Can weight loss cause hair loss?

Weight Loss and Hair Loss

Weight Loss and Hair Loss

Hair loss is a condition in which your hair becomes thinner and falls off in patches. It can be due to aging, genetics, hormonal problems, poor diet, or stress. But sometimes, hair loss can also be due to rapid weight loss induced by strict dieting or extensive workouts.

Sudden fluctuations in the BMI moves the hair follicles into the inactive stage. People with strict diets usually cut their calorie intake but they should not forget that our hair needs all the essential nutrients, including calories to grow properly. 

Hair loss due to weight loss is not a permanent side effect. It can be prevented with the help of some lifestyle and dietary changes. Regular exercise and sufficient intake of liquids can help in hair regrowth.

Dieting is not as easy as it may seem and sometimes when people prepare their diet plan without consulting a specialist, they often cut down essential nutrients. This can result in hair loss due to nutritional deficiencies.

2 Most Common Type of Hair Loss

  • Androgenic Alopecia: Each hair strand has a growth cycle and with androgenic alopecia, this cycle gets weaker, leading to shrinkage of hair follicles. It produces shorter and finer strands of hair. Eventually, the growth cycle ends and no new hair growth takes place.
  • Telogen Effluvium: In this type of hair loss, the exact occurrence rate is not known. It can be acute or chronic depending on the stress level and trauma that one has gone through.

4 Common Causes of Hair Loss

  1. Genetic Hair Loss: Hereditary-pattern baldness is the most common cause of hair loss. If you have a family history of baldness, you are very likely to experience hair fall due to genetic factors. This type of hair loss can begin as early as puberty because certain sex hormones trigger these hereditary hair losses.
  2. Hormonal Changes: Hair loss due to hormonal changes is usually temporary. Your hair will start growing back without any treatments. Some hormonal changes that can cause temporary hair loss are:
  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause
  • Childbirth
  • Discontinuing the use of birth control pills
  1. Medical Conditions: Medical conditions such as thyroid, diabetes, alopecia areata, scalp infections can cause hair loss. Certain medications used to treat health conditions like cancer, depression, heart problems, high blood pressure, etc. can also trigger hair loss.
  1. Shock: Sometimes emotional or physical shock can also induce hair loss. It is a form of temporary hair loss. These shocks include:
  • High fever
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Accident
  • Death of a close family member

How to Prevent Hair Loss due to Weight Loss?

Hair loss due to weight loss can be prevented by potentially choosing a balanced diet that provides enough nutrients to your hair to function optimally. 

Avoid restrictive diets that promise rapid weight loss because there’s no shortcut to a healthy weight except for being patient and providing enough nutrients to the body to protect your physical and mental health. This will reduce the side effects like hair loss as well.

If we follow a dietary pattern that restricts fatty fishes that are essential for hair growth, make sure to include nutrient-dense foods and supplements to compensate for the lost nutrients. Take biotin supplements and massage your scalp regularly to nourish your hair follicles. 

If you are undergoing weight loss surgery, do not forget to add nutrients like zinc, vitamin B12, iron, etc before the actual surgery. Consult with your doctor or dietitian afterward to prevent surgery-related hair loss. 

How to Reverse Hair Loss due to Weight Loss?

Hair loss can have many underlying causes and not just rapid weight loss. So, it is important to identify the cause before you try to treat it.

Hair loss can be due to nutrient deficiencies like zinc or iron, which are vital for hair regrowth. If your restrictive diet is preventing you to take enough calories, we recommend changing your diet to a nutrient-dense diet. 

However, if you do not have a nutrient deficiency, supplements might not work for hair regrowth. Consult a healthcare provider who can diagnose your problem and help you come up with a plan to regrow your hair. 

Minoxidil is a topical product that can improve hair thinning and has shown effective results in clinical trials. Other OTC medications are also available in the market. Laser treatment and hair transplantations are also two methods to treat hair loss but these treatments are not suitable for everyone and may not always work.

Take Away

Hair loss during or after weight loss can potentially be caused by numerous factors including nutrient deficiencies. However, there are other causes of hair loss as well. So, it is suggested to identify your underlying cause with the help of a specialist and do not conclude that your hair loss is due to weight loss.

Hair loss is a common problem in men. It is not only caused by genetics but also because of diet, poor health, or medications. The average person loses about 100 hair per day, a normal rate. But if you experience extensive hair fall, work with a qualified healthcare provider and ask them to help you with your hair loss problem.                                                    

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