Zinc for Hair Loss: Deficiency, Dosage, Shampoo & Supplements
Zinc is a trace mineral that gets a considerable attention when it comes to hair loss, growth and regrowth. Read on to learn how zinc is linked to hair loss, deficiency causes and symptoms, dosage, supplements, shampoo and best food sources
Zinc and Hair Loss-Is Zinc good for Hair Growth?
How does zinc and Loss, Growth /Thinning relate? Studies
There have been endless discussions about the deficiency of zinc and hair growth since the 1990s. Zinc deficiency has been seen as a disturbing factor for the hair growth. However much still, there has been contradictory researches and studies on this subject. It has previously been reported that zinc deficiency has a correlation with alopecia areata (AA) and telogen effluvium (TE) but there has been no study that points out the link between zinc and androgenic alopecia thus far
The investigations conducted on the elemental composition and hair color according to the Forensic Science project Volume 2, show that zinc content was lower in blond hair than in dark hair (Elten et al). With respect to elemental content of hair, Dorea and Pereira showed that hairs are divided into four color ranges based on melanin content and they showed no significant differences for contents of zinc and copper but a higher amount for zinc and Copper in black hair than in other color groups. Valkovic et al has also been able to show that hair graying is associated with a decreasing strontium content if there was a constant zinc content along the hair shaft.
According Ot Abbasi et al (1976), pubic hair growth faced some delay in an attempt to examine the relationship between zinc deficiency and hypogonadism in 32 adult male patients with sickle cell anemia. Zinc is a trace element in the human body yet it is essential for a lot of biochemical processes. Some of the essential processes dependent on Zinc include cell reproduction, production and maintenance of hormone levels, protein synthesis and absorption of vitamins and other minerals. When the body level of zinc is not enough to meet the body’s metabolic needs, a state of zinc deficiency is diagnosed.
How does the deficiency come about?
Zinc deficiency which is known hypozincemia is a nutrient deficiency brought about by malnutrition or malabsorption of the element. It can also be caused by some types of disease states such as renal disease, chronic liver disease, diarrhea, sickle cell anemia, diabetes, cancer and even after having surgery to treat obesity. It is very essential to note that deficiencies of Vitamin A and D are the key causes of zinc deficiency.
The most evident sign of zinc deficiency is hair loss. As you will learn shortly, many other varied signs and symptoms include diarrhea, skin lesions, psoriasis and muscle wasting. These are also implicated in the development of acne.
If the condition is not arrested early enough and allowed to persist and without treatment, zinc deficiency could lead to anorexia and other appetite related disorders, weight loss, baldness, impairment of motor skills and cognitive functions in children, pneumonia, dysmenorrhea, and distressed gestation in pregnant women.
Who Experiences Zinc Deficiency?
People who are likely to experience zinc deficiency are the elderly, anorexics, alcoholics, those on restricted diets and those with diseases such as Crohn’s and celiac which causes general malabsorption.
Can too Much Zinc Cause Hair Loss?
Just as zinc deficiency can cause hair loss, so can excess zinc. Increased levels of zinc in the body not only disrupts the absorption of other essential minerals such as magnesium and iron, it also promotes the production of testosterone.
The level of testosterone in the body has an effect on hair loss. High testosterone levels coupled with other hormonal imbalances lead to hair thinning and eventually hair loss. On the other hand, iron deficiency is an identified cause of hair loss. Therefore, just as zinc deficiency causes loss of hair through multiple paths so does excess zinc in the body. In one way or another, this is good news since it clearly implies that zinc is very important to the growth of hair follicles.
Repeated high doses of zinc have been reported to inhibit both the anagen and catagen stages of hair growth. To achieve the best balance of zinc it is very important that:
Zinc and Hair Regrowth-Hair Loss Reversal
As you have already learnt, zinc plays a role in your hair development. It can help regrow your or simply reverse hair loss.
There was a theory that was established regarding to zinc deficiency and how it leads to changes in the protein structure of hair follicles leading to weakening of their structural integrity. This means new hairs will fall off quicker than they should. The importance of zinc to hair regrowth has been confirmed by studies done on in lab rats.
In addition to that, there are recorded cases of people whose hair changed back from dull, aging gray to their original colors when placed on diets rich in zinc.
Another research study points out the importance of zinc to hair regrowth on the mineral’s crucial role in DNA and RNA production. This is a requirement for the efficient division of follicle cells leading to an improved anagen stage of the hair growth cycle.
Furthermore, the effectiveness of zinc in reversing hair loss due to negative enzymatic reactions has been demonstrated in topical application of the mineral.
Benefits -how does it help in keeping healthy Hair?
Zinc forms part and parcel of many metabolic pathways of the body. It is involved in protein and nucleic acid synthesis since it plays a role in various metabolic pathways and cellular functions.
On the other hand copper is involved in tyrosinase and lysyl oxidase, playing a part in melanin synthesis and collagen cross-liking. More specifically, transient zinc deficiency is a major pathogenesis in acrodermatitis enteropathica, resulting in hair loss. Since it is a cofactor of metalloenzyme, zinc is involved in almost every metabolism occurring in the body, and affects hair growth.
It also plays an important functional role in hair follicle cycling. Balanced diet alone would be enough to cure an underlying condition of thinning hair if you feel that you are suffering from zinc deficiency. It is believed that zinc deficiency acts as a crucial contributor in DNA and RNA production. This is needed for normal division of hair follicle cells and therefore leads to healthier hair growth.
What are the Symptoms & Causes of Zinc Deficiency?
Zinc deficiency, and deficiencies of other healthy hair nutrients, may be associated with low-calorie diets and crash dieting. The major precipitating factors include:
- Premature and low birth weight of infants
- Older breast fed infants and toddlers with inadequate intake of zinc rich complementary foods
- Children and adolescents
- Pregnant and lactating (breast feeding women) mostly adolescents.
