(A results driven plan to stop hair loss naturally and to regrow healthy hair)
I can’t be the only one whose heart flutters, stomach drops and tears begin the moment when I realize that more hair than usual is coming out each time I shower. Surely others have cried after days of picking hair off clothing or vacuuming it up off the floor.
It has happened in the past, all months after giving birth or when weaning a baby off the breast. This last time was different. It’s been almost 9 years since my last birth and 5 years since I last breastfed a child.
What could be going on?
As I asked around of friends and strangers alike, I found a pattern. A lot of females found themselves in the same boat in regards to losing an excessive amount of hair AND almost all of them had COVID weeks or months prior.
Those who hadn’t had been under more stress than usual.
The common factor to hair loss post birth, during hard and trying times and during an illness such as COVID? STRESS!!
Why am I Losing Hair?
The medical term is called Telogen Effluvium, and it’s a known issue in medical literature. It can be triggered by hormonal shifts (thus postpartum), significant stress (from illness, trauma and the like), as well as from nutritional deficiencies.
A quick internet search will show you that you are not alone. There are many people asking about it and sharing their stories. Studies have already been published, such as this one, COVID-19 Infection is a Major Cause of Acute Telogen Effluvium.
Interestingly, this article, A Sequela of Covid-19, shows the the severity of the illness did not play a role in the occurrence or severity of hair loss.
Essentially, stress depletes the body of essential vitamins and minerals. Many of these play a role in hair health. Even though the protein keratin, the main ingredient in hair, is dead, hair follicles beneath it are alive and need nutrition. The absence of these key nutrients causes the body to push large numbers of hair follicles into a resting phase and within a few months, those come out while combing or washing the hair, as well as just falling onto your clothing as the day goes by.
In addition, when stressed, people typically choose foods higher in carbs and forget about the importance of protein. Protein is a key building block of hair growth, so less protein intake will affect hair growth, strength and loss.
Could there be more to it with this particular virus? Absolutely, given the so many unknowns, but for now it’s important to use the knowledge we do have and to know that it will stop and you can help it to do so while also helping to support regrowth.
Support the Cells, Combat Hair Loss Naturally
The following are key vitamins and supplements that halt hair loss and encourage hair growth. These are the ones I personally added to my diet and saw a complete stop of the hair loss about 2 weeks later. Toward the end of the post I share how to regrow and strengthen hair.
I realized this combination was working for me when, after 4 weeks of using the supplements, I stopped for a few days out of sheer busyness, and a bit of hair loss happened again. It stopped right away when I got right back on my regime.
What is known for any type of Telogen Effluvium, is that the matrix cells in the follicle bulb have a very high turnover. A caloric deficiency or deprivation of several elements, including vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and proteins, caused by decreased uptake can lead to hair loss, structural abnormalities, and pigment changes (The Role of Vitamins…).
What Stopped My Hair Loss and Helped with Growth
I explain the what and why of each below, linking to articles and studies, but I am putting it here for those who don’t want to go back and scroll when finished reading.
“Extended stress leads to longer periods of high cortisol levels. While the adrenal glands are busy making extra cortisol, they make less of the hormones which support healthy hair growth.
Cortisol affects the function and cyclic regulation of the hair follicle. During periods of stress, cortisol dysregulation can disrupt cell signaling. Oxidative stress can disrupt the normal transitions of the hair growth cycle. In-vitro studies demonstrate that proinflammatory cytokines cause the formation of vacuoles within hair matrix cells as well as abnormal keratinization of the inner root sheath and follicle bulb. These cytokines also disrupt follicular melanocytes. They can disturb the hair cycle, which may cause premature arrest of hair cycling. Specifically, these molecules can prevent the hair growth cycle from moving from the telogen phase to the anagen growth phase”(Stress, Hair Loss and the Cortisol Connection).
Note, the thyroid is often to blame in hair loss, BUT when the adrenals are suffering, the thyroid has to work harder. Often when you support the adrenals, thyroid function improves.
To support my adrenals, I started taking Nature’s Sunshine Adrenal Support which contains Vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, magnesium, zinc, potassium, bovine adrenal substance, schisandra fruit, borage seed oil, licorice root, and protease blend. These ingredients work together to fortify the adrenal glands and bolster their function. It is no wonder I saw an energy increase once I started taking this (and the iron) as well.
Sugar intake greatly affects the adrenal function, so be sure to limit it during this time.
In a recent study, low iron levels are a common factor for people experiencing Telogen Effluvium. It’s worthy to note that low iron is also common for people experiencing respiratory illness and disease, such as asthma. I digress, not being able to help myself to share knowledge that greatly helped my son.
Two of the most common non-hereditary causes of hair loss are low thyroid function (which, as I pointed out, can often be taken care of with adrenal support) and iron deficiency (Scientific America). Iron deficiency inhibits the production of hemoglobin, which is essential for hair growth (Diagnosis and Treatment of Iron Deficiency…).
“A review of 40 years of research shows that iron deficiency has a much closer link tothan most doctors realize. It may be the key to restoring hair growth, Cleveland Clinic dermatologists find.
“We believe that treatment for hair loss is enhanced when iron deficiency, with or without, is treated””(May 2006 Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology).
