Hypothyroidism and hair loss go hand in hand. Yes, unfortunately when you develop this medical condition hair loss is one of its chief symptoms. Hair cells are some of the fastest growing cells in the body, and when they begin to slow down or stop growing, it is a good indication the body is in trouble.
Thyroid Disease and Hair Loss
Thyroid disease is a large contributor to hair loss with its numbers rapidly growing—almost 0.5% of the U.S. population has some sort of thyroid problem, with women and elderly people being affected most often.
If the disease develops during the first few months of pregnancy permanent developmental damage can occur physically and mentally to the fetus. The fetus needs to get the thyroid hormones from the mother. Thyroid hormones play a key role in normal brain development and deprivation of such hormones can lead to low IQ and impaired psychomotor development.
The lack of iodine is one of the causes of hypothyroidism, specifically in young children, and especially those who live inland where the supply of iodine is limited due to iodine-depleted soil. Another cause of hypothyroidism and hair loss is an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland.
Is it the Drug?
In some cases the hair loss in hypothyroid individuals may be a side effect of the drug levothyroxine (i.e., Synthroid), which is used to treat hypothyroidism. Synthroid is supposed to correct thyroid hormone imbalances and alleviate the symptoms associated with low thyroid function but some people experience prolonged or excessive hair loss as a side effect of such drug.
Also, if you are being treated for hypothyroidism and hair loss is still occurring, it is most likely that you are being under-treated. A second drug or a different one may be needed to stop the hair loss and of course to balance your thyroid function. You may need a combination of T4 and T3. In fact, the New England Journal of Medicine published a report in 1999 saying that many people suffering with hypothyroidism feel better with a combination of T4 and T3. Talk to your doctor about this possibility and find out if this could be the right solution for you.
Alternative Treatments for Hair Loss
Many individuals diagnosed with hypothyroidism have used a nutritional health supplement called evening primrose oil with much success. Also known as EPO, it contains the highest amount of GLA (gamma-linoleic acid) in any food, being an essential fatty acid. Essential means that the body does not produce it therefore it needs to be gotten from food. Since many patients have admitted that using evening primrose oil as a their natural treatment for hair loss has provided positive results we encourage you to try it. But remember… it takes time for the hair to grow so be patient and consistent with your treatment.
Hypothyroidism and hair loss are very connected, and by treating the disorder the symptom should correct itself over time, depending on how long the condition has been present. Nevertheless, knowing that you may react negatively to Synthroid or that your body may need more than T4 (and even the aid of natural compounds) can prove helpful.
Key Nutrients for a Healthy Hair
Protein plays a vital role in maintaining healthy hair. Health experts recommend that you consume 0.5 grams of protein for each pound of body weight, daily. Choose protein that is low in fat such as lean cuts of meat and poultry, fish, and buffalo. Cheese, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds are also great sources of healthy protein. If you are dieting and start noticing that your hair is falling out more than normal it is likely that you have protein deficiency.
Other nutrients that are vital for hair growth and that you should include in your diet are the B vitamins especially B3, B5 and B3. Biotin, inositol, folic acid, sulfur, magnesium and zinc are very importan too.
Two amino acids considered to enhance texture and growth of hair and which you may want to evaluate are L-Cysteine and L-methionine. These are found in health supplements and the recommended serving is 500 mg each two times a day on an empty stomach.
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