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Diet and Hairfall - Are They Connected?

Hair follicles are one of the most metabolically active tissues. Hair growth may get impacted by manipulation in calorie and protein intake. Nutritional deficiencies affect both hair growth as well as hair structure (1).

Telogen Effluvium, occurring due to the change in the number of hair follicles, is an effect of rapid weight loss and decreased calorie intake (2). Hair loss is also experienced due to some micronutrient deficiencies. These nutrient deficiencies may arise due to genetic factors, medical conditions, and/or dietary practices (1) such as omitting various food groups and staying in larger calorie deficit states for prolonged times. Common nutrient deficiencies that cause hair fall - - The niacin deficiency causes diffuse alopecia that decreased hair density. Niacin is nothing but Vitamin B3 which is generally important for maintaining good health. It can be found naturally in many foods, including meat, green vegetables, eggs, poultry, and fish. (3) - Loss of scalp hair, eyebrows, and lightening of hair is observed in those suffering from a deficiency of essential fatty acids such as Omega-3 fatty acids. (4) - Iron deficiency is a well-known cause of hair loss, and the risk factor is greater in vegetarians and vegans due to lower consumption of heme iron which primarily comes from hemoglobin and myoglobin in animal-sourced foods. (1) - Zinc deficiency is also correlated where its role in the hedgehog signaling pathway affects hair follicle morphogenesis (5,6). The possibility of suffering from Zinc deficiency is higher in vegetarians due to the shortage of zinc bioavailability in vegetables as compared to meat.  - Alopecia, which is bald patches, is also observed in biotin deficiency. Conclusion - Eat adequate protein and calories - Include a variety of food groups such as dairy, fruits, and vegetables in your diet to get a good amount of micronutrients - Supplements like a standard multivitamin tablet and fish oil might prove to be beneficial References: 1. Guo, E. L., & Katta, R. (2017). Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatology practical & conceptual, 7(1), 2. Mubki T, Rudnicka L, Olszewska M, Shapiro J. Evaluation and diagnosis of the hair loss patient: part I. History and clinical examination. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014;71(3):415.e1–e415.e15. 3. Spivak JL, Jackson DL. Pellagra: an analysis of 18 patients and a review of the literature. Johns Hopkins Med J. 1977;140(6):295–309. 4. Goldberg LJ, Lenzy Y. Nutrition and hair. Clin Dermatol. 2010;28(4):412–419. 5. MacDonald RS. The role of zinc in growth and cell proliferation. J Nutr. 2000;130(5S Suppl):1500S–8S. 7. St-Jacques B, Dassule HR, Karavanova I, et al. Sonic hedgehog signaling is essential for hair development. Curr Biol. 1998;8(19):1058–1068. 8. Wolf B. Biotinidase Deficiency. In: Pagon RA, Adam MP, Ardinger HH, et al., editors. GeneReviews®. Seattle (WA): University of Washington, Seattle; 1993.
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