It's always a devastating event when a sista realizes that she's losing her hair. Whether it's thinning at the top or breakage at your edges, seeing the bald spots and patches is liable to make a girl scream.
And while there are plenty of commonly known reasons for losing your hair, there are a few surprising causes that we're betting you've never heard of.
Diet -- Too much of this. Not enough of that.
It's no surprise that what you put--or do not put--into your body will affect your hair. We're not talking about what is obviously going to happen if you go on a starvation diet and you're not taking in enough essential nutrients. That's kind of like a, "Duh."
What we're talking about here when it comes to diet is how not having enough of one common thing, and too much of another can wreak havoc on your precious follicles. For example, did you know that not having enough iron in your bloodstream can cause hair loss? Did you know that ingesting too much vitamin A can dead your hair follicles right from the root? Well, both of those statements are facts. And, girl, that's not the half. There are so many things that can cause hair loss. Here's your starter course.
Iron Deficiency. Being low on iron reduces the production of hemoglobin, the element that provides oxygen to your body's cells for their growth and repair.
You might be low on iron if:
· You are extremely tired most of the time. And no, we're not talking about being tired because you worked two shifts at your job or your kids have you running around like a taxi. Those are normal and expected reasons to be tired. We're talking tired when you just slept 8 hours on an off day. Or tired even when you would normally be refreshed. Tiredness like that should be noted. However, being extremely tired is not enough on its own to be concerned.
· You appear pale. When you are pale, your body may be lacking hemoglobin, which, as we stated before, provides oxygen to your body's cell, and is what gives human blood its color. The production of hemoglobin requires iron. If you're low on iron, it is likely that you are low on hemoglobin. So if your face and skin are ashy and you're wearing lotion, you may be iron deficient.
· Other common symptoms of iron deficiency are lightheadedness, headaches, shortness of breath, dry mouth. These may be signs of low hemoglobin production.
Tip: An easy way to check if you're iron deficient, a condition also called "anemic," is to pull down your lower eyelid and check its color. If it's pale red or white, your likely anemic. If it's red, you might be OK.
Call or visit your doctor for a CBC (complete blood count) test if you exhibit these symptoms. The CBC counts the number of different types of blood cells in your blood (red, white, and platelets.)
Vitamin A Toxicity
Now, let's talk about vitamin A. Too much can cause hair loss as well. How much is too much? And where would I be getting it from? Here are the deets.
According to the National Institute of Health, the recommended amount is 900 micrograms daily for men and 700 micrograms daily for women.
Vitamin A is highly present in fish liver, beef liver, sweet potatoes, spinach, pumpkin pie and carrots. OK. Not a lot of us eat fish liver or pumpkin pie. But you know we love us some sweet potatoes. (A few pieces of pie are fine. Just don’t eat the whole pie!)
Do you use supplements as an alternative form of medicine? Any of them have a boost of vitamin A? Multivitamin supplements typically contain 750–3,000 mcg RAE (2,500–10,000 IU) vitamin A, often in the form of both retinol and beta-carotene. According to the National Institute of Health, it is not advisable to take more than 3000 mcg a day.
Recently, megavitamins have risen to popularity as a holistic health treatment, and some of these super-concentrated vitamins contain high levels of vitamin A to treat acne. Also, some studies have found that an increased level of vitamin A in the acne-fighting medication, Accutane, can cause hair loss. Speak with your doctor about the right level of this medicine for you and weigh the benefits against the risks.
So how do you know if your hair loss might be due to an overabundance of vitamin A? Symptoms may include bone pain, blurry vision, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to sunlight, dry, rough, itchy or peeling skin. Seek medical advice for proper diagnosis.
So there you have it. Surprised? Well, now you know. You have more tools in your toolbox to fight your hair loss—or prevent it before it even starts.
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Disclaimer: This blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.