Your hair can tell you a lot about your overall health. If you notice changes in your hair’s color, strength, texture, or thickness, it’s a good sign that something’s off.
Rather than get frustrated by lackluster hair, think of it as your body crying for help.
3 Common Hair Complaints and What They Say About Your Health
If you’ve noticed a change in your hair health over the previous months or years, there’s no need to panic. The good news is that most hair conditions can be reversed, and you can do things now to prevent further problems in the future.
Here are some of the most common hair complaints and what they might be telling you about your health.
1. Prematurely Greying Hair
Unfortunately, as we get older, the pigment cells in our hair follicles begin to die, and our hair becomes more transparent, turning silver, grey, or white.
Our genes are also responsible for how early we get grey hair and how prominent it becomes.
While we can’t turn back the aging process or change our genes, some things could speed up the greying process.
While it was always assumed, science didn’t back up the old “stress causes grey hair” theory for a long time. But now we have proof, thanks to a 2020 study on stress’s effect on the body, including the hair follicles.
Researchers found that when our body kicks into fight-or-flight mode, the chemical norepinephrine releases into the hair follicle. This chemical essentially forces out the pigment-producing stem cells forcing the follicles to produce colorless hair.
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
Healthy hair needs a balanced amount of vitamins and minerals. When it comes to grey hair, one of the most common causes is low B12 and B6. Other studies showed that low ferritin, vitamin D-3, zinc, and iron, as well as excess calcium and copper, advance premature greying.
2. Thinning and Shedding
Nothing is more devastating than when you start losing your hair quicker than usual. Thankfully excessive shedding is not without explanation and can be reversed with time and lifestyle changes. Here are some common causes of thinning hair.
When the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism) because of extreme stress, undernourishment, or autoimmune disorders like Hashimoto’s, hair may shed and thin more than average.
Low thyroid hormone can lead to hair loss that can later be reversed when the thyroid starts functioning normally, either naturally or with medication.
Interestingly, too much thyroid hormone production (hyperthyroidism) can also cause hair loss.
Extreme drops in estrogen happen after giving birth or coming off of hormonal birth control. For most women, once their hormones level out again, their hair grows back.
Another hormone imbalance that causes hair loss is a high level of androgens. For example, DHT can shrink your hair follicles and shorten the length of the growing cycle. That makes it harder for new hair to grow after old hairs fall out.
When you’re under a lot of stress, your body devotes most of its energy to keeping your vital organs functioning. It’s not too concerned with how your hair looks. So to conserve energy, it shifts many of the hair follicles into a resting phase so they won’t grow new strands.
As your current hair follicles reach their shedding phase, new hair isn’t ready to replace it, leading to thinner hair over time.
3. Brittle, Damaged Hair
If your hair breaks easily, looks and feels dry, or has noticeable damage, it could be a sign of a hormone imbalance.
For example, brittle hair could be a sign of too much cortisol. Cortisol is often caused by stress but can also be a sign of Cushing’s syndrome.
Also, some women report that their hair becomes finer, dryer, and less silky when they use hormonal birth control.
Other extreme changes in hormones, such as quitting birth control or having a baby, could produce similar results.
Before you panic about having a hormone imbalance, another factor that causes dry hair could be dehydration. The weight of one hair strand is made up of nearly 25% water.
So if you’re not getting enough water in your day, your hair will definitely show it.
A good goal to aim for is ½ your body weight in ounces of water daily. So if you weigh 160 lbs, aim for 80 ounces (more if you exercise).
If you aren’t eating enough of the right foods because of dieting or an eating disorder, your hair isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, and it’s a sure sign that the rest of your body isn’t getting enough either.
Low calcium and low copper absorption can also play a role in dry, brittle hair. If you’re getting plenty in your diet, but you’re not absorbing it, it could be a sign of an underlying condition such as poor gut health, hypoparathyroidism (where the parathyroid glands produce too little parathyroid hormone), or even a side effect of hormonal birth control.
Revive Your Hair to Its Former Glory
Because there are so many causes to each of these hair problems, it’s important to test so you can get to the root cause of the problem. Don’t just assume that you have a thyroid problem or a hormone imbalance.
Diagnosing based on symptoms alone can be dangerous. For example, both hypothyroid and hyperthyroid can cause hair loss but are treated very differently.
Before starting any vitamin regimen or extreme diet changes, you need to test to find the underlying cause.
When you work with me during the 3-month or 6-month Transformed program, you’ll have access to multiple lab tests so you can identify what’s causing your hair issues.
Start Making Changes Now
While I don’t recommend going out and buying supplements without testing and plenty of professional support, there are safe things every woman can do to support healthy, happy hair.
Destress: Almost all the hair problems listed had one common denominator. Stress. Take time every day to relax and reflect. Get outside and get moving. Relieving mental and physical stress will do wonders for your entire body, including your lush locks.
Eat plenty of nutrient-dense foods: Low-calorie, low-carb, low-fat diets wreak havoc on your hair. Nurture your hair and the rest of your body with whole foods that are high in vitamins and minerals. Make sure you eat a variety of healthy proteins (collagen does wonders for hair health), carbohydrates (including vitamin-rich root vegetables and fruits), and healthy fats (olive oil, avocados, etc.).
Stay hydrated: Your body doesn’t need your hair to survive. So if it’s getting very little water, it’s going to send it to cells that keep you alive, aka your vital organs, not your hair. Staying hydrated will keep your hair soft and strong.
Readdress your hair products: Your hair products could be damaging your already delicate hair. Look for a shampoo that’s free from sulfates and artificial fragrances, which aren’t only terrible for your locks but your hormone health as well. You can find out how safe your products are using the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Data Base.
Take a break from the heat: Everyone loves a good blowout, but using heat every day on your hair will damage it beyond repair. Try limiting blow dryers, curling irons, straighteners, and other heat devices to two or three times a week.
Healing Takes Time
As your body heals, your hair will heal as well. Hair is an excellent health marker to make sure you’re on the right track.
It may take several months before you notice a significant change in your hair. But don’t give up! As you prioritize your body’s health, your hair will follow, and feeling and looking better will be well worth the effort.
Best of all, you’re not alone on this journey. With functional lab testing and a personalized plan, you can enjoy your healthy, beautiful hair once again.
Interested in lab testing with me? I offer a free 45-minute clarity call to get a health history assessment.