Healthy looking hair is, in general, a sign of good health and good hair-care practices. Most healthy individuals have adequate nutrients in their diet; however some people do not have access to good nutrition, others have medical illnesses that predispose them to nutritional deficiency which influence scalp / body hair.
Nutrition is a complex subject - the effects of correct nutrition are indirect and often slow to appear. Hair, in particular, is slow to respond to any stimuli. Trials have indicated that correct nutrition is instrumental in healthy hair growth, and conversely many deficiencies correlate with hair loss. Hair nutrition is, therefore, a vital part of any treatment regime. A truly systematic and rigorous approach must be taken before formulating a nutritional supplement for hair as there are many factors which affect the eventual efficacy of the treatment.
Malnutrition, congenital heart disease, neuromuscular disease, chronic illnesses, malignancy, alcoholism, and advanced age can cause the hair to change colour, be weakened, or lost.
Genetics and health are factors in hair wellbeing. Proper nutrition is also important. The living part of the hair is under the scalp skin where its root is housed within its follicle. It derives its nutrients from blood. Health concerns e.g. stress, trauma, medications, medical conditions, heavy metals, smoking and many other factors can affect the hair.
It is important to mention that many of the metabolic requirements of follicle cells (minerals and vitamins) must be satisfied for optimal hair growth (not always derived from fast foods and punishing work schedules).
Nutritionists confirm that people with certain nutritional deficiencies tend to have dry, stringy and dull hair, and at times experience hair loss. Fortunately, the latter can be restored once the deficiency is addressed.
Diets should contain protein, fruits, vegetables, grains, and an appropriate amount of fat. Deficiency will typically show in the hair. A mild case of anaemia can cause shedding of hair. B group vitamins are significantly important for healthy hair, especially biotin.
When the body is under threat it reprioritizes its processes - the vital organs will be attended first - hair follicles may not be considered a priority. While not all hair growth issues originate from malnutrition, it is a valuable symptom in diagnosis.