Have you noticed that your hair is thinner than it was 30 years ago? If so, you’re not alone. In middle age, most people’s hair becomes thinner as the diameter of the individual hair follicles, and the hair they produce, decreases. At the same time, when hair falls out at the end of its life cycle, a higher percentage of follicles remain in their resting phase instead of reviving to generate new hair. Keep reading because we will give you a guide to improve thin hair and even graying hair.
Of the follicles that are reactivated, the hair they produce tends to have a shorter life cycle, making it increasingly difficult to maintain a longer hairstyle.
Therefore, by the time you reach age 60, it is likely that most women will have slimmed hair, with less body and looking better when cut.
How to improve thin, graying hair
A few lucky individuals will retain a head full of long, thick hair, although the hair they wear may not be theirs.
The good news is that various diet and lifestyle changes can help improve hair and make it grow thicker. And, if all else fails, your hairdresser can also offer some options.
Why is thin hair in women a problem?
Each of your hair follicles goes through a cycle of hair growth, during which the hair lengthens, followed by a resting phase, in which the hair follicle shrinks and the bulb moves away from the root. The hair then remains in a constant length until it loosens and falls out.
Because each hair has its own cycle, typically between 80 and 100 scalp hairs are lost per day. If the daily losses are greater than this, a gradual thinning occurs, especially in later life when hair growth also decreases.
After the resting phase, the follicle can be reactivated to produce new hair, but this cycle does not repeat indefinitely. On average, each hair follicle is reactivated about 25 times before it is extinguished, or produces hair that is increasingly subdued and short.
How your hair changes with age depends in part on the genes you’ve inherited. It is also affected by changes in hormone levels at the time of menopause, as well as in your diet and lifestyle.
Why does hair turn gray?
Your hair color is produced by cells at the base of each hair follicle. These cells produce melanin pigments and feed them through the hair root.
The color of the pigment you produce is genetically determined. Red melanin makes your natural hair color golden, reddish, or red. Black produces brown or black hair. The pale, which is concentrated in the fluffy core of the hair shaft, rather than the outer bark, makes your natural color more mellow or blonde.
Hair turns gray due to an age-related decrease in the activity of an enzyme called tyrosinase. This enzyme produces melanin from an amino acid called tyrosine.
The age at which your hair loses color is genetically determined and some lucky people can retain their hair tone for a lifetime.
If your hair is gray, then there is still some pigment present in the hair. If your hair is completely devoid of pigment, it becomes transparent and reflects light so that it appears snow-white.
Can hair turn gray during the night?
Stress can cause the life cycles of different hair follicles to synchronize and enter their detachment phase (telogen) together. This results in hundreds of more pigmented and older hairs falling out at the same time, to produce a fast and noticeable thinning.
What remains are the thinner and less pigmented hairs in the early stages of their current life cycle, which suddenly become more noticeable.
This phenomenon, known as telogen effluvium, can make someone look noticeably grayer in a short period of time — the source of stories about someone who is turning gray from the shock overnight.
Is the lack of vitamins and minerals the reason for graying hair?
Although hair is not a living structure, the follicles that produce it contain some of the most active cells in your body. However, as hair is not an essential structure, the nutrients that are scarce are diverted from the follicles in times of deficiency.
This happens when the blood capillaries that supply your follicles contract, reducing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your hair. This is especially common in times of emotional and physical shock. The poor blood supply also contributes to thinning hair that is dull, dull and stretched.
- A lack of vitamin C can cause hair to be deformed, tangled, and brittle, while a lack of vitamin E, or essential fatty acids, causes hair to dry out and lose shine.
- Brittle hair and patchy hair loss can be a sign of iron deficiency, especially if there are other symptoms of anemia such as paleness, tiredness and fatigue.
- Patched hair loss can also be due to a lack of B vitamins, zinc or vitamin D deficiency, which leads to messy hair cycles.
- If you’ve noticed the loss of the outer third of your eyebrows or thinning your eyelashes, you may have an underactive thyroid gland, which may be associated with iodine deficiency. Premature aging is sometimes associated with a lack of vitamins B5, B12 or a copper deficiency.
Of course, everyone’s body is different; therefore, it makes sense to consult with your doctor if you have any questions about your health.
What about dietary considerations?
Diet should always be the first thing to improve hair, therefore, select whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, which are a good source of vitamins, minerals and fatty acids essential to nourish the roots of your hair.
Dark green leafy meats and vegetables are a good source of iron. However, if your hair is thinning, a multivitamin and mineral supplement is also a good idea to protect against nutrient deficiencies.
Before taking supplements, see your doctor to rule out related problems, such as iron deficiency anemia, nutrient malabsorption, and hormonal imbalances, such as type 2 diabetes and thyroid problems that may require further investigation.
Garlic has beneficial effects on circulation by dilating small blood vessels and increasing blood flow to peripheries, such as the scalp and nail folds by up to 55 percent. The accumulation of platelets decreases significantly after a dose equivalent to half a clove of garlic and lasts three hours. Some of the ingredients in garlic are as potent as aspirin in this regard.
