How to treat alopecia

The essentials

As a general rule inhibitors of high levels of DHT which is a form of testosterone constitutes good nutrition as far as any type of alopecia is concerned. Inhibitors are amino acids, essential fatty acids such as omega-3, commonly found in oily fish, sulphur, iron, lecithin, B vitamins, lutein, and minerals.

Foods which contain these nutrients are beans and legumes, all whole grains, such as barley and barley flakes, raw unprocessed nuts, pumpkin and flax seeds, dark green vegetables such as curly kale, broccoli, Savoy cabbages etc, Salmon, tuna mackerel, and all berries.

As this list illustrates that the general diet for hair health and the prevention of alopecia areata is no different from the recommendations of a healthy diet.

what is alopecia

There are nutritional supplements that you can take to assist but they are a nutritional supplement, not a replacement. There is no replacement for plenty of fruit and greens and raw seeds and nuts in a diet.

A multivitamin which contains biotin will strengthen your hair, skin and nails. However if you have eaten a diet poor in nutrients and protein for a while then there will be no immediately obvious improvement after you change your diet, it will take at a few months before a noticeable improvement occurs.

Nutrition is a three way ongoing process. First food and drinks has to be ingested into the body, and then it has to be broken down into nutrients that the body can use.

Thirdly these nutrients are then sent as fuel for all the bodily processes. The correct key nutrients have to be there all the time for the body to use. Fad diets, crash diets and eating disorders, all ultimately mean poor nutrition. 

Iron

There is another link between healthy hair and nutrition which is not as easy to solve. L'Oreal the hair product company carried out a double blind study on thirteen thousand apparently healthy men and women.

Half of the study was given an iron supplement and half were given a placebo, which is a tablet containing nothing medical, but which they believed would help them. The resulting ferretin levels were checked against hair health and hair loss.

The results showed a clear delineation of ferritin levels and the point at which hair loss occurred. All the post menstrual women who were experiencing severe levels of natural hair loss patterns also had extremely low levels of iron.

Normal women should have iron levels at about 70µg/l those that levels had dropped to less than 40µg/l, had a nearly thirty percent higher chance of severe hair loss. Unfortunately, too much iron in the body can be toxic and none should take iron supplements without prior consultation with a doctor.

Vitamin deficiencies can be a catalyst to alopecia areata

Researchers, doctors, and scientists have spent many years and countless millions of dollars researching autoimmune disorders. It is thought that all autoimmune diseases like alopecia areata share similar catalysts and, though researchers have made important progress in many areas, the fundamental causal factors of such autoimmune disorders remain undetermined.

Though some factors have been identified, the impact of ‘lifestyle’ type variables, such as vitamin deficiency, is almost impossible to study with any accuracy.

Still, much work has been done on the subject and important conclusions can be drawn from the work of many individuals. Though these assumptions may not be backed up by clear statistical truths, it is generally accepted that such weight of evidence is not necessary for establishing links in cases such as vitamin deficiency, where the 'common sense' approach suggests there will be a link.

Alopecia areata, along with all autoimmune disorder, is less reliant on nutritional health than nearly all other disease, yet it still must play a factor.

Typically autoimmune disorders are more likely to occur in people who are genetically predisposed to them. A few genetic markers which signal a heightened risk of developing various autoimmune diseases have been identified, but are yet to be successfully treated with any form of gene therapy.

Autoimmune disorders such as alopecia areata are also more likely to show up in people who have suffered severe physical or emotional trauma or stress. More so, a certain single vitamin has been identified to play an important role in controlling autoimmune reactions within the body.

This is perhaps more relevant to our vitamin deficiency argument, as direct correlation has been found between alopecia areata and this missing vitamin.

Still, stress and general vitamin deficiency actually share many factors, indeed vitamin deficiency can be a direct result of stress as the bodies digestive system reduces in efficacy.

So while alopecia areata may not be directly linked to vitamin deficiency, stress and overall bodily healthy may play an important part in maintaining immune system integrity and avoiding the unidentified triggers of Alopecia areata.

Vitamin D and its possible link to alopecia areata

On a more direct level, vitamin D is closely tied to the health of bones, hair, and any calcium demanding bodily tissue. This is because the body converts vitamin D into Calcitriol, a biological response-modifying steroid hormone which is essential in the bodily absorption of calcium and phosphorus.

These important nutrients are essential in the production of hair, and the health of hair follicles – the importance of maintaining such health may play an important role in reducing the impact of alopecia areata.

More importantly still, certain studies have found that vitamin D also appears to play an important part in regulating autoimmune responses.

Collectively known as a T-Helper 1 cytokine-mediated inflammatory disorder, the symptoms & prognosis of alopecia areata might be significantly improved with Vitamin D supplementation.

Certain tests have shown that physiological doses of Vitamin D can alter gene response, reducing white blood cell cytokine/chemokine levels & activity, which positively impacts alopecia areata symptoms.

It is generally accepted that the body uses around 100 micro grams of vitamin D per day. Vitamin D is most readily and safely absorbed though the skin, which is capable of modulating the intake to remove the risk of Vitamin D poisoning.

Just 20 minutes of direct sunlight a day on the face and arms provides more than enough vitamin D to ensure the body is not running short and alopecia areata symptoms are positively impacted, it also provides important reserves to be used when sunshine is not available. Alternatively, vitamin D supplementation is an option, but rarely advised.

Conclusion

Some physicians have drawn parallels between alopecia areata and male/female pattern baldness, when it comes to nutrition. Although the hypotheses that poor nutrition can cause alopecia areata, has never been concretely proven, the old saying that “you are what you eat” has always proven to be a valuable piece of medical advice.