Causes of hair loss in adults and children and foods to include in the diet necessary to prevent it

Causes of hair loss in adults and children and foods to include in the diet necessary to prevent it

New Delhi: Hair loss can be a harrowing experience that affects both men and women, affecting self-esteem and confidence levels. While some forms of hair loss may be temporary or reversible, others may require long-term treatment. Treatments range from topical and oral medications such as minoxidil and finasteride, to low-level laser therapy, mesotherapy and hair transplant surgeries. To tackle this common condition effectively, it is essential to gain a comprehensive understanding of the causes of hair loss.

Causes of hair loss:

Here are some common causes of hair loss listed by Dr. Nivedita Dadu, dermatologist, founder and president of Dadu Medical Center:

Genetics: Genetics play a significant role in hair loss. Androgenetic alopecia, commonly known as male or female pattern baldness, is the most prevalent type influenced by inherited genes. This results in a gradual thinning of the hair on the scalp, leading to baldness.

Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes can trigger hair loss. Conditions such as pregnancy, menopause, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and thyroid disorders can disrupt hormonal balance, leading to temporary or prolonged hair thinning.

Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions and illnesses contribute to hair loss. Autoimmune diseases like alopecia areata cause the immune system to mistakenly attack the hair follicles, resulting in patchy hair loss. Scalp infections such as ringworm can also cause hair loss. Also, trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder) and telogen effluvium (excessive hair loss) can lead to noticeable hair loss.

Also, certain medications and treatments can cause hair loss as a side effect. Chemotherapy drugs, used to treat cancer, target rapidly dividing cells, including hair follicles, resulting in temporary hair loss. Likewise, medications for conditions like high blood pressure, depression, and arthritis can all contribute to thinning hair.

Stress: Stressful life events, emotional trauma and chronic stress can disrupt the hair growth cycle, leading to hair loss.

Nutrition: Poor nutrition, crash dieting and vitamin deficiencies (especially iron, zinc and biotin) can weaken hair and contribute to hair loss.

Hair styling tools: Excessive use of styling tools such as flat irons and blow dryers, and tight hairstyles such as braids or ponytails can cause traction alopecia, a type of hair loss resulting from tension in the hair.

Age: As we age, hair growth naturally slows down and hair follicles become thinner and regenerate much more slowly. This gradual decrease in hair density is a normal part of the aging process and is more pronounced in men, leading to male pattern baldness.

Reasons for hair loss in children:

Hair loss (Alopecia) is classified as congenital (from birth) and acquired (after birth). Some are associated with scarring and some are not scarred, some children have patchy hair loss, and some have diffuse hair loss associated with many conditions. Hair loss in children is preventable.

Dr. Shareefa Chause, Dermatologist, Apollo Spectra Mumbai, has listed some reasons for hair loss in children:

  • Infections like fungal and bacterial, of which alopecia due to fungal infection is most common.
  • Autoimmune diseases like alopecia areata, which are non-scarring alopecias and the second common cause of hair loss
  • Telogen effluvium, which is diffuse non-scarring alopecia (hair loss) resulting from various causes such as illness, surgery, medications, etc.
  • Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder in which there is a compulsive urge to pull the hair out, followed by a transient sense of relief.

It is important to understand that childhood alopecia is different from alopecia in adults. A dermatologist can treat most causes of alopecia and reverse it.

Food items to include in the diet to decrease the chances of hair loss:

Anupama Menon who is a recommended health and lifestyle coach incorporating the following foods into your daily diet to support hair health and fight hair loss:

Protein Rich Foods:

Protein is an essential nutrient for hair growth as it provides the building blocks for hair follicles. Include lean sources of protein such as eggs, lean meat, poultry, fish, legumes and dairy in your diet. Plant-based options like lentils, chickpeas and quinoa are excellent alternatives for vegetarians and vegans.

Omega-3 fatty acids:

Omega-3 fatty acids nourish hair follicles, reduce inflammation and promote overall scalp health. Incorporate fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines into your diet. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, opt for plant-based sources such as chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts.

Iron Rich Foods:

Iron deficiency is a common cause of hair loss, especially among women. Include iron-rich foods such as lean red meat, poultry, fish, spinach, kale, legumes, and fortified cereals to maintain adequate iron levels. Combining iron-rich foods with sources of vitamin C, such as citrus fruits or bell peppers, can increase iron absorption.

Vitamin C:

Vitamin C helps in the production of collagen, a vital component of hair structure. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruit are excellent sources of vitamin C. Other options include strawberries, kiwis, guavas and bell peppers.


Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, plays a crucial role in hair health and growth. Include biotin-rich foods like eggs, nuts (especially almonds and walnuts), seeds (like sunflower and chia seeds), sweet potatoes, and avocados in your diet. Also, consider incorporating biotin supplements after consulting with a healthcare professional.


Zinc supports hair tissue growth and repair. Zinc-rich foods include oysters, beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils and fortified cereals. Make sure you consume adequate zinc to keep your hair healthy.

Vitamin E:

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that promotes healthy blood circulation in the scalp, thereby enhancing hair growth. Include foods like almonds, sunflower seeds, spinach, avocado and vegetable oils (like sunflower oil and olive oil) to increase your vitamin E intake.

While no single food can miraculously prevent hair loss, incorporating a well-balanced diet with these nourishing hair foods can significantly reduce the chances of hair loss and promote healthier hair growth.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: