Ah, aging. On one hand, you are a lot wiser and many times a generally happier person who realizes the tenuousness and preciousness of life. On the other hand, you have to deal with a lot of inconvenient truths when it comes to overall health, well-being and yes – vanity.
This is the first post in a series of posts about how we can combat both age-related and non age-related hair thinning. This one will focus on iodine, thyroid function and how it relates to the prevention of age-related hair loss. Thinning is a common problem for a lot of people, probably more common than most think. That's why we decided to split this up into several different posts in a series dedicated to this psychologically impactful issue.
Thinning Hair as it Relates to Aging
You don’t have to be a woman or a man to deal with thinning hair as you age. Just look at any picture of a woman or a man in their youth, compared to when they are mid-forties and fifties. There is often a noticeable difference in the fullness and thickness of hair as we age. Related: Why Hair Becomes Less Pigmented with Age
There are plenty of reasons for this, but namely it’s a general slowdown in the turnover and growth of the cells that produce hair. It’s a similar phenomenon that happens with our skin. Our cells don’t turnover as quickly and “refresh” as often as they did in our youth. This translates to less fullness, more breakage and hair fragility, and less overall volume.
In addition to this natural slowdown of the engines of hair growth as we age, there are also other issues that come into play. Namely hormonal in nature. Men may have thinning related to the production of androgens that are connected to male pattern baldness. Women can have estrogen fluctuations that are often linked to thinner hair and overall hair loss acceleration. Related: Can Frequent Micro Trims Improve Hair Health?
Supplementation of Key Nutrients Can Be Extremely Beneficial
There are several key nutrients, vitamins and fatty acids that are known for benefiting hair growth and promoting not only full hair with volume, but also healthy-looking hair that is strong. Iodine Yes, it’s mostly known for being an additive in table salt. However, this valuable mineral has numerous implications for human health.
The main factor is thyroid health. Your thyroid actually needs iodine in order to function properly. So do many of your other organs like the pancreas, breast tissue and others. I started to gain interest in iodine for its potentially anti-cancer benefits, but soon learned that it really is needed for thyroid health as well.
Do you know what’s connected to thyroid function? Hair growth! If you have a thyroid issue, many times it manifests in thinning hair as a side effect. Supplementing with iodine, or ensuring you get adequate iodine through your diet by including plenty of fish products like anchovies, fish sauces and other iodine rich seafoods like seaweed, is vital to the health and functionality of your thyroid.
Thyroid health incidentally is also connected to weight management. A sluggish thyroid can mean weight gain and an overactive thyroid can mean a person has a hard time retaining weight.
So Why Could Iodine Be Important for Thinning Hair?
As it relates to boosting thyroid health and function, iodine can be incredibly useful in replenishing thicker, healthier hair growth. Often times people don’t even realize that their thinning hair may be connected to thyroid health issues. This can include and under or over active thyroid gland.
Your thyroid, which is a small gland located at the base of the neck, requires iodine for maximum effectiveness , smooth operation and efficiency. It is essential to your body’s ability to produce thyroid hormones which have a wide range of health effects if there is a deficiency. A small part of the population may be sensitive to over-consumption of iodine, so it’s important to start small if you’re going to try to supplement with iodine if concerned you don’t get enough through diet alone. Related: B Vitamins | Strong Healthy Hair and More
Hair Loss Related to Thyroid Function
Since both hyperthyroid (over active) and hypothyroid (under active) can cause hair loss, iodine supplementation can help mitigate both of these issues. The reason hair loss and thinning can occur with either of these issues is that thyroid function can interfere directly with the growth phases of the hair.
Hair growth naturally takes pauses every several years in certain areas of the scalp. It then kicks back in after this resting phase and rotates out to different areas. Thyroid health issues interfere with this process, and can result in thinning hair that ranges from moderate to severe. As mentioned previously, one can either supplement with liquid or tablet iodine daily or they can consume foods known to be rich in this element.