Help for thinning hair

HAIR in women is on the increase according to anecdotal evidence. Typically we lose 70 to 80 hairs a day but anything above that may raise the alarm. In recent years trichologists such as David Salinger, of the the International Association of Trichologists, have seen significantly more young women suffering from severe hair loss. This is presenting as thinning hair at the front and the top of the scalp. We also have a burgeoning Baby Boomer population in Australia and it's a sad fact that thinning hair is a natural part of ageing. While thinning hair can be caused by genetic factors, or by some diseases, as well as age, a common cause of hair loss can be hair abuse and nutritional deficiencies. The growing popularity of hair straighteners may be a factor, for example. Overprocessing with colouring, straightening or other chemical techniques; too much blowdrying; or washing and styling hair with the wrong products can all distress hair follicles. Leading international nutritionist Patrick Holford, author of the Optimum Nutrition Bible, believes many different hair problems, from dry or oily hair to premature hair loss, are linked to what you eat. For healthy hair, you need to eat plenty of B vitamins, including wholegrains, all seeds, nuts, dairy products, eggs, wheatgerm, lentils, beans and peas, soybeans and leafy green vegetables. Dry or brittle hair is often a sign of essential fat deficiency: make sure you include foods such as avocado, olives, or oily fish in your diet. "Poor hair growth, or loss of colour, is a sign of zinc deficiency," says Holford and, on this, both medical and natural health experts agree. Regular consumption of alcohol can lead to a lack of zinc in the body, so if you enjoy a drink, take a multivitamin and multimineral with 15 mg of zinc daily. And make sure to get plenty of zinc-rich foods in your diet - oysters are brilliant but you'll find zinc in red meat as well as sesame and pumpkin seeds and oats. Try to reduce stress, too, suggests Salinger as this can often lead to hair loss. For thick, healthy hair that is strong and shiny, Holford also suggests massaging the scalp to stimulate growth as does Byron Bay GP and acupuncturist Adam Osborne. He suggests a good quality argan oil and at least five minutes a day devoted to scalp massage. Dr Osborne says Traditional Chinese Medicine can also be used to address systemic conditions that may result in loss of hair thickness. Hanging upside can also to improve circulation (try inverted yoga poses, such as headstands or simply lying with your legs resting up against a wall). To treat the symptoms of thinning hair, there's always product of course. Many brands now offer volumising shampoos, conditioners and mousses that will give the appearance of a thicker mane. Some specialist products to look out for include TIGI's Bed Head Cocky Thickening Paste, $25.95, that adds strength, elasticity and thickness; John Frieda's Luxurious Volume Thickening Conditioner, $15.95, that instantly boosts volume and Aveda's Invati Scalp Revitalizer, $89.95, that helps energise and rehabilitate the scalp around the hair follicles when massaged in. As far as over-the-counter treatments for serious hair loss are concerned, Salinger says Minoxidil 5% is the only topical non-prescription product that "can sometimes be of benefit to genetic thinning in men and women".  

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