Diet, Hormones Can Play a Role in Women’s Hair Loss

Quite a few things good for your whole body are good for your hair

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Hair loss is much more widespread among women than many people may think.

“Female hair loss is actually very, very common,” said Michael Wisiorek, doctor of osteopathic medicine at Hair Restoration and Aesthetics of Buffalo in Williamsville. “Thirty percent of women at age 30 experience it and almost 60% by age 50 to some degree or another. It’s actually a much more complicated approach than men’s hair loss because there are more metabolic reasons.”

He said that hormones, diet, environment and medication may play a role.

“Many cases can be addressed with a physical by a qualified physician,” Wisiorek said.

Unlike the “horseshoe” pattern of baldness affecting men, women tend to experience overall thinning or thinning at the temples, with the exception of alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease, which causes recurring patchy baldness.

Most women experience extreme shedding after pregnancy, but that is normal. Hormones also influence hair thickness during perimenopausal, as a reduction in reproductive hormones can mean thinner hair. For either case, she encourages women to eat a healthful diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, manage stress and maintain a healthful weight.

Limiting damage to hair can help hair appear fuller. Damage can be caused by heat, chemical treatments such as coloring, perming, straightening, wearing tight braids, buns or ponytails. Use gentle products on the hair and avoid rubbing it or combing it while it is wet.

Stress induced hair loss is usually caused by an interruption of the growth and shedding cycle.  Managing stress can help reduce this effect, but the results take months to evidence.

Inflammation on the scalp can also cause hair loss, such as with psoriasis. While that can cause permanent hair loss, patients usually recognize it quickly and can receive treatment to halt its progress.

Smoking and some medications may cause hair to thin. Wisiorek said that discussing options for cessation and different medications with the prescribing doctor can address this issue. His office offers hair restoration techniques, including platelet rich plasma to stimulate growth, medication and transplant procedures.

“These are painless and take one day,” Wisiorek said. “We can restore hair on the scalp and eyebrows with as few as one session usually.”

He also looks at nutrition, as many women are anemic.

“There are absorption problems like ulcerative colitis, which can prevent the absorption of nutrients and not just biotin but B12, folic acid and iron,” Wisiorek said.

Marge Pickering-Picone, health and nutrition coach and owner of Professional Nutrition Services of Rochester, Inc. in Webster, looks at clients’ diet regarding hair thinning, including protein intake.

“Some people can’t stand to even look at red meat, but let’s make sure you’re getting a plant-based protein source and enough of it,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be from meat.”

She recommends around 90 grams of protein daily, eaten throughout the day ideally, since the body cannot absorb the entire daily quota all at once.

Pickering-Picone also looks at the individual’s stress level, genetics and other factors.

Stressors such as an illness, injury, major weight loss or shocks to the system can cause hair loss, but normally it is temporary.