Micronutrients have great importance in public health. Over the years multiple studies have been carried out to understand the role and health consequences of having a micronutrient deficient diet. Different types of vitamins and minerals are important for people as it enables the human body to function healthily, such as cell and tissue repair, production of cells, and many other functions, including hair growth.
There is a strong correlation between nutrition and hair health. Many times we fail to realize that what we eat, not only affect our physical health, but it also affects our hair.
Hair follicles, which regulates hair growth have high turnover and the active metabolism of hair follicle requires a rich supply of nutrients and energy. Deficiencies of several components such as proteins, minerals, and vitamins could lead to hair loss and in severe cases, it could lead to the development of certain diseases.
Hair loss is believed to be a result of multiple mechanisms and nutritional deficiency is one of them. Some other mechanisms or factors that could affect hair growth include oxidative stress, pollution, and various physical disorders.
Importance of nutrition for hair
Protein is one of the major constituents of the hair fiber and lack of protein in the body leads to could lead to impair hair growth. Depending on the moisture content, it is believed that hair consists of 70% to 90% proteins. Amino acids are the building blocks of the proteins from which the hair is created and it plays an important role in maintaining hair health. Hair is primarily made of proteins which are of a hard fibrous type which is known as keratin
Keratins are natural proteins that play an important role in hair growth. Keratin consists of two types and human hair are known as hard keratin and it consists of a large percent of protein. Hair keratins are known as intracellular cytoskeleton proteins which are formed in the epithelial follicle cells during the cycle in which the hair develops and includes anagen phase, catagen phase, and telogen phase.
The most common nutritional deficiency is that of proteins and this is because most of the foodstuffs are low in proteins. Some of the good sources of proteins include soybean meal, cottonseed meal, fish meal, and legume hay.
2. Vitamin A
Vitamin A belongs to the group of fat-soluble vitamins and is essential for multiple functions in the body. According to research, supplements of vitamin A are often used in the treatment of hair problems. Vitamin A promotes hair growth and repairs the cells to make the hair healthy. Also, it helps to keep the scalp moist and prevents dry hair.
Oxidative stress is one of the common cause of hair loss these days and it is believed to be due to the competitive lifestyle, stress, and other factors. Oxidative stress is one of the greatest sources of generating free radicals in the body which increases the level of nitric oxide, lipid peroxidation, and glutathione derivatives, and leads to hair loss. In this case, vitamin A plays an important role and prevents hair loss. Vitamin A protects the cells of hair follicles from damage that is caused by free radicals.
Also, deficiency of vitamin A in the body causes the hair to become dry and prone to fall. Some of the rich sources of vitamin A include fish oils, milk, green leafy vegetables, and egg.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid and is an essential nutrient for many functions in the human body. Vitamin C is also a major nutrient which helps to produce and maintain healthy collagen, a type of connective tissue found in hair. It also acts as a strong antioxidant which protects the cells that are found within the follicles.
Vitamin C is considered to be an essential vitamin for the synthesis of collagen and cross-linkage of keratin fibers. Deficiency of vitamin C affects the hair and leads to the development of many problems associated with hair such as dry and flaky hair and in severe deficiency, it causes hair disorders.
Vitamin C can be found in many natural sources such as fresh fruits and vegetables and some of the richest sources include Indian gooseberry, citrus fruits such as limes, oranges and lemons, and green leafy vegetables such as broccoli.
4. Vitamin H
Vitamin H, more commonly known as biotin is an essential and effective vitamin required to maintain the health of hair. It belongs to the class of B complex group of vitamins. The deficiency of biotin is rare, but if a deficiency occurs it can have a significant impact on hair. Biotin is important for the metabolism of scalp oils. When scalp absorbs biotin, it penetrates the hair shaft and promotes hair growth and healthy hair.
Biotin deficiency could lead to the development of hair disorders, such as trichorrhexis nodosa. Trichorrhexis nodosa is a problem which occurs in the hair shaft and is characterized by the thickening of hair and making them prone to fall easily. It is associated with a wide range of symptoms such as damaged hair, hair loss, and lack of growth. It makes the hair to look dull and flaky. Some of the rich sources of biotin include avocado, nuts, egg yolk, salmon, and dairy products.
Multiple studies consider zinc to be a hair growth modulator and immunomodulator as various processes have been dependent on zinc in the body. Zinc deficiency in the body could lead to various problems such as thinning of hair, white and brittle hair, and in fact, it could lead to the development of diseases like alopecia areata and telogen effluvium.
Alopecia areata is hair disorder which is defined as a sudden loss of hair and is characterized by the occurrence of one or more round patches which may overlap. Ensuring the adequate intake of zinc is important to maintain hair health and prevent hair loss. Some of the food choices you can make that have high zinc value include shellfish, dairy, seeds, egg, and legumes.
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