- Patients who are under total parenteral nutrition ( intravenous feeding)
- Individuals who are malnourished like those with protein energy malnutrition and anorexia nervosa
- Individuals with severe or persistent diarrhea
- Individuals having malabsorption syndromes that include celiac disease and short bowel syndrome
- Individuals with inflammatory bowel disease like the ulcerative colitis and the Crohn’s disease
- Candidates of sickle cell anemia
- Individuals with chronic renal disease
- Alcoholics and those with alcoholic liver disease and who have increased urinary zinc excretion and low zinc levels
- Persons under medications that lead to reduced zinc absorption, increase zinc excretion and impair zinc utilization
- Those who are advanced in age – 65 years and older
- Strict vegetarians. For these individuals, the dietary requirement of zinc might be as much as 50% greater. This is because those who are strict vegetarians, their diet is mostly grains and legumes. The high levels of phytic acid in these foods reduce the absorption of zinc.
The signs and symptoms include:
Poor Neurological Function
Absolutely essential for growth and neuropsychologic performance, low zinc levels have been linked to the attention and motor disorders in infants that persist as far as into adulthood. A study carried out by the Chinese and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered that a zinc supplement providing just 50% of the recommended daily allowance improved attention. Note however that you should not pump so much zinc to kids as yet. The research also discovered that zinc is best absorbed with a proper balance of other nutrients, as found in whole foods. It is therefore important that you contact your natural health care physician for some much needed guidance as soon as you suspect a zinc deficiency.
Zinc is also absolutely crucial to maintain immune function. Specifically, it is vital for:
- T-cell growth and differentiation into the white blood cells that we need to ward off disease.
- Apoptosis (“programmed cell death”) to kill dangerous bacteria, virus and cancer cells.
- Gene transcription, the first step of gene expression.
- Protective functions of our cell membranes.
Zinc also forms part of key structural component for a slew of hormone receptors and proteins that contribute to healthy, balance mood and immune function.
Most likely due to the impaired immunity that is caused by zinc deficiency, persistent and uncontrolled diarrhea is a major public health concern. This condition affects 2 million children in developing countries every year. These children become more susceptible to E. coli and other bacterial infections. Zinc supplementation, however, has only been found effective at treating babies older than 6 months. Therefore before administering zinc to your infant, first of all contact your pediatrician.
Allergies to Food & Environment
Chronic stress causes adrenal fatigue and is likely to lead to calcium, magnesium and zinc deficiency. These effects contribute to elevated histamine levels. Zinc is a key factor in how your body stores histamine.
In that case, since it is required to store histamine, zinc deficiency allows more histamine to be released into the surrounding tissue fluids. This is important for two reasons:
- Excess histamine in your body will produce many of the common symptoms associated with allergies (running nose, sneezing, hives and so on).
- High histamine levels increase one’s sensitivity to all allergic reactions.
This is a common occurrence in people who struggle with adrenal fatigue. Zinc deficiency is associated with hypothyroidism. This is an overlooked cause of thinning hair and alopecia. According to Indian researchers, thyroid hormones are essential for zinc absorption. Subsequently, hypothyroidism-caused hair loss may not improve with thyroxine unless zinc supplements are added.
This condition was first described around 70 years ago. The gut-skin connection describes how leaky gut which is the intestinal permeability could cause a slew of health conditions that include: nutrient malabsorption, skin disorders, allergies, auto-immune disease, and thyroid problems. Zinc supplementation has been shown and proven beyond doubt that it can resolve and improve permeability alterations. It tightens the leaky gut especially in Cohn’s disease.
Acne or rashes
You are likely to develop various skin issues as well as skin rashes or even acne when body zinc content is not sufficient. This goes hand in hand with the leaky gut.
Zinc Supplements for Hair Growth & Dosage
Although severe zinc deficiency is quite rare, the Linus Pauling Institute estimates that up to 2 billion people are affected by marginal zinc levels, which can affect virtually every aspect of your health.
Dosage for Adults and Kids
The dosage that is recommended for zinc supplements daily is
- 5 – 10 mg below 3 years,
- 10 mg for children 4 – 6 years
- 10 mg for 7 – 10 years.
For adult and adolescent males, 15 mg while for females 12 mg, pregnant females 15 mg and lactating females 16 – 19 mgs. Some common brands include:
- Orazinc 110
- Orazinc 220
- Zn Plus Protein
- Zinc Glycinate
- Zinc picolinate
Note: Seek medical advice from an authorized healthcare practitioner before taking any supplement.
Zinc Shampoo for Hair Loss Reversal
What are the available zinc shampoo brands to treat hair loss?
- Denorex – contains zinc pyrithione
- Selsun Blue Salon – contains 1% of zinc pyrithione
- Revivogen – Contains aloe vera, menthol, saw palmetto extract, silicone, panthenol, niacin, zinc, soy protein, jojoba oil and linolenic acid
Top Foods with Zinc for Hair Growth & Health
There are many foods that are rich in zinc. Here are some with the amount of zinc in 100g of the food.
- Seafoood – 6mg
- Wheat Germ (Toasted) –7mg
- Spinach – 8mg
- Nuts (Cashews) –6mg
- Pork & Chicken (Cooked Lean Pork Shoulder) – 0mg
- Beans – 5mg
- Beef and Lamb – 3mg
- Pumpkin and Squash Seeds – 3mg
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 Cheshire H, Stather P, Vorster J; Acquired acrodermatitis enteropathica due to zinc deficiency in a patient with pre-existing Darier’s disease. J Dermatol Case Rep. 2009 Nov 28; 3(3):41-3.
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