Changes in your hair are among the more noticeable signs of aging—thinning, breaking off, falling out. Most people believe those changes are inevitable and uncontrollable, but they’re wrong.
Sure, you can’t change your age or your genetics, but you can take some very simple steps to help minimize, or even reverse, some of those problems.
Your hair is directly affected by your overall health. A change in your well-being can bring on changes in your hair—things like extra stress, or nutritional deficiencies (often caused by dieting), or an unreliable thyroid. Plus, lots of people have external hair-destroyers to deal with, like chemotherapy.
Hair loss drugs are a life-long commitment
There are a couple of over-the-counter drugs out there to restore hair loss:
- finasteride (the second is approved only for use by men).
Both drugs promote hair growth due to normal male pattern baldness; minoxidil can also be used for extreme hair thinning experienced by women. But once you start taking these drugs, you’re stuck with them…the minute you stop taking the pills, your newly grown hair will disappear. And that is if they work for you,
To make matters worse the can come with some nasty side effects.
Minoxodil’s potential side effects include
- burning or irritation of the eye
- itching, redness or irritation at the treated area
- unwanted hair growth elsewhere on other parts of the body
- WORSENING hair loss or alopecia
Potential side effects from finasteride include
- abnormal ejaculation
- loss of interest in sex
- swollen hands or feet
- breast tenderness
- runny nose
3 vitamins for a healthier head of hair
If taking hair-growth drugs or going the fake-hair route doesn’t appeal to you, you can try some natural solutions. Specific supplements work to improve your overall health, and better hair is a wonderful side effect of that.
These particular supplements send much-needed nutrients to your hair through the roots, helping you build up a healthier head of hair. And if you have been using minoxidil or finasteride, these supplements can work right along with them.
Zinc can produce healthy hair and may even slow down hair loss. This mineral works especially well for people experiencing underactive thyroid, which can lead to brittle or thinning hair. Take 30 mg of zinc every day, and you may notice a difference in just a few weeks. A word from the doctor: Whenever you increase your zinc, add in some copper to balance it out. For a 30-mg dose of zinc, add 2 mg of copper to your daily regimen.
Biotin is part of the B-vitamin family, is a known hair restorer. Not only can this essential nutrient stall hair loss and strengthen your hair, but it may also actually bring on new hair growth—when the loss was caused by a biotin deficiency, that is. Biotin works best when it’s joined by the rest of the B-vitamin clan, so look for it in a B complex that contains 50 mcg of biotin.
PABA (a.k.a. para-aminobenzoic acid):
PABA is another member of the B-vitamin lineup, also plays a role in hair protection. PABA protects your hair through its roots, and getting enough of this critical nutrient can keep your hair from falling out. Make sure your B complex contains 100 mg of PABA.
Help your hair with herbs
As for herbs, there are a couple that have been shown to help promote healthy hair growth.
Saw palmetto is sometimes used to treat an enlarged prostate, may also fight male pattern baldness, thanks to its ability to dampen down the effects of testosterone. This herb can work for both men and women. I typically recommend 160 mg of saw palmetto daily.
Pygeum also appears to do the trick for male pattern baldness, probably by that same mechanism as saw palmetto. You can add 100 mg of pygeum to your daily regimen to fight hair loss. Oh, and ladies, this one just may work for you as well.
For the other side of the hormone coin, there are some Chinese herbs that can prevent hair loss by boosting the power of estrogen. Those traditional herbs include dong quai and shou wu. You can take 500 mg three times a day of both these herbs. You can take them together; in fact, you may be able to find one product that contains both herbs.
The iron connection to thinning hair
Some innovative research uncovered a very surprising fact: Iron deficiency plays a big role in hair loss. And taking in more iron could play a big role in regrowth. Especially for women, supplementing with iron can stall hair shedding and maximize growth potential.
You don’t have to have full-blown anemia for your hair to be affected, either. In fact, that’s one of the biggest misconceptions the researchers came across. The iron deficiencies that can leave more hair in the sink then on your head are much smaller than the ones that lead to anemia.
But here’s a word of warning: Don’t stock up on the iron supplements until you see a doctor and get a blood test. Taking too much iron when your body already has plenty can lead to iron overload… a pretty dangerous condition.
Besides, a lot of people have a hard time tolerating iron supplements, as they can cause stomach upset and constipation. You may have better luck just adding iron-rich foods to your diet, without any of the uncomfortable side effects and potential dangers.
Good food sources of iron include:
- beef (organic grass-fed is best)
To absorb the most iron from your meals, eat foods rich in Vitamin C along with the foods listed above. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron more easily.
Dr. Allan Spreen
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