Exactly What To Eat To Prevent Hormone-Related Hair Loss
Hair loss in women is a woefully under-discussed issue, especially given how common it is—according to the American Academy of Dermatology, up to 40% of women experience visible hair loss by age 40.
"Hormonal hair loss is caused by hormone shifts that can frequently occur at menopause, perimenopause, pregnancy, or just high stress or trauma," says Taz Bhatia, M.D., mbg Collective member and author of Super Woman Rx. The good news? While it's a complicated issue, it's definitely a solvable one—if you know what to do.
What causes hair loss in women?
"There tend to be four main causes of hair loss in women: hormonal, micronutrient deficiencies, autoimmunity, and environmental," explains Magdalena Wszelaki, endocrine expert and author of Cooking for Hormone Balance. "The hormonal causes include thyroid imbalance, high testosterone, DHT, PCOS, insulin resistance, estrogen dominance, high cortisol. Micronutrient deficiencies include vitamin B12, biotin (also known as vitamin B7), iron, zinc, silica, and EFAs (essential fatty acids)."
Beyond testosterone, other hormones can come into play in a major way. "Low thyroid hormone is a major reason for hair thinning and breaking," she says. "Stress can cause high cortisol, which can cause us to lose hair. Something called telogen effluvium, another form of hair loss due to stress, commonly occurs in women three to five months after a baby is born."
Sheer aging can also be the culprit. "As estrogen declines with menopause, it's also common to experience thinning hair," says Romm.
All of the experts stress that finding out your particular root cause is crucial for treating your individual hair loss. "Will vitamin B12 and/or eating livers (or supplementing) help? If B12 is the cause, then yes," explains Wszelaki. "If thyroid is the issue, then addressing the thyroid issue will bring back hair growth."
Gottfried recommends a full blood panel that includes fasting glucose, insulin, hemoglobin A1C, iron studies, especially ferritin, which she says, "needs to be greater than 40 to stabilize hair loss and greater than 70 for new hair growth."
Once you get your blood panels back, you can begin problem-solving individual solutions to help diminish further losses and encourage new growth.
Foods that help with hair loss and new hair growth.
If you're unable to do a blood panel or simply want to get started now, don't worry—there are a number of dietary changes that can make a big difference, with little in the way of negative side effects. Bhatia recommends making sure your diet is rich in food that falls into three categories: healthy fats, healthy proteins, and foods that balance what's called chi in traditional Chinese medicine. For fats, she recommends ghee, coconut oil, nut butters, and avocado—add them to your daily smoothie, cook with them, or make an avocado chocolate mousse for dessert.
In the healthy protein category, Bhatia recommends lean meats, beans, and lentils. To balance chi, Bhatia (who utilizes both Eastern and Western medicine in her functional practice) suggests bone broth, yams or sweet potatoes, and liver or organ meats.
Romm also recommends trying out a gluten-free diet. "Gluten can be a hidden cause of hormone imbalances and Hashimoto's," she explains, "so try going gluten-free for three months and see if this helps." Beyond that, Romm suggests ensuring that you're getting ample omega-3s ("ideally from fish or fish oils, or an algae supplement if you're a vegan") and taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement with biotin, iron, and other nutrients you might be missing. If stress is an issue, she also advises considering a B-complex, magnesium, and adaptogen blend.
The bottom line?
"Any hair loss is super stressful for women; finding the root causes can point you in the right direction for halting hair loss," says Romm. "With each of these causes, there are strategies you can use to promote hormone balance and have healthy hair!"
Liz Moody is the host of the top-rated The Liz Moody Podcast, author of bestselling books Healthier Together: Recipes for Two—Nourish Your Body, Nourish Your Relationships and Glow Pops, and a popular online content creator who has helped millions of people transform their lives.
Her new book, 100 Ways to Change Your Life: The Science of Leveling Up Health, Happiness, Relationships & Success draws from Moody’s more than a decade of experience in the health and wellness world, serving as a new kind of personal development book—one that empowers readers to craft their unique, best life based on the habits they want to form, the problems they want to solve, and the parts of their life they want to take to the next level.
A longtime journalist for publications including Vogue, Marie Claire, and goop, an online creator with a social media following of more than 1 Million, and the founder of Healthy Convo Co, a conversation game company designed to facilitate fun and life-changing conversations, Liz previously served as food director for mindbodygreen, where she led content strategy for the food section. A regular speaker, panelist, and podcast guest, Liz shares her own deeply personal anxiety journey that led her to where she is now as well as actionable, fun, and science-based ways for everyone to live their best lives.