of selenium-rich foods." Here are some of the best vegan foods to stock up on to boost your selenium levels:
- Mushrooms, especially the shiitake and white button varieties
- Enriched macaroni
- Lima and pinto beans
- Nuts, especially high selenium brazil nuts
- Seeds, like sunflower, sesame, flax, and chia
- Brown rice
- Green vegetables, including broccoli, cabbage, and spinach
It's rare to consume too much selenium through dietary sources alone, but it's still important to monitor your intake to make sure you don't take too much. For example, one study showed that consum just two Brazil nuts can increase one's selenium levels to those that are present when taking selenomethionine, an organic form of selenium. If you're concerned about keeping your selenium levels in check, a supplement with a clear serving size on the label may be a better option.
Supplementing With Selenium
Taking supplements is one of the easiest ways to make sure your hair is getting the micronutrients you need. However, because of the danger of selenium toxicity, make sure you stick to the daily recommended dose of your selenium supplement and never go above the recommended serving of 55 micrograms daily.
The Takeaway: How Selenium Can Support Your Hair Growth Journey
Nourishing your body from the inside will always be one of the best things you can do for hair health. When you're getting the nutrients you need, your strands will thrive! Adding a carefully monitored intake of selenium to your diet via foods or a daily hair supplement is a good way to keep strands happy, healthy, and thriving.
More From VEGAMOUR
- Hair Shedding vs. Hair Loss: How to Tell the Difference
- 9 Biotin-Rich Vegan Foods to Eat for Healthy Hair
- Here's How Gut Health and Hair Loss Are Connected
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