Vitamins play a crucial role in the functions of the body. Some have specialized duties serving as chemical messengers, similar to hormones, while others are a part of enzymes termed “co-enzymes” that aid metabolic reactions in the body. When we think about the importance of vitamins, we first want to think about nutrition. “Nutrition is the science of food, the nutrients, and the substances therein, their action, interaction, and balance in relation to health and disease and the process by which the organism ingests, digests, absorbs, transports, utilizes, and excretes food substances” (Reinhard 1998).
The term “vitamin” was derived from a Polish scientist, Cashmir Funk, in 1911. The original term vitamine referred to products considered “vital to life” and were originally thought to have a nitrogen-containing component called an amine. It was later determined that not all vitamins contain an amine compound, thus the “e” was dropped from the word (Herrmann, Wolfgang, Obeid, and Rima 2011).
Thirteen vitamins are essential nutrients to the human diet. Vitamins fall into one of two categories: fat-soluble vitamins or water-soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are the fat- soluble vitamins (Grimes 2010). The solubility of vitamins also helps determine how well the vitamin is stored in the body or how easily it is lost from the body. This also holds true when determining how well the vitamin may hold up when undergoing the cooking and food-preparation process. The solubility of a vitamin can also help when determining food sources of vitamins (Reinhard 1998). Among other roles, vitamins are key players in helping hair grow, preventing hair loss, and improving hair health. Some vitamin disorders and deficiencies can result in alopecia, which has led researchers to explore the role vitamins can play in hair health (Goldsmith 1980).
Chapter 1: Vitamins that Prevent Hair Loss
Vitamin A helps to keep the hair hydrated by stimulating hair follicles, thus producing sebum, which in turn fights hair loss. Vitamin A deficiency can result in coarse, dry, thinning hair (Eat This 2011). Vitamin A controls the production of retinoic acid in the hair follicles, and therefore, it is commonly added to hair care and skin care products. It can be applied topically to the hair shaft or taken orally. Vitamin A appears to promote collagen production, improve wound healing, and play an important role in the function of the immune system. Vitamin A deficiency can cause the skin to become thick, scaly, and dry and can result in obstruction and enlargement of the hair follicles (Combs 2008).
Vitamin A has different forms including retinol, retinal, retinoic acid, and retinyl ester that are jointly referred to as “retinoids.” Provitamin A carotenoids are precursors to retinal and are considered part of the vitamin A family. All-trans retinol is the most potent form of vitamin A and is the form of retinol found in the diet. Vitamin A can be found in foods in various forms. It is present in animal-derived products such as eggs, whole milk, butter, fortified margarine, meat, and oily saltwater fish. Plants, grains, oils, vegetables, especially carrots, and fruits contain carotenoid pigments that are synthesized and converted to vitamin A in the body. Most of the vitamin A consumed in our diet is stored in the liver as retinol; however, our retina, kidneys, lungs, adrenal glands, and intraperitoneal fat also serve as storage reservoirs. This vitamin is primarily eliminated through the urine; however, small amounts are also removed through breath and fecal matter (Reinhard 1998).
The Food and Nutrition Board recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin A is dependent upon age and gender; however, the consensus among different authorities is that 300 to 1300 retinol activity equivalents (RAE) is the daily requirement for an individual (Herrmann, Wolfgang, Obeid, and Rima 2011). Vitamin A holds the greatest potential for hypervitaminosis, due to its range of safe intake being relatively small compared with that of other vitamins (Combs 2008). The RDA should be followed when selecting a supplement unless a dose outside this range is specifically advised by a medical doctor.
Vitamin C is another player in the prevention of hair loss. In addition to fighting against hair loss, this vitamin also helps save hair from premature graying and becoming dry and brittle (Eat This 2011). It can be used in combating many diseases from the common cold to cancer. Prior to 1970, it was most well-known for the role it played in the prevention of scurvy, a disease that has since become a rare disease of the Western world (Reinhard 1998). Since the human body is not capable of making its own vitamin C, it must be consumed through food or dietary supplements (Grimes 2010).
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that has many roles in the the biological reactions of humans. While it can be agreed that this vitamin is a very important part of human nutrition, experts have yet to reach a consensus on the exact dosage needed on a daily basis to maintain health. The main form of biologically active vitamin C is L-Ascorbic acid (or reduced vitamin C). Most all biological reactions involving vitamin C involve the monoanion, ascorbate. Ascorbate is responsible for the antioxidant defense provided by vitamin C.
