Updated 10/8/23; Originally Posted 8/21/22
Your hair is a a thing of beauty for some, frustration for others, and an indicator of your overall wellness for everyone. Hair is soft tissue just like the rest of the body – but visible on the outside just like your skin. All too often, women and men alike will focus on trying to improve or change their hair from the outside with treatments, products, and all manner of tools. I prefer to make choices that will improve the health of every cell of my body and consequently make my hair healthier and more beautiful. If you just nodded yes in agreement, this article is perfect for you so grab a cup of mineral rich water and let’s dive in!
Hair Wellness Topics
If you like what you read and want more personalized support from me, please schedule a New Client Consultation and choose between a virtual session or one at my La Plata, Maryland wellness center.
Hair Growth, Hair Thinning and Your Thyroid
Thyroid hormones are the chemical messenger to your cells that they should be making energy. When your thyroid hormone levels are low, your cells are tired and work at a very slow rate. In your hair follicles, this lack of energy leads to:
- Slow hair growth – there is just not enough energy to devote to growing hair – there are more important functions to support your life
- Shedding of hair – hair strands are released from the follicle that produced them – your body ditches hair in order to conserve energy
- Lack of new hair growth – your body chooses to not grow new hair – it turns some of the hair follicles off in order to conserve energy
These hair growth patterns can happen with head hair, eyebrows (loss of the outer third of your eyebrow is a common low thyroid symptom), and other facial hair. Thyroid induced hair loss tends to be an overall thinning rather than loss at the hair line or in patches. For men with uneven beard growth – check your thyroid!
Greying Hair and Oxidative Stress
I am all for healthy aging, but sometimes we give a pass to symptoms that could help us be healthier because society considers the symptom “normal for your age”. My dad used to say that that his hair turned silver at the age of 16 – a tad early by society’s standards! Silver is a lovely color as long as it does not accompany heath issues that you wish to avoid!
The color of your hair (and skin and eyes) is determined by the relative amount of the two types of melanin added to the fresh new hair strand as it exits the hair follicle. If a melanocyte (the cell that creates the color for your hair) operates at a high level, that hair strand is full of color as determined by your genetics. If your melanocytes are struggling, you will have low hair color and get grey instead. If the melanocyte has nothing to offer, you get white hair.
There are several reasons your melanocytes might be struggling to do their job:
- Low levels of the right minerals are present within the melanocyte. Enzymes enable the melanocyte to function but enzymes require minerals to be in their active forms. To know what minerals/foods to add to your diet, consider a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis
- Hydrogen peroxide has built up inside the melanocyte. While it is a normal byproduct of cell metabolism, your body’s inability to break down the peroxide into water and oxygen indicates poor detoxification on the cellular level. Talk to Zoa about whether Fulvic Minerals might be a good solution for you and other ways you can boost your antioxidant levels to remove the hydrogen peroxide.
- Stress of some kind is present within your cells. Reducing your cellular stress is a multi-pronged endeavor but well worth the effort for healthy aging. Eating an antioxidant rich diet, reducing environmental toxins and stressors, taking care of your adrenal glands, and practicing daily self care can all make a difference.
One thing to ponder if you are approaching the white hair stage is that hair is not the only location of where the protective melanin is produced. Your skin makes melanin as protection from harsh UV sunlight. Your eyes make melanin for the same reason. And there is even a type of melanin in your brain which is neuroprotective. If you can improve the health of your melanocytes, you have more than youthful hair color to gain!
Protein for Thick Strong Locks
Protein is the building block for all parts of your body and hair is no exception. If your protein intake is too low for your body’s current needs, your body will need to prioritize where to send the available protein. Hair is not high on the list compared to things like muscles and organs.
Hair requires protein in the form of collagen and keratin, as do your skin, nails, connective tissue, and more. Collagen is the form of protein needed by the hair follicle for hair growth. Keratin is what makes up the hair strand itself. Collagen creates soft pliable structures like newborn hair. Keratin creates tough, almost unbreakable structures within and without the body (like hooves and reptile scales!).
When your hair has all the proteins it needs, the hair shaft is thick, strong, and does not easily break. Normal or fast hair growth indicates a plentiful supply of protein available to the hair follicles. Thick strong hair is an indicator of organs and glands with strong structural integrity since keratin is present all over your body. Soft supple hair is an indicator of flexible tissues across your entire body due to a healthy internal collagen supply.
