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Putting an End to Bad Hair Days – the Top 5 Health Tips for Healthier Hair

Dr. Jennifer Brix
Woman washing hair close-up

Have you noticed your hairbrush is a little fuller these days? Or maybe you’ve been watching your hairline recede at an alarming rate, not to mention the frayed ends that give you volume in all the wrong places. Poor hair health is a concern for many, and it can include everything from hair breakage and thinning to hair loss and balding.

Although it is normal to lose around 80 hairs per day, once this number reaches 100, you may be diagnosed with clinical hair loss. To complicate matters, poor hair health can be caused by many different things, so it usually requires some diagnostic digging to figure out why your hair is not like it used to be.

Despite the many factors involved, the good news is that there are some things you can do on your own to help combat hair loss and help improve the quality of your locks!

1. Manage stress. During times of stress, the body upregulates stress-related compounds, which have been found to inhibit the elongation of the hair shaft and induce the premature regression of the hair follicle. [1] [2] And while hair loss itself may not have direct physical effects on our health, it can create significant emotional strain.

  • Combat stress with wholesome nutrition, daily physical movement, ample sleep, and herbal adrenal support, such as ashwagandha and Siberian ginseng.

2. Power up on protein. The general guideline for a healthy adult is to consume 0.8–1.2 g of protein per kg of body weight per day. If you are getting less than this amount and your hair is not performing as you wish, adding in a protein powder supplement is an easy way to reach your target.

  • Both whey and vegan forms of protein will do the trick. Or to get more direct support, try a collagen supplement. Collagen is the main structural protein in your body, and one that contributes to healthy hair, skin, and nails.

3. Address iron deficiency. One of the most common causes of hair thinning and hair loss is iron deficiency.

  • Testing your iron storage (ferritin) level can determine whether you would benefit from iron supplementation. It is one of the easiest fixes to poor hair health, so reach out to your health care practitioner to get this simple blood test done.

4. Boost your biotin. Biotin is a B vitamin that is water-soluble, meaning you can’t store it in the body and need to obtain it from your diet or supplements daily. Biotin improves the quality of hair, skin, and nails by supporting keratin formation. It also reduces hair loss and reverses changes in hair colour in individuals who are biotin-deficient. 

  • Try taking a biotin supplement daily for a few months to see results. 

5. Soak up the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D is metabolized in the skin by keratinocytes, which are the cells that process keratin, the main protein in hair. And with roughly one-third of Canadians deficient in vitamin D, hair health is one more reason to supplement with this ever-important vitamin. [3] It is involved in various signalling pathways of growth and differentiation of hair follicles, so when the body doesn’t have enough vitamin D, keratinocytes have trouble regulating hair growth and shedding.  

  • A vitamin D blood test can be ordered by some health care practitioners. Knowing your level will help determine how much you should supplement with daily to get your levels back on track. 

 Woman washing hair close-up

Hair is part of who we are; we represent ourselves through everything hair – hairstyles, hair colour, and even hair removal. Understanding why your hair may not be as long or as strong as it used to be is important in effectively preventing it from getting worse and improving the overall growth of your hair.

So quit tearing your hair out and try these five tips to get thicker, fuller, healthier hair. And stick with it; it can take up to three months to see improvements.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Jennifer Brix
Dr. Brix completed her professional training at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine.
References
  1. Arck PC, Overall R, Spatz K, et al. Towards a “free radical theory of graying”: Melanocyte apoptosis in the aging human hair follicle is an indicator of oxidative stress induced tissue damage. FASEB J. 2006; 20(9):1567-9. 
  2. Peters EM, Liotiri S, Bodó E, et al. Probing the effects of stress mediators on the human hair follicle: Substance P holds central position. Am J Pathol. 2007; 171(6):1872-86.  
  3. Janz T, Pearson C. Health at a glance: Vitamin D blood levels of Canadians. Statistics Canada, 2013; catalogue no. 82-624-X.