Dieting and Hairloss

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Hair loss (alopecia) can be experienced by men or women, especially as they age. But can weight loss also cause your hair to thin? To understand the effects of weight loss on hair, it's helpful to understand why hair loss occurs.

Common Causes of Hair Loss

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there are several common reasons that you might experience hair loss. But they make a distinction between hair loss and losing hair. They say that losing hair is normal. Everyone loses 50 to 100 hairs each day. But hair loss occurs when you see unusual thinning or patches of hair loss on your head.

So why does hair loss happen? There are several common causes.

Heredity. You've probably heard of male-pattern baldness, but did you know that women can also experience the condition? Female pattern baldness can run in families and it looks slightly different than male-pattern baldness. Women usually experience the condition on the top and crown of the scalp. Women often describe seeing a widening part. You're more likely to experience female-pattern baldness if you have a family history of the condition. 

Hormone changes. According to the National Institutes of Health, changes in your hormone levels can cause hair thinning. A change in your androgen levels may cause the hair on your head to thin and the hair on your face to feel more coarse. You might notice changes during menopause. Approximately two-thirds of women experience some postmenopausal hair loss.

Nutritional deficiency. Low iron can be a cause of hair loss. If you are a vegetarian, if you have heavier than normal periods or if you have a history of anemia you may experience hair loss from iron deficiency. Some women take iron supplements to reverse the condition, but there is no evidence to support their effectiveness for hair loss.

Low protein intake may also lead to hair loss, according to some experts. And very low-calorie diets, in general, don't provide enough nutrition to allow your body—including your hair follicles—to function normally.

Physical or emotional stress. Harvard health experts explain that it is not unusual to experience hair loss when you are also experiencing unusual stress or anxiety. Unintentional weight loss can also happen during times of physical or mental stress.

Thyroid disease. Having an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) be the cause of hair loss. In fact, any thyroid patient may experience hair loss.Your physician can run routine tests to see if your thyroid gland is functioning properly.

Weight loss, alone, isn't on this list of hair loss causes. But that doesn't mean you won't experience hair loss when you lose weight. Dieting can be very stressful, exhausting and can lead to nutritional deficiencies that result in hair loss. And many women experience weight gain as they age or during menopause and may go on a diet as a result. The combination of factors may cause your hair to thin.​

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