We have all seen those ads by fitness and diet gurus promising to "cure" several ailments by alternating or changing ones diet. Some of these gurus go as far as to say that a poor diet is causing androgenic alopecia or genetic hair loss, but is there any truth to this? In this article, we will discuss the cause of androgenic alopecia or genetic hair loss and how diet relates to hair loss.
What Causes Hair Loss
The short answer is genetics, but what is the exact mechanism that causes or triggers ones genetics to cause thinning or balding? Well hair folicles, as well as sebaceous glands contain a high level of an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. This enzyme is responsible for converting testosterone in to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) through the blood stream. DHT is the main hormone responsible for causing andorgenic alopecia or genetic hair loss in men and women. Therefore, the main cause for androgenic alopecia or genetic hair loss is an inherited gene from either the mother or father's side of the family, but the actual mechanism that causes hair loss is hormonal. However, there are other non-genetic causes for hair loss and malnourishment, thyroid disorders and certain medications have been known to cause hair loss.
How Can Diet Affect Hair Loss
There are several vitamins and minerals responsible for promoting new hair growth and mainting healthy hair. However, a deficiency that would cause noticeable hair loss is extremely rare, even a really poor modern day diet typically provide hair loss sufferers with enough nutrients to maintain and grow new hair. What are some of the vitamins and minerals that aid in keeping hair follicles healthy? Vitamin C, Niacin Calcium, Iron, Zinc and Biotin. All of these vitamins and nutrients can be found in multiple food sources and even in over the counter multi-vitamins that are cheap and easy to find. For instance, Biotin can be found in beef, eggs, salmon and cheese. Calcium can be found in most dairy products including milk, iron can be found in spinach, red meat, pumpkin seeds and quinoa. Zinc can also be found in red meat, fish, pumpkin seeds, almonds and most dairy products.
While maintaining a healthy diet is great for overall health and well being, it does not stop or prevent hair loss, because hair loss is a genetic condition and many hair loss sufferers are in excellent health. Currently, there are two prodcuts on the market approved by the FDA to treat androgenic alopecia or genetic hair loss and they are Propecia (finasteride) and Rogaine (minoxidil).
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