Good sources of vitamin C include fruits and vegetables, and 90 percent of the daily vitamin C dose is achieved from such sources. Citrus fruits, kiwis, tomatoes, and mangos contain higher concentrations of vitamin C compared with fruits such as bananas or pears. Peppers and broccoli are vegetables high in vitamin C. Ascorbate can be easily degraded through the heating and storage process, thus diminishing the the vitamin C content in these foods. The preparation process should be taken into consideration when ingesting these foods as dietary sources for vitamin C. Boiling or steaming is considered less damaging to the vitamin content than frying at high temperatures. The amount of time the produce is stored, season of the year when the crop is grown, as well as the conditions in which the produce is grown can also effect the vitamin C content of fruits and vegetables. Another valuable source is fruit juices, especially freshly squeezed fruit juices. Animal sources of vitamin C include raw liver and whale skin (Herrmann, Wolfgang, Obeid and Rima 2011).
While most Americans will not become deficient enough in vitamin C to develop scurvy, certain conditions may cause marginal deficiencies. These conditions include aging, prolonged stays in a hospital or other institution, chronic illness, alcohol abuse, smoking, chronic infection, undergoing a major operation, widespread burns, extreme temperature exposure, or the intake of heavy metals (Reinhard 1998).
The Food and Nutrition Board recommends men and women receive 90 and 75 mg per day of vitamin C. The RDA for smokers is an additional 35 mg per day. Pregnant women have an RDA of 85 mg, while breastfeeding women have an even higher RDA of 120 mg. No more than 2000 mg of vitamin C should be consumed per day (Asale 2015). The daily dose of vitamin C can be consumed through the dietary intake of five to six fruits and vegetables per day, or through a dietary supplement. Neither form has proven superior in the bioavailability of vitamin C. For those unable to achieve adequate vitamin C through food choices, a supplement is an acceptable substitute (Herrmann, Wolfgang, Obeid and Rima 2011).
While vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is probably most well-known for its energy-boosting ability, it is also crucial to preventing hair loss. Vitamin B12 deficiency can not only lead to hair loss, but it can also lead to early graying. Adding iron and vitamin C to your diet will aid in the absorption of vitamin B12. Because vitamin B12 is a component of hair itself, it is even more vital to hair loss prevention (Grimes 2010). Vitamin B supplements are usually best taken together as a B-Complex vitamin.
The official daily requirement according to the latest RDA set by the Food and Nutrition Board in 1998 is 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 per day for all adults regardless of gender; however, pregnant and lactating women have slightly higher requirements at 2.6 mcg per day. More recent data suggest the recommended daily adult dose should be increased to 4 to 7 mcg per day. Adults over the age of fifty are recommended to get their daily intake from fortified foods or dietary supplements due to increased risk of B12 malabsorption in this population (Herrmann, Wolfgang, Obeid and Rima 2011).
Vitamin B12 deficiency is quite common among the human population. B12 absorption occurs in the terminal ileum of the small intestine. Those who suffer from conditions such as Crohn’s disease or Celiac disease may have malabsorption issues due to the disease’s effect on the small intestine. Since oral supplements rely on a healthy digestive tract for proper absorption, intramuscular B12 injections will be the only way to provide these patients with an adequate vitamin supply (Reinhard 1998). Vitamin E
is another powerful lipid-soluble antioxidant. It not only helps prevent hair loss but can also reverse it. By applying vitamin E topically and massaging it into the scalp, circulation may be enhanced leading to improved hair growth. Vitamin E can help build capillaries and enhance blood flow (Grimes 2010). Additionally, it can prevent and treat split ends and dry hair that is caused from heat. Vitamin E is often one of the ingredients included in leave in conditioning treatments. The gel capsules can also be cut open to make a mask for the hair. For best results, completely cover the ends with vitamin E gel, leave on for at least one hour, then shampoo. Oral supplements can also be taken to remedy any vitamin E deficiency. The primary biological function of vitamin E is antioxidant activity.
Vitamin E is only synthesized by plants; therefore, the major sources for humans is plants. The richest vitamin E sources are plant oils, such as wheat germ, sunflower, safflower, soybean, and corn oils. Additionally, green plants tend to have a higher concentration of vitamin E compared with yellow plants. Important sources include vegetable oils, seeds, and cereal grains (Combs 2008). While plants synthesize eight molecules with vitamin E activity, alpha-tocopherol is the only one essential to human nutrition. The amount of fat consumed in the meal is also important for the absorption of vitamin E.
