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thinning hair in young female

Possible causes of thinning hair:

Heredity is the most common cause for hair loss in people of both genders, usually with a receding hairline for men and overall thinning for women. But if your hair starts to fall out at an alarming rate and it doesn’t correspond to a family pattern, most functional-medicine providers will check your protein levels.

“Protein is emphasized pretty heavily in a Western diet, but some people exist on carbohydrates all day long,” says Bischoff.

Protein absorption is also key, she adds, noting that 40 percent of people over 60 do not have enough hydrochloric acid (HCl) in their stomachs to properly digest protein. She also points out that the millions of people who are on proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), a class of drugs used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), will have trouble digesting protein because PPIs decrease gastric-acid production. (For more on this, see “Digestive Enzymes”.)

Thinning hair can also be associated with thyroid dysfunction and hormonal imbalance, say Bischoff and Stone, as well as deficiencies in vitamins and minerals such as zinc.

What you can do about thinning hair:

The preferred marker for protein status is the amount of prealbumin protein in your blood, which can be measured easily by a doctor, says Bischoff. Meanwhile, if you know your diet relies heavily on carbohydrates, work to incorporate protein at every meal. If you’re concerned about absorption, take a tablespoon of raw apple-cider vinegar about 20 minutes before meals; it can temporarily elevate stomach acid. HCl supplements are another option; they’re available at most natural grocery stores.

To support thyroid health, Bischoff suggests having your levels of iodine, vitamin A, and selenium checked by a doctor.

Again, both Bischoff and Stone stress that any symptom must be read in context. For example, says Stone, if you have thinning hair along with an unhealthy waist-to-hip ratio and skin tags on the neck and armpits, it might signal insulin resistance.

And if you have acne along with cracks in the corners of your mouth, thinning hair might be associated with low levels of zinc, one of the most common minerals associated with hair loss and thinning.

These are all fairly serious health issues, so if you notice significant hair loss, it’s a good idea to visit your healthcare provider for an assessment.

This was excerpted from “What Your Body Is Trying to Tell You, Part 2” which was published in the April 2016 issue of Experience Life.

Anjula Razdan

Anjula Razdan is Experience Life‘s digital director.

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