What nutritional deficiencies can be bad for hair health?

Our hair health is affected by so many different factors. From what we eat, to our stress levels - it can all have an effect on our locks.

A micronutrient deficiency According to the Institute of Functional Medicine any micronutrient deficiency can indirectly affect your hair’s health. For example, disease or physical trauma increases the body’s nutritional requirement for repair. Unfortunately for your hair, its health isn’t a priority for your body if there is something more important requiring its attention, and your body will divert nutrition towards vital bodily functions like your heart and brain. Try to support your body during this time with a healthy diet and in some cases a supplement can help.

Poor gut health

In recent years we’ve heard more and more about the importance of gut health, from our skin to our mental wellbeing. But did you know poor gut health, including conditions like IBS and leaky gut, can encourage toxins to enter our blood stream, which can negatively affect the way vital nutrients supports hair growth. If you’re suffering from poor gut health seek advice from your GP or a qualified nutritionist.

Drinking unfiltered water Staying hydrated is a key part of staying well, but unfiltered drinking water can contain toxic elements like lead, cadmium and arsenic, which aren’t great for your health or your hair’s health. Toxic materials like those mentioned can actually limit the absorption of essential minerals like zinc, iron and magnesium, which are vital for good hair health. Try to use a filter jug at home or even get a filtered tap installed.

Over exposure to air pollution Most of us live and work in big cities but unfortunately, it can negatively affect the quality of nutrients that are supplied to our skin and hair. To limit this over exposure to air pollution, try to avoid running in big cities, or working with windows open in city environments. Although you might have a love hate relationship with air conditioning – it’s never just right! – it can help filter the air and limit your exposure to air pollution. I’ve added hair above but check with simon that it is accurate, I 99% assume it is as it’s the same metabolic pathways that affect skin and hair.

Working out too much Yes, you can have too much of a good thing – exercise included. Excessive exercise contributes to micronutrient and macronutrient deficiencies, which often leads to hair shedding. Overtraining not only causes inflammation, increasing your nutritional requirement for recovery; it also puts the body under a greater nutritional deficit to prevent any deficiencies.

Could you be overtraining? More and more women are suffering from the ‘Female Athlete Triad’; a process where overtraining and not eating correctly combine to cause hormone imbalances and poor bone health. Our bodies do raise red flags when they’re not coping and if your period has gone AWOL that could be a sign of overtraining and not getting enough nutrition from your diet.

If your workout routine doesn’t currently include two rest days or more it’s a good time to wind things back a notch. You can still stay active on a rest day, if that’s what you feel you need to do, but just make the rest day an active recovery day, with low-impact exercise like swimming and cycling. Why not take up yoga? It’s well known for its stress-busting benefits; your body – and hair – will thank you for it!