While the quantity of hair on people’s heads can vary, each of us has about 100,000 hair follicles and it’s normal for a person to shed about 50 to 100 individual hairs per day.
Thinning hair occurs when we start to see an increase in those numbers. It can be caused by hereditary factors or hormonal changes. On occasion, sudden hair loss or the development of bald patches or head itchiness can also occur, which should signal the need for a consultation with a medical professional.
For the most part, however, thinning hair may simply be due to getting older. Nearly half of adults are affected by thinning hair or moderate hair loss by age 50.1 However, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t some steps you can take to help keep more hair on your head.
Improve Your Diet
Lack of diet quality is also closely linked to thinning hair. The reason is that hair follicles require regular delivery of oxygen and nutrients, such as a sufficient supply of amino acid from proteins, vitamins, and minerals from blood vessels to support hair growth and quality.2
An important example is iron—low levels of iron can lead to hair loss and it’s the world’s most prevalent nutritional deficiency. Iron is essential in the transport of oxygen around the body and the human hair follicle contains various genes which may be regulated by iron.3
Keep iron levels topped up by eating iron-rich foods such as red meat, liver, pulses and fortified foods.3-5 In addition, be aware that women tend to have higher iron requirements than men, and iron deficiency is most prevalent among women during menstruation and pregnancy.
If you are not getting sufficient iron in the diet, consider taking a supplement.
Supplement with Keratin—Not Found In Your Diet
Hair is primarily made up of keratin, a structural protein.6 Unfortunately, keratin is not found in the diet and, when taken as a supplement, it is difficult to absorb.
The solution is Cynatine® HNS Keratin, an ingredient comprised of hydrolysed soluble keratin that is more easily absorbed by the body. In a clinical trial, subjects experienced a 34% reduction in hair loss when taking Cynatine® HNS Keratin alongside zinc, biotin, copper and B vitamins. Hair growth was also measured and the supplemented group showed a 9% improvement after 90 days.7
Uncontrolled stress can lead to raised levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone normally produced in higher amounts in the morning and gradually decreases over the course of the day. However, when we are under continuous stress cortisol levels can remain elevated.
Elevated cortisol could lead to inhibited hair growth. The result may be increased hair loss, particularly when stress is acute or chronic.8 Fortunately, any sudden hair loss as a result from acute stress is not usually permanent. The hair normally grows back within the next few months. Watch out for accompanied changes in colour, as stress can also cause grey hair by damaging pigment-generating cells.9
While stress is too often unavoidable, it is important to have a range of strategies to help keep it at bay. Mindfulness and meditation can be effective methods to build into your daily routine to help manage stress.10,11 Deep breathing has been found to have a positive effect on self-reported mood and stress as well as other parameters, such as heart rate and salivary cortisol levels.12>
Get Enough Exercise
Aerobic exercise, such as running, is not only great at reducing stress. It can also help to support blood flow required for providing oxygen and nutrients to hair follicles. Aim to be physically active every day. You don’t need to train excessively, which can be stressful in itself. Any amount of exercise will do. Recommendations are to attempt to achieve around 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week.13
Try a daily head massage
Research suggests that massaging your scalp may lead to thicker hair.14 Even better news is that a scalp massage can easily be self-administered at home. It may also have the ancillary benefit of helping you relax! However, for scalp massage to work for helping keep more hair on your head, you need to be consistent—as it can take between 12 and 24 weeks for it to have an effect.
Healthy Hair Ahead
There is no miracle cure for thinning hair, but consistently incorporating these lifestyle recommendations into your routine means that your hair will have the best chance of being healthy and strong.
Guo EL, Katta R. Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatol Pract Concept. 2017 Jan 31;7(1):1-10.
Ralph M Trüeb, MD. Serum Biotin Levels in Women Complaining of Hair Loss. Int J Trichology. 2016 Apr-Jun; 8(2): 73–77
Almohanna HM, Ahmed AA, Tsatalis JP, Tosti A. The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2019 Mar;9(1):51-70.
Deloche C, Bastien P, Chadoutaud S, Galan P, Bertrais S, Hercberg S, de Lacharrière O. Low iron stores: a risk factor for excessive hair loss in non-menopausal women. Eur J Dermatol. 2007 Nov-Dec;17(6):507-12.
Moeinvaziri M, Mansoori P, Holakooee K, Safaee Naraghi Z, Abbasi A. Iron status in diffuse telogen hair loss among women. Acta Dermatovenerol Croat. 2009;17(4):279-84.
Cruz, C.F.; Costa, C.; Gomes, A.C.; Matamá, T.; Cavaco-Paulo, A. Human Hair and the Impact of Cosmetic Procedures: A Review on Cleansing and Shape-Modulating Cosmetics. Cosmetics 2016, 3, 26.
Beer C, Wood S, Veghte RH. A clinical trial to investigate the effect of Cynatine HNS on hair and nail parameters. Scientific World Journal. 2014;2014: 641723
Thom E. Stress and the Hair Growth Cycle: Cortisol-Induced Hair Growth Disruption. J Drugs Dermatol. 2016 Aug 1;15(8):1001-4.
Zhang B et al. Hyperactivation of sympathetic nerves drives depletion of melanocyte stem cells. Nature. 2020 Jan;577(7792):676-681.
Goyal M, Singh S, Sibinga EM, Gould NF, Rowland-Seymour A, Sharma R, Berger Z, Sleicher D, Maron DD, Shihab HM, Ranasinghe PD, Linn S, Saha S, Bass EB, Haythornthwaite JA. Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Mar;174(3):357-68.
harma M, Rush SE. Mindfulness-based stress reduction as a stress management intervention for healthy individuals: a systematic review. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2014 Oct;19(4):271-86.
Perciavalle V, Blandini M, Fecarotta P, Buscemi A, Di Corrado D, Bertolo L, Fichera F, Coco M. The role of deep breathing on stress. Neurol Sci. 2017 Mar;38(3):451-458.
Exercise. National Health Service. Oct 2019. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/#what-counts-as-moderate-aerobic-activity/
Koyama T, Kobayashi K, Hama T, Murakami K, Ogawa R. Standardized Scalp Massage Results in Increased Hair Thickness by Inducing Stretching Forces to Dermal Papilla Cells in the Subcutaneous Tissue. Eplasty. 2016 Jan 25;16:e8.