The RDA for vitamin E is 15 mg. In the United States, this goal is not met by 96 percent of women and 93 percent of men (Herrmann 2011). The consumption of generous quantities of vitamin E over a lifetime may reduce the risk of chronic disease. Some studies have also shown that smokers may benefit from vitamin C supplementation in order to boost vitamin E levels.
Obvious signs of vitamin E deficiency rarely occur in humans unless they have various fat malabsorption syndromes or genetic abnormalities. Deficiency syndromes can result in peripheral neuropathy (nerve pain), spinocerebellar ataxia, and skeletal muscle pain. Additionally, sufficient vitamin E levels are thought to be necessary for successful reproduction in humans.
Chapter 2: Vitamins that Promote Hair Growth
Biotin (vitamin B7) also commonly referred to as “the hair” vitamin is important in both hair loss and hair growth. This water-soluble vitamin acts as a crucial cofactor for four important carboxylases. It supports the growth of hair while also preventing hair from becoming brittle and fragile. In the event of severe biotin deficiency, hair loss can occur in multiple regions including the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes (Eat This 2011). Oral biotin may possibly be an effective treatment for alopecia areata when given in combination with zinc and topical steroids. Other possible conditions that this vitamin may be used to successfully treat include brittle nails and diabetes. More studies need to be performed in order to provide sufficient evidence to support these findings (Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database 2016).
Biotin is largely found throughout our food sources; however, the concentrations are minimal. The best natural sources are milk, liver, and egg yolk, and some vegetables. It is found in large quantities in royal jelly and brewers’ yeast. Shrimp, dairy products, carrots, and celery are also rich in biotin (Viviscal Hair Expert 2015). The concentration of biotin found in cereal grains, especially, can vary depending on the time of year, plant variety, and crop yield. Food preparation and storage may also contribute to the loss of biotin from our food. Heat as well as the canning process can reduce the biotin levels in food. In an effort to reduce biotin loss, other vitamins such as vitamin C and E can be added (Combs 2007).
Biotin deficiency is rare; however, when it does occur among infants, children, and adults, it leads to alopecia and a characteristic scaly, erythematous dermatitis dispersed around body openings that has a similar appearance to the rash seen with zinc deficiency. Candida albicans, a skin fungus, is often present in the skin lesions. The dermatitis from biotin deficiency may be augmented from these secondary candida fungal infections (Seminars in Dermatology, 1991).
The risk for biotin toxicity appears to be quite low, with humans tolerating doses as high as 200 mg orally or 20 mg intravenously. Animal studies have shown few indications of possible toxicity. In fact, humans can likely tolerate biotin levels significantly greater than those required for nutritional purposes. Excess biotin has even proven to be beneficial for treating the diabetes by lowering glucose levels following meals and improving glucose tolerance. This vitamin is quickly excreted through the urine.
The RDA for biotin has not been established; rather, daily doses are based on adequate intakes (AI). The AI for adults ages eighteen and above is 30 mcg. Lactating women have an increased AI of 35 mcg per day (Combs 2007).
Niacin also known as vitamin B3 or nicotinic acid can increase circulation and blood flow to the scalp, thus having a positive effect on hair growth. Some studies have shown that niacin is more effective when used along with biotin for hair growth (Eat This 2011). Because niacin improves blood flow to the scalp, it is able to bring oxygen and nutrients to hair follicles. This vitamin can dilate blood vessels, and supplements may cause one to experience niacin flush. The aforementioned happens due to widening of capillaries, which creates improved circulation to the scalp and hair follicles. While most cases are harmless, it can indicate niacin toxicity. When using supplements to boost niacin levels, this is a possible risk. Niacin may also reduce the amount of cholesterol in your body. If cholesterol builds up on the scalp, it is transformed into the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, which is associated with hair loss in both men and women (Asale 2015). Niacin is vital to most all aspects of human metabolism (Combs 2007).
Niacin acts as a coenzyme to over two hundred enzymes responsible for carrying out chemical reactions. Additionally, it is responsible for creating new compounds, particularly those containing fat (Reinhard 1998). Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin that transforms carbohydrates into energy we can use. Brewers’ yeast and meat contain the highest concentrations of niacin; however, other good food sources of niacin are eggs, tuna, nuts, and mushrooms. In the United States, it is added to wheat flour as well as other grain foodstuffs. Niacin is absorbed in the stomach and small intestine and is not affected by the presence or lack of food in the stomach (Combs 2007).