Your body can make its own collagen and keratin from the foods you eat but some foods are more helpful than others. Making keratin requires sulfur and cysteine. Making collagen requires glycine and vitamin C. Both of these processes require more than just the protein. The activators include vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and zinc to name a few.
Healthy Fats for Shiny Hair
Before the brand new hair growth exits the hair follicle it passes by the sebaceous gland whose job it is to add a fat blend to the keratin chains. These fats seal your hair from excess water loss, keep the strand pliable, add shine, and work to maintain proper acid/alkaline balance of your hair.
Sebum created near the top of a hair follicle contains a combination of triglycerides, cholesterol, wax esters, and squalene. A diet high in fats and sugars will provide tons of triglycerides and cholesterol but will not necessarily encourage healthy hair.
Omega-3 fatty acids contribute to healthy hair because they can:
- Fight inflammation within the hair follicle which supports hair growth and health
- Regulate the amount of sebum production to just what you need assuming the ingredients are there!
- Support your liver’s task of cleansing your blood. Since blood brings nutrients to all of your cells, hair follicles included, a happy liver will support happy hair.
Split Ends, Sulfur, and Hair Alkalinity
A single hair strand is really just several long chains of keratin (protein) wound around each other in a helix formation and bound together by several types of bonds. When the bonds near the tips get broken, you get split ends. When the bonds are broken mid-strand, you get easily broken hair strands. Some types of bonds are weaker by nature and are easily broken by heat and water. Other types of bonds are stronger by nature and require strong chemicals to break.
Weak hydrogen bonds allow you to curl your hair for a night out or straighten it for the day. Hydrogen bonds are broken by heat which is why curling irons work. Hydrogen bonds are broken by water which is why your hair looks straighter after a shower and returns to your normal curls when it dries.
Weak salt bonds provide the type of strength to keep hair’s elastic nature. The salt or saline bonds are dependent on the pH level of your hair – too acid or too alkaline and the salt bonds break. Luckily, adjustment of your hair pH can recreate the salt bonds and restore the healthy bounce of your hair. When you work on your alkalinity from the inside out you will experience fewer split ends and an improved state of healing for everything else too!
Strong disulphide bonds provide the magic of perms that make your hair curly for weeks and when broken give you frizz. If your sulfur intake is low, the sulfur you have will likely go support liver’s detoxing work and leave you with straight hair. Once these disulphide bonds are broken, they can not be formed again in the same place and your hair is permanently damaged (until you cut the damage off). Curly hair has many disulphide bonds and often needs more care to keep the hair strand well hydrated and lubricated over its full length.
Bonds are simply chemical attachments between bits of keratin. If you have missing keratin along the hair strand, there are fewer places that can attach and the hair strand is weak. If you have low supplies for the creation of bonds, you will also have weak hair.
Hair Mineral Content and Cellular Health
Your hair is made of proteins, fats, and minerals. Minerals are required to for all your cells to work well – including those that contribute to creating your hair. We can easily analyze the mineral content in your hair as a way to understand what is going in all the cells in your body. The usefulness of this type of hair mineral test goes way beyond making your hair look good. If the idea of doing a hair test is new to you, here are 12 things you can learn from a simple hair test:
- Your current cellular stress level: acute, resistant, or exhaustion
- How well your diet and lifestyle support the optimal function of your adrenal glands
- Whether your cells need you to eat a carb rich diet or a fat rich diet
- How well your cells are able to make use of your thyroid hormones – no matter how plentiful they are!
- The quality of your blood sugar regulation
- If you are eating enough food!
- How well your cells are doing at using the protein in your diet
- Both dietary mineral deficiencies and those minerals that are present but unable to be used by your cells
- The state your nervous system has spend the most time in – sympathatic (too stressed?) or parasympathetic (too calm?)
- If you are predisposed to have bacterial infections or viral infections
- How balanced your sex hormones are: Progesterone, Testosterone, and Estrogen
- Is your metabolism using up minerals fast or slow?
When you are ready to do a hair mineral analysis, the sample of hair that you send in is quite small (80 mg which is the weight of 7 or 8 grains of sand – of course hair is lighter!) but the information gained about your body is huge! What do you do with that information? You will want a proper analysis either through me or another HTMA professional and then you make lifestyle and diet changes for better hair and a higher state of wellness!
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