Weight Loss with Hair Loss: The Worrisome Connection
There are many health benefits of losing weight. It includes better mood, self-esteem, sleep, and mobility. You’ll also have a lower risk of heart disease and cancer, lower blood pressure, and better lung health. However, losing weight can have various side effects if not done correctly. For instance, if you lose weight too rapidly, it may lead to hair loss. Though weight loss with hair loss is not a common problem, it may happen if you don’t take proper care.
Here we talk about types of hair loss, why weight loss can cause hair loss, how to prevent it and medications for hair regrowth.
Types of Hair Loss
Hair loss is of two types:
Genetic factors primarily determine Androgenetic Alopecia hair loss. It is quite common and affects about one in every two people. It happens because of the high levels of hormones called androgens present in the hair follicles. The androgens cause hair loss because they shorten the hair growth cycle. Also, the hair strands become thin and short if you have Androgenetic Alopecia.
Telogen Effluvium is common, and many adults experience it at least once in their lives. But the exact cause of this type of hair loss is unknown. It can happen for a short period or chronically. In this condition, the hair falls rapidly.
Causes of Hair Loss With Weight Loss
Various reasons may cause hair loss after weight loss. Some of them are:
Rapid Weight Loss
It can lead to acute telogen effluvium, which, according to research, is a common cause of hair loss. However, Telogen Effluvium varies from person to person. It usually occurs after three months of rapid weight loss and can last up to six months.
Protein Deficient Diet
You may go for a low-calorie diet as you aim to lose weight. However, as per research, if your diet is protein deficient, it can be harmful and cause hair loss. Protein is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in life-supporting processes like tissue repair, digestion, water regulation and hormone secretion. At the same time, proteins are necessary for producing keratin which plays a vital role in promoting hair growth. However, hair growth is not a critical process. Therefore, when the protein level goes down in the body, the body diverts protein to essential functions and abandons non-essential processes like hair growth and hair health. Biotin supplements can help in getting hair growth restored.
Weight Loss Interventions
Weight loss interventions and surgeries can cause the deficiency of essential proteins and vitamins, which may cause hair loss. For example, a study conducted in 2018 had 50 participants who underwent sleeve gastrectomy. After the surgery, 56% of the total participants reported significant hair loss. Also, another study from 2020 with 112 female participants who had sleeve gastrectomy had similar results. Again, the results showed that 72% of participants reported hair loss.
Calorie Deficient Diet
Most essential micronutrients for hair are B vitamins, vitamin C and E, zinc, omega-3 and iron. Therefore, your hair needs sufficient nutrition to grow properly. Unfortunately, as per research, poorly planned calorie deficient crash diets deprive your body of essential nutrients. A study on 180 women has shown that 1 out of every 22 women experiences hair loss due to crash diets. In addition, research shows that crash diets can lead to deficiencies in fatty acids, zinc, and protein.
Nutrient Restrictive Diets
Restrictive diets refer to the diets that do not have a group (or groups) of nutrients. It causes a lack of nutrients in the body and can lead to hair loss. For example, research shows that low-calorie diets and a deficiency of essential fatty acids and nutrients like iron, zinc, and selenium can cause hair loss. In addition, research shows that a restricted diet causes stress, leading to hair loss.
Should You Worry About Hair Loss?
Losing hair is not a dangerous and life-threatening problem. However, the underlying cause of hair loss can cause worry. There can be various reasons behind hair loss due to weight loss. For example, an extreme calorie deficit can cause muscle loss. In addition, low protein intake can hinder muscle movement and function and immune response. It may also lead to intestinal issues and increase the risk of depression. Given how severe these conditions can be, you can consult a doctor if facing hair loss.
Ways to Prevent Hair Loss While Losing Weight
It would be best to adopt a sustainable weight loss regime to minimise the side effects of weight loss. You must understand that you need to go on a calorie deficit instead of a nutrition deficit. You must ensure that the food you are eating is balanced and highly nutritious. If you are switching to a restrictive diet like a plant-based diet, make sure that you still get the nutrients you forgo because of the diet change. You can still have those nutrients through supplements. Therefore, make sure that you keep your zinc, iron, and vitamin B12 levels optimal before and after the surgery. Fish, avocado, lentils, eggs, legumes, soy and all kinds of beans are good for hair health.
Medications for Hair Regrowth
If you are experiencing excessive hair shedding or hair thinning, consult your dietician or dermatologist. In addition, there are various medications available that can enhance hair growth. A few of them are:
- Minoxidil: Clinical trials have delivered good results for Minoxidil. It helps in improving hair thinning and shedding.