The US diet provides adequate niacin content. Niacin is measured in niacin equivalents (NE), which accounts for the body’s ability to convert tryptophan into niacin. One NE is equal to 1 mg of niacin and 60 mg of tryptophan. The daily recommended intake (DRI) is 16 NE for men and 14 NE for women. Special populations, such as alcoholics or those who suffer from malnutrition may be at higher risk for niacin deficiency.
Deficiency is most commonly due to poor bioavailability of the vitamin rather than lack of vitamin consumption. Pellegra, a disease commonly associated with countries that used corn as a staple food, baffled scientists for centuries. In 1937, a study showed that nicotinic acid cured pellagra in dogs, and shortly after, this treatment began being applied to humans. Symptoms of pellagra include dementia, diarrhea, dermatitis, and finally death. While corn contains a fair amount of niacin, it is bound to a protein making it unavailable for absorption following consumption. It was discovered that soaking corn in an alkaline solution, such as lime water, renders niacin available for absorption. Today, pellegra remains problematic in some continents including Asia and Africa (Reinhard 1998).
Chapter 3: Improving Hair Health
Vitamin D is essential to total body health, and thus it is important in maintaining healthy hair. This fat-soluble vitamin aids in calcium absorption, which is necessary for healthy hair follicles. It is also important in the cycling of hair follicles, as it stimulates the hair follicle as well as the cells making up the hair shaft (Eat This 2011). It can also be used to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis. Vitamin D supplementation may be prescribed to treat skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and eczema (Grimes 2010).
A unique characteristic of vitamin D is that humans can actually produce it themselves with adequate exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Vitamin D deficiency results in lesions of the bones. Rickets, a condition effecting the bones, was first noted in the seventeenth century by Daniel Whistler and Francis Glisson. Around 1900, a strong correlation was found between the infant mortality rate and rickets. Ninety-six percent of the infants who died at the age of eighteen months or less tested positive for rickets. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as Europe and North America underwent industrialization and urbanization, the incidence of rickets increased. During the era of the industrial revolution, some geographical locations reported 40 to 60 percent of children under the age of five suffered from rickets. In 1919 - 1920, Sir Edward Mellanby, who was performing research on dogs that were raised solely indoors, discovered these animals were acquiring rickets through a dietary deficiency. Scientists named this fat-soluble substance with anti-rachitic properties vitamin D. If a person lives indoors only or in the absence of sunlight for any reason, then supplementation with vitamin D is essential to proper nutrition. Patients who are institutionalized or people who live in regions such as North America or Europe during the winter months would need to incorporate a vitamin D supplements or foods rich in vitamin D into their diet (Herrmann, Wolgang, Obeid and Rima 2011).
Anywhere from 80 to 90 percent of human vitamin D supply can be attributed to skin synthesis of vitamin D. The amount of vitamin D production increases in the summer months around June and July. Exposure of the arms and legs for five to thirty minutes twice weekly between ten o’clock in the morning and three o’clock in the afternoon is generally considered adequate exposure to meet vitamin D needs. However, the amount of vitamin D produced from the sun exposure is dependent upon several factors including the season, time of day, geographical location, weather conditions such as cloudiness or air pollution, use of sunscreen, as well as skin type. Darker skin tones yield lower vitamin D production. This occurs because darker pigmentation yields higher amounts of ultraviolet radiation absorbed by melanin and thus less vitamin D production. A darker skinned individual must spend approximately six times the amount of time in the sun compared with a fair skinned individual living in certain geographical locations. In fact, African Americans have poorer vitamin D statuses compared with Caucasian Americans due to this very fact (Herrmann, Wolfgang, Obeid and Rima 2011).
While vitamin D is very important for the prevention of rickets, it also possesses strong immunomodulatory properties. The active form of vitamin D along with the minerals calcium, phosphorous, and zinc play an important role in bone health (Combs 2007). Vitamin D is available as ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) or cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) (Combs 2007).
