Nutrition for Hair Loss and Follicular Unit Extraction

[Posted on April 23rd, 2014 by Dr. Carlos Puig]

While the tendency for losing hair is often associated with genetics, a diagnosis which can seem to offer no empowering options, the level of severity may actually be related to stress, dietary factors and other lifestyle habits that can be tailored to improve a healthy scalp and hair follicles. The mechanism of action of hair loss is thought to be the immune system overreacting and attacking the hair follicle, which is also known as an autoimmune disorder, a chronic condition that has no identified cure. It can be mitigated, however, by implementing healthy lifestyle habits, such as a nutritionally sound diet that can bolster the hair follicle system and help protect it against an autoimmune attack. It can also improve the hair’s condition following a follicular unit extraction frequently used in a hair or eyebrow transplant.

If you consume nutrients in food that target hair follicle and scalp health, and facilitate the healing following a follicular unit extraction procedure, you may diminish the extent of hair loss and increase the probability of successful hair growth.

If you decide to improve your nutritional habits, keep in mind that it can take up to a few months to notice a positive effect.

Reduce Stress

A healthy sleep routine and reducing lifestyle factors that cause stress can help improve hair and scalp health, but stress in the modern world is ubiquitous and reducing it has its limitations, which is the reason that managing it is usually the most realistic option. Mitigating it with dietary factors is an effective, noninvasive and readily implemented solution.

The family of B vitamins is known for its ability to relieve stress, due to its involvement in the formation of serotonin and other neurotransmitters that regulate the mood, and also play an important role in energy metabolism. These functions give the body tools that combat poor mood, fatigue and other symptoms associated with stress. Hair transplantation would also increase the demands on the body of healing the extracted area, which would require additional nutritional support.

You can obtain a full spectrum of B vitamins from a combination of lean meat, beans, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals and a multivitamin or B-vitamin complex.

Improve Hair Shaft and Cellular Integrity

Omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fish, such as salmon and mackerel, contain omega-3 fatty acid, are nutrients that the body needs to generate new hair strands. A fatty acid is also an important component of and improves the function of a scalp’s cell membranes, nourishment of which is essential following follicular unit extraction. The oil in the scalp helps maintain a healthy balance of hydration, preventing dryness and other obstacles to healthy hair growth.

Create More Hair Protein Building Blocks

Biotin is a B vitamin and a nutrient essential to the  carbohydrate, fat, and amino acid metabolism process that create the building blocks of hair protein. A biotin deficiency is associated with hair loss. Ensuring that the body has the recommended about will help support the hair protein building process key to hair growth. Food sources of biotin include chicken, avocado, yeast, whole grain bread, soy flour, brown rice, walnuts, pecans, peanut butter and oatmeal.

Fight Free Radical Damage

The hair is exposed to the sun more frequently than most areas of the body and its effect on hair DNA may impair healthy hair growth. Increasing the amount of antioxidants in the diet, which include vitamin E found in walnuts and vitamin C found in a high level in citrus fruits, can improve the body’s ability to maintain healthy hair DNA.

Avoid Low Nutrient Foods

Sugar and preserved refined flour products, such as packaged cookies and other bakery products, provide calories but are empty of vitamins and minerals and other healthy nutrients. Opt for sweet foods made with whole grains and natural fruit sweeteners, and ensure the majority of foods in your diet are healthy fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats, nuts and seeds, that give your scalp and hair the important nutrients necessary for hair growth and to combat the hair loss process.