The loss of hair is a condition that is largely determined by genetics, especially with pattern baldness which occurs in both in men and women. This affects about 95% of hair loss cases in men.
And 40% of women will have noticeable signs of hair loss or thinning by the age of forty.
How Do Genes Cause Hair Loss?
The DNA in our cells provides instructions for making proteins. Our hair follicles have protein receptors. The genes for pattern baldness code for weak proteins that are sensitive to a compound called DHT. This is formed when testosterone breaks down. The presence of DHT in the bloodstream can cause the follicles to shrink (miniaturize)
Can Hair Loss Be Prevented?
Pattern baldnessis caused by genetics. However, there are measures we can take to slow the process down and minimize the extent to which it manifests.
(1) Eating a well rounded diet
Eating a well rounded diet can have many different interpretations. If you want to focus on the health of your hair, there are certain nutritional elements that you can focus on. This includes: Vitamin B12 (for regulating cellular metabolism) and Biotin (which assists in the body’s ability to metabolize amino acids and fats). Both these nutrients are found in leafy green vegetables like spinach and they are also available as supplements.
Iron deficiencies can also contribute to hair loss. Iron is needed by blood cells in order to carry oxygen to different parts of the body. The health of hair follicles can decline with lower levels of oxygen.
Omega 3 essential fatty acids are also important for healthy hair. Our hair shafts are coated with oil which serves as a protective barrier that can help prevent breakage. Good sources of omega 3 include salmon and flax seeds.
Also, our hair shafts are made of protein. So a protein rich diet is important for enabling the body to synthesize hair. Fish and beans are both excellent sources of protein.
(2) Sun Protection
Although most people think of sun protection for their skin, this is also an important measure for hair health as well. UV rays from the sun will react with oxygen molecules and cause them to lose an electron. In this state, they are very unstable and will try to take electrons from other compounds. This leads to tissue and structural damage in both the hair and the skin. Hair can become dry and brittle, leading to breakage.
Just as there is the concept of SPF (sun protection factor) there is also HPF (hair protection factor) There are now products being made which protect the hair from UV rays. This includes hair conditioners and sprays. Wearing a hat can also help protect the hair.
FDA approved medications for hair loss include Propecia (oral medication available on a prescription basis) and Rogaine (topical treatment available over the counter). These types of drugs can help counter the effects of follicular miniaturization and improve blood supply to the scalp. While hair growth can occur for some patients, medications like these are mostly used to help control hair loss and prevent it from advancing to more severe states.
If you are not sure what lifestyle choices to make for preventing hair loss, you may want to speak to speak to your doctor.