The primary food sources of vitamin D are animal products. Fatty saltwater fish, like salmon as well as fish oils are the best natural sources. Plants, fruits, and nuts are considered extremely insignificant vitamin D sources. Due to the lack of vitamin D content found in human food sources, many of today’s food products have been fortified with vitamin D. This includes breakfast cereals, infant food, milk, and juices (Combs 2007). Some humans who are unable to maintain adequate vitamin D levels through food and sunlight exposure, may need to take a supplement. The most recent recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin D for healthy individuals was set forth by the Institute of Medicine in 2010. The RDA is based upon age, with ages one to seventy requiring 600 International Units (IU) per day, those seventy-one and above needing 800 IU daily, lactating women 600 IU and infants ages zero to twelve months 400 IU per day. Vitamin D deficiency in adults may also be dosed at 50,000 IU weekly for six to twelve weeks (naturaldatabase, vitamin D 2015).
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) is an ingredient sometimes added to haircare and skincare products. It can aid in hair health by promoting blood flow to the scalp (Gardner 2015). This in turn promotes hair growth and fights against hair loss. It is also important in maintaining healthy skin, and it plays an important role in the way our bodies use carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids (Medline Plus 2015). It can be used to treat several conditions including baldness, acne, allergies, graying hair as well as multiple other conditions (Medline Plus 2015).
Pantothenic acid can be found in many sources including animal products, vegetables, cereals, eggs, milk, beans, and peas. It is also commercially available in the forms of D-pantothenic acid, dexpanthenol, and calcium pantothenate, which are laboratory-derived chemicals. The recommended daily intake (RDI) for pantothenic acid is age dependent. Adults ages fourteen and above have an RDI of 5 mg. Pregnant and lactating women have higher RDI’s of 6 mg and 7 mg. It is often used in combination with other B vitamins and can usually be found as an ingredient of vitamin B complex. Taking a B complex vitamin may be better than taking pantothenic acid alone because it will reduce the risk of B vitamin imbalance. This combination can also be beneficial to the health of your hair.
Because pantothenic acid is so widely available among food products, vitamin B5 deficiency rarely occurs in industrialized countries (Combs 2007). And while deficiency is rare, it can result in hair loss. On the flip side, pantothenic acid overdose can be very harmful and result in diarrhea and increase the risk of bleeding. It can also interact with some antibiotics and medications used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Before incorporating this supplement into your daily regimen, it is advised to first consult with your physician.
Chapter 4: Dietary Supplements, Herbal Products, and Minerals
Amino acids keep our hair looking shiny and healthy. Our bodies break down the protein we consume from food sources in order to make the essential amino acids our bodies need. Therefore, adequate caloric intake of protein is vital to ensuring your body is meeting its daily nutritional needs of these amino acids, thus keeping your hair nice and lustrous. Good sources of essential amino acids are nuts, lean meats, dairy foods, grains, soy, eggs, and fish. Those who consume too few daily calories to maintain good hair health or those who suffer from medical conditions such as anorexia nervosa, typically have dry, brittle hair. The luster will typically begin to fade, hair will be easily damaged, and it will no longer feel good to touch. While a well-balanced diet is generally adequate to maintain the levels of amino acids needed for healthy hair, malabsorption problems could arise with advanced age. However, this could likely be alleviated with the addition of a supplement. Our bodies convert proteins into five amino acids including lysine, arginine, cysteine, cysteine, and methionine. Unlike the other amino acids, cysteine and methionine are both sulfur-containing amino acids. Sulfur is a necessary component for hair growth, making these two amino acids stand out.
Cysteine is a non-essential amino acid that the body can make on its own. It is important to hair growth because it delivers sulfur to replicating hair follicle cells. Several foods high in protein contain cysteine including eggs, milk, whey protein, cheese, and chicken. It is also found in vegetables such as red peppers and brussel sprouts and grains such as outs and wheat.
Methionine is an essential amino acid, meaning our bodies are unable to produce it, and it must come from a food source or supplement. And while methionine is essential to hair health, it is broken down by our bodies to homocysteine and can be toxic. If adding a daily supplement, keep this in mind and stay within the recommended daily dose of 250 mg per day (Rassman, Pak, Schweiger and Bernstein 2009).
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) can be taken by mouth or applied topically. People have been known to use this to treat alopecia, wounds, wrinkles, and joint pain due to osteoarthritis, chronic pain, and rheumatoid arthritis to name a few. It is most commonly used orally as a supplement for osteoarthritis and is usually dosed at 500 mg three times daily; however, no RDA for MSM has been established. MSM is derived from green plants, fruits, vegetables, grains, some types of algae, as well as human milk, urine, and adrenal glands. It also acts as a sulfur source to the two sulfur containing amino acids, cysteine and methionine. Studies done on animals show that MSM may help reduce inflammation and inhibit degenerative changes in the joints of the studied animals (Natural Medicines Database 1995 - 2016).