It can also stimulate circulation and increase the flow of nutrients to the hair follicles by regular massage on the scalp with your fingers at least once a day. Focus on areas where your scalp appears tightly attached to the underlying bone, to help improve any constrictions in blood flow.
Protein is important
Hair consists mainly of keratin protein, which is produced using building blocks of amino acids obtained from your diet.
To maintain a steady supply of protein for your follicles, eat something with every meal, whether it’s chicken, lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts, or beans. If you eat a plant-based diet, you may be more likely to lose weight in your hair, as some amino acids essential for healthy hair (such as lysine) and micronutrients (such as vitamin B12 and iron) are often difficult to obtain in sufficient quantities without taking a vegetarian supplement.
Don’t skip meals if you want to improve hair, as this puts your body in survival mode to reduce the supply of protein and nutrients to the hair follicles.
Drink enough water
Water is vital to maintain optimal hydration of hair follicle cells. It also helps the flow of nutrients into and out of the cells of the “inner sea” in which they bathe.
Most guidelines suggest drinking 6 to 8 glasses (250 ml) of liquid (e.g., water, tea, and other sugar-free beverages) per day, in addition to eating water-rich foods such as soups, cucumbers, watermelons, and other fruits and vegetables.
Take a hormone booster to reduce hair loss
Hair loss increases after menopause when estrogen levels drop. This also increases the relative influence of the small amount of testosterone hormone that is produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands.
Testosterone is converted into a stronger hormone (dihydrotestosterone, DHT) in hair follicles, which increases male and female hair loss, which is genetically determined.
If you are willing (and can) takes hormone replacement therapy with estrogen, this will help improve air quality. Again, this is something you can discuss with your doctor.
An alternative approach is to consume more plant estrogens, especially isoflavones and lignans. Although these are between 500 and a thousand times less active than human estrogen, they can provide a useful hormonal boost. Isoflavones are found in edamame beans, tofu, miso and other soy products, sweet potatoes, lentils, nuts and seeds.
Sweet potatoes to improve hair
In addition to having an action similar to estrogen, lignans provide an additional benefit by inhibiting the enzyme (5-alpha reductase), which converts testosterone into the stronger dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in hair follicles. Research shows that increasing lignan intake (found in pumpkin seed oil, flaxseed oil and sweet potato) is associated with a reduced rate of hair loss and hair regeneration.
What about caffeine for hair loss after 60?
If you don’t already use a caffeinated shampoo, consider switching to one. Caffeine applied directly to the scalp has two beneficial effects. Relaxes the smooth muscle fibers that surround the hair to improve blood flow. More importantly, it also inhibits the enzyme, 5-α-reductase, which converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone within the hair follicles of the scalp and which is associated with male and female pattern hair loss.
A growing body of evidence supports the effects of caffeinated shampoos to stimulate hair follicles. Just two minutes of contact with the scalp during shampoo washing allows caffeine to penetrate the hair follicles, where it remains for up to 48 hours after washing.
Long-lasting caffeine solutions (which often include vitamins B3 and B5) are also available and have been shown to increase the area of scalp hair cross-section by 10%.
Drinking caffeinated beverages such as tea or coffee does not have the same effect, as caffeine must penetrate the hair follicles to inhibit 5-α-reductase.
Foods you should avoid if you want to keep your hair healthy after 60
Excess salt is the number one enemy in your hair. Overconsumption has an adverse effect on hair follicles and trichologists have found that reducing salt intake can decrease hair loss by up to 60 percent.
Stay away from sugary treats like donuts, cookies and cakes, which do nothing to nourish hair follicles.
Useful supplements for healthy hair
- A multivitamin and a mineral to protect against deficiencies (which supply 100% to 200% of the recommended daily amounts, depending on your age: select a supplement labeled for over 50s or one adapted for hair, skin and nail support).
- Soy isoflavones (40 mg to 100 mg daily). If you have a medical history of a hormone-dependent condition (such as breast cancer), see your doctor before taking them, although tests indicate that they are also beneficial in these cases.
- A probiotic will supply beneficial digestive bacteria that can help increase the conversion of soy isoflavones to a stronger estrogenic version called equol.
- Flaxseed oil is one of the richest dietary sources of lignans.
- Some nutritionists may recommend l-lysine amino acid supplements.
A healthy lifestyle checklist for hair
- Avoid excess stress
- Stimulate circulation on your scalp with a daily massage with your fingers. It also takes a handful of hair and gently moves the scalp from side to side, and from side to side, to loosen tension and promote blood flow.
- Use a shampoo that contains caffeine from green tea that blocks DHT production and stimulates hair growth. Caffeine also reduces smooth muscle constriction around hair follicles to improve blood flow and nutrient distribution.
- Ask your doctor if you need any tests to evaluate your thyroid function, to measure your serum ferritin levels for iron deficiency, or if there are likely to be other hormonal imbalances.