Iron is not something that you want to overdo, but can be very helpful to supplement, especially when dealing with hair loss. Plant based iron is the safest form to take. Floradix is a great liquid iron that I also recommend for pregnant women who are told they need more iron. Another brand, the one I took for my recent hair loss when I couldn’t get the Floradix right away, is Garden of Life. I realize Nestle now owns this company, but the ingredients are good and I felt a difference right away with it.
Of the B vitamins, riboflavin, biotin, B6, folate, and vitamin B12 deficiencies are associated with hair loss. Below explains how each play a role. Please, do not waste your money trying to supplement each of these individually. This isn’t necessary and the ratios of what you need will be harder to figure out. See the “Supplementing B Vitamins Together” at the end of this section.
Hair follicles need oxygen and nutrients to grow which can only be supplied through blood. A new hair strand grows when hair cells divide and multiply. The hair bulb base consists of blood vessels that connect the hair follicles to the body’s blood supply. Vitamin B12 assists the production of oxygen-rich red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the hair follicles. It is a biological process to produce new hair cells and promote hair growth.
Interestingly, B12 deficiency often goes hand in hand with iron deficiency (B12 Deficiency Hair Loss).
Riboflavin, Niacin and B6
Riboflavin increases energy levels, boosts functions of the immune system and maintains healthy hair, skin and nails (Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine). Riboflavin plays a crucial role in hair growth by activating vitamin B6 and niacin; these two vitamins are also key to hair development, according to Hair Loss Information.
Niacin improves blood circulation and brings oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicle (Nutrafol).
Vitamin B6 activates the enzymes and chemical reactions that start the metabolism of the hair proteins, keratin and melanin, in the hair follicles. This makes the hair follicles get enough keratin and melanin, which promotes hair growth and hair renewal (Nutrafol).
Folate (Folic Acid)
“For those with a deficiency in B vitamins, it [folic acid] can do a number of things,” said Dr. Michelle Henry of Skin & Aesthetic Surgery of Manhattan. “For those with thinning hair, folic acid stimulates the hair growth cycle because it is responsible for helping to generate new cells. It prevents premature graying by keeping levels of oxygen-rich red blood cells normalized and stabilized.” Folic acid supplementation may also cause increases in hair volume, as folate’s contribution to new cell production may help hair growth return to thinning areas (Vegamore).
Note you want to supplement with folate and NOT folic acid.
Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, stimulates keratin production in hair and can increase the rate of follicle growth. It is not stored for long in the body – most of yours is from the foods you eat. In order to be effective, it needs to be consumed. It also strengthens the hair, making it less prone to fall out (WebMD).
Supplement These B Vitamins Together
I started on a B12 complex that includes riboflavin, folate, biotin, along with thiamin, niacin, B6, pantothenic acid and choline. This brand uses the active forms of the B vitamins which is important to everyone, especially individuals who might not be able to convert non-active B vitamins to their active forms in the liver because of compromised liver function, poorly functioning enzymes, digestive disorders, or increasing age. This combination of B vitamins works together. The active cofactors enhance bioavailability, ensuring the body gets the nutrients it needs (Thorne).
Collagen plays a few different roles in regards to hair. Though there are no direct correlation studies published showing that it stops hair loss, there is plenty of information showing that it is great for hair growth. For starters, collagen can act as an antioxidant and fight damage caused by free radicals. Collagen may help maintain a healthy dermis and prevent hair thinning by fighting damage to the hair follicles.
Most people who take collagen notice a significant difference in their hair, skin and nails in a very short amount of time. There are hundreds of brands on the market today and certainly, not all are equal. It can be daunting to sort through the different kinds. The ones I have found both effective and of pure quality are Revive Multi Protein Collagen Powder (with 5 types of collagen coming from bovine, marine, egg shell and chicken all sustainably cared for and grass fed where applicable) and Vital Proteins (with 2 types of peptides coming from grass fed cows).
When you consume proteins, your body breaks them down into amino acids that are then used to build new proteins and compounds(pubmed). These proteins are essential to hair growth. Because I wasn’t getting enough protein in my meals, I added a supplement that is protein at the essential broken down form called SuperAmino 23. Five of these plant based tablets are equivalent to 20 grams of protein. I spread them out through the day.
Regrow what was Lost
At the same time that I added in the vitamins, I also started using an organic hair regrowth serum called Mighty Mane Hair Serum. Having used the shampoo after each of my postpartum hair loss episodes, I already knew how well this serum works.
I know how devastating it is to see the hair go. I know what it’s like to see the significant patches of thinning hair. I also know what it’s like to see the hair growing back. I KNOW this organic hair serum works.
This helps tremendously, I promise. This is also useful for people growing their hair back after chemo treatments. There is a shampoo and conditioner in the line as well. I use the shampoo, but I do not see the need for the conditioner. If you only get one product in the line, go with the serum.
I feel your emotional pain over the hair loss. I’d like to see more answers of specifically WHY this happens with COVID and will update this if I do. Please know, it WILL stop and you are beautiful even when you feel you aren’t.
If you find this post useful please share it with others so that they can benefit from learning how to stop the hair loss and how to get it growing back soon and strong. Thank you!
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