Author: Sana Khan, Nutrition Consultant at The Elixir Clinic – London.
We are constantly being told what products to use to improve the quality of our hair, promote hair growth, and achieve those perfect long locks. However, the reality is many of these products don’t live up to their promised claims and the truth is that hair health is very much a reflection of our inner health and the synergy between our body systems. The quality of our hair and rate of growth or hair loss is affected during periods of stress, chronic or acute illnesses, poor gut health, and hormonal imbalances.; undoubtedly our genes also can play an integral role in hair health.
In my clinical practice, common complaints for hair fall are often linked to digestive health disorders where there is a possibility of malabsorption such as Chron’s disease or Coeliac disease and hormonal conditions such as hypothyroidism, PCOS, or allergies & intolerances. Diffused hair loss can be seen in nutrient deficiencies and autoimmune conditions.
Pregnancy and hormones in female health (such as menopause) can commonly affect hair health. When speaking to a health practitioner regarding hair health, it is always vital to discuss in detail absorption and digestive health. Only with optimal digestion, we are likely to absorb the essential nutrients our bodies require.
The western diet revolves around processed and preservative fuelled foods, which is a prime reason for increasing deficiencies. More people are investing money on supplements, topical hair treatments, implants and IV therapy to improve their hair health. From a long-term perspective, the concept should mainly consist of a better quality diet and lifestyle. Lifestyle factors include using products which contains less synthetic chemical such as shampoo and conditioners that are SLS-free (Sodium Laureth Sulfate) and paraben-free.
SUPPLEMENTATION & NUTRITION:
When considering supplementation to promote overall wellness and improving your hair health, it is recommended to consider the nutritional label but also seeking advice from a nutritionist or general practitioner. Good quality supplements, better nutrition, and improved quality of life is a great start to enhance the overall outcome.
IV vitamin therapy and intramuscular injections are becoming the latest trend for supplementation of nutrients. The main benefit is the guaranteed 100% absorption of essential nutrients that are delivered directly into the blood stream and by pass the gut, meaning there is an increased rate of absorption compared to supplements. Vitamin infusions targeted at improving hair quality and health include ingredients such as B-vitamins, Biotin, and Folic Acid; in order to achieve maximum results, a treatment plan is recommended. Alongside this, I recommend clients to focus on a wholesome and balanced diet as well.
Hair health heavily relies on nutrient dense foods, sufficient sources of protein and omega 3 rich fats through the diet. For vegans and vegetarians, combining protein sources are essential to obtain all amino acids. Key amino acids such as: L-lysine, L-proline and L-cysteine promote hair growth and non-vegetarian sources of protein can include chicken, turkey, fish, dairy products such as cheese, and eggs.
Supplements often contain collagen in their formulations. There are controversies around the absorption of collagen peptides in the gut, and as this is a recent trend, there is limited scientific research to indicate usefulness of absorbing collagen through supplementation. The evidence shows that collagen is made naturally with the key resources including Silica, Zinc and B-vitamins. Iron also tends to be present in most hair supplements because iron deficiency (anaemia) is one of the key links to excessive hair loss and poor hair health. Non-vegetarian sources of iron include red meat and fish which provide iron with a higher bioavailability. Vegetarians and vegans can obtain iron through green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and salad greens. Better quality supplements tend to be either liquid or powder formulas to increase bioavailability of the nutrients.
If you have concerns about your hair health, suffering from hair loss or thinning, it is recommended to identify the root of the problem before spending money on hair products and treatments that might not help you achieve your desired results. Book a consultation at The Elixir Clinic and allow us to help you determine the best solution for you!