Hair loss is not always the first thing that you would associate with the menopause, however 4 in 10 women may experience thinning of hair during this hormonal transition.
The build up to the menopause may take up to 10 years and during the peri-menopausal period some women notice they gradually lose volume, sheen and the grey starts to creep in. On top of that hair may become dry, brittle, fuzzy or even oilier than normal. A woman’s crowning glory is very much linked to her identity, self-esteem, sexuality and femininity. Changes experienced may affect self-confidence and mood, in fact hair loss may even contribute to feelings of depression.
Why does hair change?
There are a variety of factors that may contribute to alterations in hair growth and quality. During the perimenopause hormones fluctuate and oestrogen begins to decline. At the same time male hormones such as the androgen testosterone may start to increase. Oestrogen tends to help promote hair growth so as levels decline this may start to influence the growth phase of the hair. Androgens, such as testosterone, have been linked to thinning of the hair, much like male pattern hair loss.
Testosterone may also encourage the growth of hair in other areas such as around the chin or above the top lip. It can be frustrating losing hair from where you want it and finding hair in places you don’t want it! Stress may also be a contributing factor when it comes to hair loss as stress may directly inhibit hair growth.
Keep your hair on!
There are several nutrition tips to employ to help support healthy hair and the sooner you start the better. There are a few key nutrients that help contribute to hair growth so a good place to start is with food.
Eat good protein – which provide amino acids, such as lysine, the building blocks for healthy hair. Good sources include meat, poultry, eggs, fish, yoghurt.
Keep iron levels optimum – there is a strong link between low iron and hair loss. Alongside protein rich meats iron can be found in shellfish, beans, apricots and spinach. Eating vitamin C rich foods, like peppers and broccoli, aids iron absorption. Avoid iron ferrous supplements as these may trigger uncomfortable bowel issues, instead opt for a gut friendly iron supplement like Floradix.
Eat oily fish – wild, line caught oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are important for hormone balance and hair density. Eating at least three portions of oily fish a week is ideal. Choose from salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, trout or fresh tuna.
Snack on nuts and seeds – rich in many minerals such as selenium, zinc, omega-3 and omega-6 to help support hair quality.
Boost B vitamins – many of the B vitamins contribute to healthy hair and support hormone balance. This family of vitamins can be found in a variety of foods such as lentils, pulses, wholegrains, dark meat of chicken or turkey, mushrooms, eggs, dark green leafy vegetables, avocado and bananas.
Caring for your hair
Be kind to your hair and invest in a few hair TLC products as this could make a huge difference. Avoid over brushing and styling with straighteners or a hairdryer. Swap your hair dye to one that contains fewer (or no) harmful chemicals such as ammonia. The same goes for shampoos, conditioners and styling products – choose more natural versions as this may help with hair condition particularly if you have dry frizzy hair. Moisturise your hair weekly with a deep conditioning treatment. Warmed coconut oil can be applied for an hour and then washed out or use a protein repair hair mask.
Hair supportive supplements
- Omega-3 – fish oil, krill oil or flax oil for vegans.
- Vitamin D – low levels are common and are linked to hair loss .
- Horsetail – rich in silica, used traditionally to support hair growth.
- A combined approach helps support luscious locks as you cope with the changes that the menopause brings.