Your hair gives you some of the first signals when there is a problem with your general health. In fact, when you are not getting enough energy through nutrition, the first thing your body cuts off nutrition to is hair.
So yes, your hair is like a barometer for your body. When you experience an increase in the number of complaints about your hair, one of the things you need to check is whether you are getting adequate nutrition. One of the easiest ways to do this is with a blood test.
It is really only through adequate nutrition that we get enough energy for our bodies. Hair cells make hair by multiplying, using protein and oxygen that they receive from the blood. Hair is nourished by blood. Hair contains 90 percent protein, and is ultimately a strong fiber that is resistant to breakage and tearing. There is no special way to nourish your hair, though; all the various aspects of nutrition that are necessary for the body are also necessary for the hair. When a body does not receive enough energy through nutrition, the first part of the body to be cut off from sufficient nutrients is the hair, as the body works to protect other, more vital parts of the body. When this happens, hair loses volume, experiences periods of heavy fall-out and becomes lifeless and limp, breaking more easily.
A pregnant woman’s nutrition affects her baby’s hair
Poor or insufficient nutrition can have an effect on a baby when a woman is pregnant. Research at Duke University in America has shown that pregnant rats given a wide variety of vitamins gave birth to babies with rich brown fur at birth. In contrast, mothers not given such nutritional supplements gave birth to baby rats with yellowed fur. This research actually demonstrated for the first time that nutrition in pregnant females may influence the expression of their babies’ genes.
Some situations that leave insufficient nutrition for the hair are:
Insufficient protein in a diet;
Strict vegetarian diet or unvaried diet;
Shock diets that cause extreme, rapid weight loss;
Anemia, caused by insufficient iron in blood; and
Insufficient folic acid, zinc or biotin (vitamin B).
Is your hair getting enough nutrition?
One of the most common mistakes made when someone is experiencing hair problems or loss is to take vitamins rather than a blood test. A blood test is the best way to discover whether nutrition is sufficient to nourish the hair.
When people experience serious problems with their hair, they should not use professional lotions, shampoos, etc., as these can mask the root of the problem and actually make it more difficult to find out what the essential issue is. When the real deficiency at hand is actually discovered, the hair problem generally solves itself. There can be supplements taken to speed up and reinforce this process.
Some foods known to help strengthen hair are:
Red meat, due to its high protein levels;
B vitamin group, especially foods containing biotin, such as liver, eggs, soy and yeasty foods;
Fish, as its omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 can make hair shinier, stronger and healthier;
Lentils and other legumes; and
Hazelnuts, which are extremely good not only for the hair but also for the skin.
*Evrim Bayraktar is a trichologist working with the Akademi Hair Therapy Center in İstanbul.