- Spironolactone: Clinical trials have delivered good results for Spironolactone, especially for women.
- Supplements: It is essential to understand that what you eat plays a vital role in determining the health of your hair. For example, protein is vital for hair health. Therefore, if you cannot include more protein in your diet, you will need to meet the body’s protein needs. You can eat protein-rich foods like egg, paneer, tofu, chicken, fish, soy, legumes and whole pulses. In addition, you can also choose dal and rice combos like Khichdi, Pongal, Bissibele Bhath etc.
If you do not currently have a healthy weight, it is advisable to start working on losing the excess. A healthy weight will help you prevent various problems like heart problems, diabetes, increased blood pressure, and so on that can be caused due to being overweight. However, you must be careful about how you are losing weight. Losing weight through improper techniques can cause more harm than good. One of the side effects it can cause is hair loss. So, while losing weight, take precautions to avoid hair fall when on a weight loss journey.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Will hair loss from weight loss grow back?
A. Yes, hair loss from weight loss is a temporary condition in most cases. Hair loss due to weight loss happens because of a hair fall condition known as Telogen Effluvium. To lose weight, you will have to be on a calorie deficit. By doing that, you might intentionally or unintentionally cut on nutrients required for hair health. It causes hair thinning, shedding and hair loss. But there is no need to worry. Once you start getting the nutrients back, the hair growth will catch up.
Q. How can I prevent my hair from falling out during weight loss?
A. It is essential to lose weight and minimise the side effects associated with it simultaneously. For this, you must adopt a sustainable weight loss regime to reduce the side effects of weight loss. You must understand that you need to go on a calorie deficit instead of a nutrition deficit. You must ensure that the food you are eating is balanced and highly nutritious. If you are switching to a restrictive diet like a vegan diet, make sure that you still get the nutrients you forego because of the diet change. You can still have those nutrients through supplements. If you are undergoing a weight loss surgery, make sure that you keep your zinc, iron, and vitamin B12 levels optimal before and after the surgery.
Q. How long does hair loss after weight loss last?
A. Hair loss due to weight loss is caused due to Telogen Effluvium. In most cases, hair loss is temporary. It usually occurs three months after a triggering event (like rapid weight loss) and lasts for six months.
Q. What is considered rapid weight loss?
A. If you are losing a lot of weight very quickly, it is rapid weight loss. For example, losing 2 pounds of weight per week can be called rapid weight loss. However, it would help if you didn’t go for rapid weight loss. Instead, it would help to consider a sustainable weight loss regime that happens over a long period.
Q. What is a good vitamin for hair loss?
A. The body needs various nutrients for healthy hair. Research has shown that Vitamins A, B, C, D and E play a crucial role in enhancing hair health and preventing hair loss. Other nutrients like proteins, zinc and iron are also essential for preventing hair health.
Q. Why did my hair start thinning?
A. There can be both genetic and situational factors contributing to hair thinning. For example, if your parents started losing hair at a particular age, you would likely begin to lose hair around the same age. Situational factors like stress cause hair thinning and hair loss. Hair may become thinner after surgery as zinc and iron levels go down.
Q. How long does hair fall out after Covid?
A. In the case of hair fall after Covid, the hair loss occurs sooner than usual. While hair loss usually occurs after three months of the triggering event. In Covid, the time between the disease and hair loss is close to two months.
Q. What amount of hair loss is normal?
A. It is essential to understand the difference between hair shedding and hair loss. Usually, everyone loses 50-100 hairs daily. However, if you lose 500 hairs in a day, it can be a concern.
Q. What are the first signs of weight loss?
A. Various signs indicate that your body is losing weight. The most common is that you will see your clothes fitting differently. You will also see that you are no more hungry all the time. You may also see some muscles building up as you shed more pounds. Further, you experience general well being and an elevated mood when you lose weight.
Q. Why am I losing weight even though I am eating?
A. If you are losing weight, it means that you are in a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit means consuming fewer calories than you are burning. So, if you’re still losing weight after eating enough, you might want to consider reducing your physical activity a bit.
Q. Is losing 10 pounds in a month healthy?
A. If you are losing 8 pounds per month, it is considered rapid weight loss. However, rapid weight loss is not advisable in most cases. So if you are losing 10 pounds per month, you must complement it with sufficient muscle-building exercises. Also, you must ensure that your diet has all nutrients in adequate quantities.
Q. Which fruit is best for hair?
A. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that helps in the healthy growth of hair. It protects the follicles from free radicals. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron, another vital nutrient for hair growth. So, fruits like oranges, grapes, cherries and berries are good for your hair.