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Supplements for Thinning Hair

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 10 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Thinning Hair Iron Supplements Nutrients

Many women suffer from thinning hair when they approach middle age - and sometimes before. Sometimes the process is a hereditary one, while for other people thinning hair or hair loss is linked to stress or other environmental factors.

The good news is that in some cases, the process can be slowed down – or stopped altogether – by either changing our diets and/or taking specific supplements designed to increase hair growth.

Often, eating more healthily and trying to reduce the stress in our lives is all that is needed to slow down hair loss, and in some cases stop it altogether.

Why Women's Hair Thins

Our hair follicles regularly go through four distinct phases, or cycles. They are the growth stage (anagen), the transition stage (catagen), the resting stage (telogen) and the returning stage (mesangen).

When there is what is an uncharacteristic period of hair loss, that is called "telogen effluvium". This happens when the hair follicles stop their normal cycle and, for some reason, move into the resting stage – or the "off" stage.

This can occur for a variety of reasons. For women, it can be the result of menopause, seasonal changes, stress or hereditary factors. It can also be related to a thryoid problem, yeast disorder, hormonal imbalance, or vitamin deficiency – or other factors.

In some cases hair loss is only temporary, while in others it can be more permanent. The first step is to see your GP and see why your hair loss is occurring, then take steps to do something about it. Often, a change in diet is all that is needed.

Healthy, Iron-Rich Diet

Nutritionists recommend a healthy diet for all sorts of reasons, one of which is healthy hair. If you are unduly stressed, eating foods that can calm you down can also play an essential role in stopping hair loss. Drinking calming teas such as camomile and lemon balm tea can be the first step.

Iron, of course, is perhaps the most important mineral we need for healthy hair, and nutritionists reckon that roughly 40 percent of women in the UK are not getting enough of it. You can up your iron intake by eating:

  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Lean red meat
  • Leafy, dark green vegetables such as spinach
  • Plenty of pulses

It is recommended that women try to eat at least one serving of food that is rich in iron every day, and then top up their intake with an iron supplement containing at least 14 grams of the mineral.


Iodine is another mineral which, if lacking, can affect hair growth. A lack of iodine can wreak havoc with the thyroid gland, which can affect the hair follicles and slow down the growth of your hair.

One way to get enough iodine in your diet is to purchase iodised salt; that is perhaps the easiest way to ensure you have enough of this precious mineral in your regular diet.

Other Nutrients for Healthy Hair

Here are some other nutrients you can take for healthy hair:
  • Calcium, zinc, magnesium copper
  • Fish oils that are rich in essential fatty acids
  • Vitamins B, C, D and E
  • Biotin and silica
If you suffer from thinning hair, it's a good idea to visit your GP and see what can be done as soon as possible. A blood test can often determine if you are deficient in iron or ferritin, which helps your body store a sufficient iron supply, and release it when needed, as well as pointing out other problems which could point to hair loss.

Keep in mind that sometimes we lose hair during times of stress, and that if that is the case, it might grow back. Taking the right supplements and trying to keep your stress levels down are two things you can do to help thinning hair replenish itself.

Remember, however, that you should always check with your GP before taking supplements of any kind, as some can interfere with prescribed medication you may be taking, and occasionally with each other.

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