My young daughters have so much hair that I can barely get it untangled. Funny I remember having so much hair that it was torture having my mom brush it. Now after I brush or wash my hair, I am left with most of my hair in the brush or in the drain. Where did my lush locks go? Where is my fullness and why do most men and women lose hair as we age? I set out to find out why and possibly how to prevent age related hair loss.
What Causes Age Related Hair Loss?
Not only do we have to deal with aging skin, some people lose some hair, some lose a lot. What causes age related hair loss? Hair loss can happen to anyone anytime due to other health issues, but the reason we lose our hair as we age is due to the fact that our hair follicles are not as productive as they were in our younger days.
This is a natural occurrence that happens with aging. Genetics plays a huge role in age related hair loss in both men and women. We often see men having to deal with male pattern baldness, which is losing hair on the top and sides of their heads, women lose hair differently and their hair often becomes thinner.
25% of men start to lose hair as young as their 30s, and about half in their 50s, as women age their numbers are about the same as men as far as thinning goes. What causes genetic hair loss when we age? The research shows that the condition is triggered by a production of enzyme 5-alpha reductase, which is an enzyme responsible for transforming the male hormone testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a much powerful derivative.
These high levels of DHT cause hair follicles to shrink, as well as the new hair growing from them. This process may continue until the hairs are less visible where you can barely see them. Many men who start with male pattern baldness, end up completely bald due to the total amount of hair follicles dying off.
Prevention For Age Related Hair Loss
Here first I want to talk about how to prevent age related hair loss, in the next section I will go into some treatments. Its so important to start prevention of age related issues, whether it is aging skin or hair loss when we are younger. If we take care of our bodies when we are younger, it will definitely help/prevent future problems.
Our hair is made up of protein molecules and amino acids determine the specific properties of those molecules. Just about all the amino acids our bodies get come from our diets. As we get older, our digestive system slows down therefore making it less efficient at absorbing nutrients.
What happens is thinning and hair loss. The reason our hair thins is the reduction in diameter of the hair strand, making it appear less full. Just about any sign of aging can be slowed down from having a healthy diet and lifestyle. Our hair follicles also begin to slow down or just not work anymore. Here are some ways to prevent age related hair loss:
- Get enough protein – We need enough protein in our diets to form the essential amino acids for our hair and overall health. You can get the right proteins by eating a healthy diet of nuts, lean meat, eggs, fish, and dairy products. Our hair requires two specific amino acids called methionine, and cysteine. You can get enough methionine from fish, lean meats, and eggs. Cysteine plays a direct role in the health of hair follicles and you can find this is the same proteins listed above but also onions, broccoli, brussels sprouts and red peppers.
- Cysteine & Methionine supplements – As we age it gets a bit more difficult for our bodies to make these two amino acids from nature, so taking a supplement may be a good start to preventing age related differences in or hair. According to NYU, you need to limit your supplement of methionine to between 800 and 1,000 mg daily. Additionally, you may want to include vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folic acid to offset the increase of homocysteine ( byproduct of methionine when its metabolized) which can increase the risk of heart issues. Always speak to a doctor before taking any kind of supplements. As far as cysteine, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends 500mg daily as well as taking the B vitamins to offset homocysteine production.
- Multivitamin – I take a supplement with biotin along with a good multivitamin. A good multivitamin should include A, B-complex, vitamins C & E, to round out the vitamin requirements for healthy hair. Just taking supplements without eating a healthy diet or lifestyle is not going to work so make sure you’re eating right.
- Healthy fats – Our bodies need healthy fats in order to stay healthy. Not all fats are bad. Hair follicle cells have one of the highest turnover rates so we need to be on top of our diets for lush hair. Nuts such as almonds or walnuts contain essential Omega-3 and 6 and since our bodies can’t make these fats on its own, we have to get it from our diets. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines also contain these essential nutrients.
- Shampoo & Conditioner Type – Another way to prevent hair loss is by not brushing your hair too hard or too much, if you see a lot of hair in the brush or on the counter, you’re brushing too hard. Using a good conditioner and shampoo for hair strength, such as organic products ( I personally use Be Care Love Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner) are easier on your hair and follicles.
How To Treat Age Related Hair Loss
Men and women have a bit of a different body chemistry. Here I want to go over the best treatments for hair loss for both men and women:
Men: These are medications that can treat hair loss in men
- Finasteride – Finasteride can be used to treat male pattern baldness, which appears at the sides and top of the head. The original use for this medication was used to treat prostate cancer but they found that it decreases that hormone I spoke of above, DHT. By reducing the levels of DHT hair loss may slow down and increase hair growth. This medication comes with warnings, not to be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women, only to be used on adult men and keep away from children. Definitely speak to your doctor before starting any type of new medication.
- Minoxidil – This medication was originally used to treat high blood pressure. They found that it had a side effect of hair growth which researchers later developed it for male baldness. The exact way this happens is not entirely known but it appears to widen the hair shaft and cause thicker hair to grow. It also prolongs the growth period of hair for longer thicker hair. When used correctly it has been shown to be safe and effective.
- Surgery – The only surgery for mens hair loss at the moment is a hair transplant. When you get a hair transplant they move hair follicles from the back of the head and place them in the front. Those hair follicles from the back are resistant to the hormone DHT.
- Laser Combs – These combs claim to reduce hair loss and start regrowth by using a laser to stimulate the hair follicles. When combined with other treatments, this may help some but it has mixed reviews so it may not work for everyone.
Women: Some medications and techniques to treat hair loss for women.
- Minoxidil – The same medication for hair loss in men, the FDA approved this for women as well. This is said to regrow hair in about 80% of women who use it. It takes time so be patient, you should start to see results in about 4 months.
- Laser Comb – The HairMax laser comb uses a red light to stimulate hair growth. Although its only been approved for men, some women are using it. Like stated above it has mixed reviews with 45% of users stating they had hair regrowth in about 8 weeks and 90% in six weeks, so make sure to do more research on it before trying it out.
- Hormones – In some cases the male hormone androgen may be causing hair loss in women. If your hair loss looks like male pattern baldness, such as the top and sides of your head, getting your hormones checked and the doctor could prescribe a medication called spironolactone, or oral contraceptives, make sure to speak to your health professional before taking any medication.
- Ketoconasole – If hair loss is due to inflammation of the hair follicles, this topical can be found over the counter as a shampoo, such as Nizoral, but stronger formulas have to come from a doctor.
- Surgery – Both men and women can benefit from hair loss by getting a hair transplant if you have tried many treatments to no avail. Speak to a health professional for any referrals to a surgeon who specializes in this.
- Plasma – I found this treatment and after researching it I found it to be pretty helpful. Platelet – Rich blood plasma may reduce hair loss. A doctor will draw your blood, then separate the platelet – rich plasma from the blood and then injects it into the areas of the head that has hair loss. A recent review, (you can find the study here) that this therapy increases hair thickness and reduces hair loss. The studies on this are still small so more research needs to be done, but it has worked on some people so you can check it out and do some more research.
- Scalp massage – getting a scalp massage not only feels good and very relaxing, it may also stimulate the hair follicles and clear away any impurities in your scalp.
Age related hair loss in men and women may be unavoidable in some people who are genetically predisposed to it. There are ways to slow it down if you start when you’re young. A healthy diet will help tremendously and the good thing is technology and studies concerning hair loss in men and women are always evolving. I hope this article helped and as always please comment below with any questions or comments.
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