I have noticed that since contracting Covid a number of my clients have complained about excessive hair loss. In this article I am going to talk through the root causes of hair loss and how can we help to strengthen our hair follicles and regain hair growth.
Telogen effluvium is a form of temporary hair loss that usually happens several months after a person experiences a traumatic event or stress. A study found that it occurs in 66% of people who contacted COVID-19. Ferritin (the storage of Iron) is removed from the body post infection. The infection causes inflammation in the body resulting in an increase of hepcidin (a protein which regulates the entry of iron into the circulation of mammals). Increased concentration of Hepcidin impairs dietary absorption of Iron which further affects hair follicles1.
This can lead to anaemia. Check with your medical practitioner first before you decide to take Iron supplements. Natural sources of Iron include: red meat, liver, legumes and pulses such as red kidney beans, peas and lentils and dark green vegetables such as kale and spinach.
Hair loss is also associated with immune nutrient depletion. White blood cells need nutrients such as vitA and Zinc to help our body fight infection. These also help to improve thyroid function and thyroid hormone production. Deficiency of these nutrients can affect our thyroid health and thyroid hormone levels. Prolonged and severe hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause hair loss.
The immune system requires folate (known as vitB9) especially follinic acid (naturally found in food). Depletion of this can cause the hair follicle to become undernourished and weak resulting in hair loss. Folate helps to promote hair growth and add volume2. Good food sources of folate include: liver, seafood, dark green leafy vegetables, sunflower seeds, eggs, beans and whole grains.
Stress is a big contributor to hair loss. When fighting severe infections such as COVID-19 our body is put under significant stress. It is not only depleted of nutrients but also stress compromises the digestive system. Stress reduces our stomach acid production (hydroloric acid) which is essential for sufficient digestion of food and key nutrients. Some of the nutrients such as Vitamin K, B12, B3, folic acid and biotin which are essential for hair cycling and growth. Low hydrochloric acid levels can affect your stomach’s ability to digest and absorb proteins. It can also damage your gut and lead to digestive health issues and infections. You can naturally improve your stomach acid production by incorporating apple cider vinegar in your diet.
Raw apple cider vinegar can increase stomach acid levels because its acidic properties introduce more acid into the digestive tract. Other than increasing stomach acid levels, raw apple cider vinegar has been associated with reducing symptoms from acid reflux, diabetes, and high blood sugar3. Zinc is an essential mineral present in human cells. The stomach uses zinc to produce HCL. Addressing a zinc deficiency could help increase stomach acidity. Some Zink-rich foods include: oysters, beef, nuts and seeds. Your medical practitioner may also prescribe supplements such as betaine hydrochloride to restore the pH of your stomach.
If any of above sounds familiar – please contact me for a nutritional assessment.
Magdalena Marvell is a Nutritional Practitioner and Founder of the Persea Clinic which helps support clients who want to optimise their health in areas such as gut health, hormonal balance, skin conditions, weight management, family nutrition. To find out more about her work please visit www.persea.clinic.
Healthy recipes with Magdalena – Lentil and bean salad
This salad is a perfect post work out snack. It is packed with protein but also beans and lentils are a great source of Zinc and Iron, vitC, vitA and Folate (vitB9) – everything you need to support your immunity and hair growth!
• cup of dried red lentils
• 2 cloves of garlic
• cup tomato puree or passata
• 1 can kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
• 1 red pepper
• 3-4 spring onions
• salt and pepper
How to make it:
- Add 1 part of red lentils to 1.5 parts of water with a little salt in a pot. Bring it to a boil and then let the lentils simmer for about 12-15 minutes.
- Season with salt, when the lentils are cooked. Alternatively you can cook them in broth for some extra flavour.
- Meanwhile cut the spring onions and bell pepper. Also grate the garlic.
- Get a big bowl and mix in all the ingredients, including the lentils and beans.
- Add the tomato sauce (as much as you like), give it a stir and, if necessary, season one last time with salt and pepper.
- You can eat either hot or cold, Enjoy!