Most of us would have heard about thyroid and that thyroid imbalances can cause problems; however, not many of us would actually be aware of how thyroid can affect our body. As a matter of fact, thyroid imbalance is one of the leading factors for hair loss. There are several cases, wherein people with thick hair suddenly started noticing more hair in the shower, as opposed to their head. However, they do not realise that this hair loss could be because of thyroid. As a matter of fact, hair loss caused due to thyroid can lead to even women noticing their scalp becoming clearly visible!
The thyroid gland is a part of the endocrine system and helps control the speed at which the body uses up energy, how the body makes proteins and how the body reacts to other hormones. Too much thyroid or too little thyroid will cause trouble in the body, leading to a range of problems, including weight fluctuation, palpitations, increase or decrease in appetite and of course, hair loss.
In this article and the following one, we will look at how thyroid can play havoc with your hair and what you can do to bring your hair back to normal:
Low levels of stomach acids: While many of us might know that stomach acids help with digestion, very few of us would be aware that if the levels of stomach acid are low, the protein from the food will not get digested properly. Since hair is essentially made of protein, this situation creates a problem. Our body is wise enough to understand that it will be able to survive without hair, which is why it will redirect the existing protein to the heart and other essential organs; leading to hair loss. Studies have also shown that low stomach acids will lead to improper absorption of iron, which again is important for hair growth.
An easy way to control stomach acid levels is by drinking warm water and lemon, first thing in the morning. The lemon will balance the acid levels in the stomach, not only assisting with proper digestion of protein and iron, but also reducing the chances of heartburns.
Low levels of ferritin: Ferritin is technically the form of iron, in which it is stored in the body, and low levels of the same is one of the most common causes of hair loss. As discussed in the above mentioned point, thyroid imbalances lead to improper digestion of iron, which in turn leads to hair fall. When the ferritin levels in the body are correct, the anagen phase of hair is maximized, and this allows hair to grow to its full potential. The bulb of the hair is where all the cells are produced and when the essential iron leeches out from the bulb, there is no way the hair will grow properly.
It is important to get ferritin levels checked regularly, because if there is a deficiency, then it would be advisable to consume iron supplements. Organic foods such as buffalo liver can also be consumed in moderate quantities to improve the iron levels in the body. However, it is important that iron supplements are complemented by multivitamins, or else, there would be new issues related to too much iron in the body.
Nutritional deficiencies: Perhaps one of the most common causes of thyroid imbalance is the body not having sufficient nutrition. Nutrition is important in an all-round manner, because not only will our hair feel healthier with the right food going into our body, but it will also ensure that the thyroid functions properly. While a healthy diet is important, it might become necessary to include certain multivitamins as well. If there is a doubt that hair loss is happening due to nutritional deficiency that is linked to thyroid imbalance, it is crucial that you be tested for the same. Specific tests should be done with vitamin D, B12, zinc and magnesium, because each of these has a connection with hair.
The best way to handle nutritional deficiencies is to eat right and include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in the daily diet. Non-vegetarians can also include lean meats, eggs and fish in their regular diet. With advice from a doctor, one can also start taking multi vitamins or other nutritional supplements.
Proper treatment of thyroid: Studies have shown that thyroid hormones are directly associated with hair follicles. The same study showed that T3 and T4 thyroid actually moderated several parameters of the hair, including colour and growth cycles. Now, most commonly, the drugs that are prescribed to treat hypothyroidism will control only the T4 hormone, and this T4 is actually essential for the conversion of the T3 hormone. When either of the hormones goes out of balance, so does our hair, and hence there is hair loss. This is why, it is crucial that your hypothyroidism treatment combines medication for T3 as well as T4 hormones. It is also important that when you are tested for thyroid, every aspects of it is checked, including TSH, Free T3, Reverse T3, Free T4 as well as thyroid antibodies.
Treating thyroid is something your doctor should be able to do for and starting with the right set of tests would be the best bet. The optimal treatment would be to target the exact hormones that are out of balance.
In the continual article, we will look at some of the other reasons that could lead to thyroid related problems, as well as hair loss.