Omega 3 and omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids are both needed to maintain hair health. They both have intrinsic health benefits, but when the ratio is way out of balance, that benefit is lost. Today's diet consists of a lot of fast food and pre-packaged snacks and meals. These types of foods are often sources of omega 6. Omega 3 on the other hand is mainly found in oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines to name a few as well as nuts. To maintain healthy levels of omega 3, you should eat fish twice per week or take an omega 3 supplement daily. The reason this balance between the two essential fatty acids is needed is due to the way they work. Omega 3 decreases inflammation, while omega 6 is a key player in promoting inflammation.
Saw Palmetto is possibly the most well-known herbal treatment for hair loss. However, unlike vitamins and minerals, herbal products are not FDA approved and therefore cannot be held to the same standards. The amount of ingredient listed in a product may vary from what is listed on the actual packaging. Consumers should exercise caution when using these products. With that said, saw palmetto has been used for centuries dating back to the time of the Native Americans, at which time it was used in older men who difficulty urinating. Studies have been performed and results have shown its effectiveness as treatment for benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). While it is not FDA-approved for the treatment of hair loss, it has shown some favorable outcomes when tested in some smaller studies. According to a study published in the 2002 Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 60 percent of test subjects who took 400 mg of saw palmetto and 100 mg of beta-sitosterol showed improved hair growth in comparison to the placebo group (Moody, 2015). Possible side effects include nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea.
There are six inorganic minerals fundamental to preserving hair health: copper, iodine, iron, selenium, silica, and zinc. Iron deficiency is linked to anemia, a condition that may worsen or even cause hair loss. Regardless of the underlying cause of the hair loss, low iron levels can potentiate the problem. It has also been discovered that women who develop hair loss have lower iron levels compared to women without alopecia. Iron supplementation should only be done after consulting with a physician and a proper diagnosis of anemia has been given because too much iron is associated with its own set of problems. Iron can be found in cereals, grains, pastas, soybeans, and lentils. Red meat, shellfish, and dark, leafy green vegetables are excellent iron sources (Gardner 2015).
Copper is a necessary mineral responsible for the enzymatic function in plants and animals. It can be found in seafood, including oysters, squid, and lobster. Other good sources are nuts, almonds, pistachios, legumes, and chocolate. The recommended daily intake (RDI) for adults is 0.9 mg, with the RDI for pregnant and lactating women being slightly higher at 1mg and 1.3 mg per day. Copper deficiency could result in diarrhea, weakness, anemia, or even hair loss (Rassman 2009).
Zinc is an important player in cell regeneration, the production of sebum on the scalp, and the formation of protein. Zinc gluconate or acetate lozenges are commonly used to treat symptoms of the common cold. Zinc may also be used intranasally as a nose spray to treat or prevent the common cold. A deficiency in this mineral may result in widespread hair loss, dry skin, impaired wound healing, anorexia, nausea, or diarrhea. Zinc deficiency is not common in the United States; however, it is a common deficiency worldwide. Alcoholism, chronic renal impairment, chronic diseases, and acute paranoid schizophrenia attacks are associated with modest zinc deficiencies. The Institute of Medicine has established the RDA of zinc for men over the age of fourteen as 11 mg per day and for women ages nineteen and above as 8 mg per day (natural medicines database, zinc 1995-2016). Food sources of zinc include oysters, animal proteins, beans, nuts, grains, and seeds.
Vitamins and minerals have such a large impact on our bodies and body systems. With modern medicine, scientists have been able find out so much about how these substances impact our health and wellness. Eating a well-balanced diet is the first place to start in providing your body with the nutrients it needs to thrive. For those who may not eat as healthy as one should or who may have malabsorption problems, many supplements are readily available at local drug stores, grocery stores, vitamin stores, and even online.
While hair loss remains a condition that is not yet curable, hair loss that results from vitamin or mineral deficiencies could be managed with the right blend of supplements. It is important to note that no amount or blend of vitamins or minerals will cure male or female pattern baldness. They will merely fortify your body and body systems with the nutrients needed to make the most of the hair you have. Please be mindful that some supplements can be dangerous if consumed in doses above the recommended amounts. It is always best to err on the side of caution. If taking prescription medications, check with your doctor or pharmacist before adding on any over the counter products, since some could interact with your prescription medications.
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