Hair growth always comes down to the right nutrition. You could be living a very healthy lifestyle, sleeping for good 8 hours and applying the right serums, but if your diet is not balanced or worse if it is unhealthy, you will never see healthy hair growth or even regrowth for that matter. In a well-balanced diet, along with macro-nutrients like carbs and proteins, one also has to be mindful of the right micro-nutrients that are taken in by the body and absorbed. Among the micro-nutrients that are essential for ideal hair growth, zinc to plays a very important role. But what exactly is zinc and can it really regrow hair, is something we have to find out. Read through this blog for more insights on this.
What Is Zinc?
Zinc is that particular micro-nutrient that is included in a number of processes in the body. It is also known as a mineral that the body is in need of but you can’t store it in the body. Zinc is used for human metabolism and catalyzes more than 100 enzymes, it is also involved in protein folding and gene expression. More than anything, zinc plays a key role in immune functioning, wound healing, and the renewal of cells. Apart from this, one of the senses that zinc is surprisingly responsible for is the sense of smell and taste.
Why Zinc For Hair?
Unlike iron which has a direct link to hair or hair fall, the relationship between zinc and hair is a bit complicated. We know that Dihydrotestosterone or DHT is a hormone responsible for hair loss. It is a hormone that is present in the body of both males and females. This hormone when in excess attacks the hair follicles at the root and causes something called miniaturization or shrinking of the follicle by reducing the diameter of the hair strand. This is why the hair appears thinner and thinner with every hair cycle. But how this happens is because of genetic sensitivity.
DHT is ideally converted from the hormone testosterone using an enzyme 5 alpha-reductase. If you don’t understand this, picture this as a chemical reaction. Some studies say that zinc is used to block the enzyme that helps in the conversion of DHT. Some researchers directly mention that this micronutrient zinc in the body acts as an inhibitor to 5 alpha-reductase - a DHT blocker.
Many studies are also linked directly to the effect of zinc on alopecia areata - an autoimmune disorder where hair fall occurs in circular or round patches. And this hair fall does not necessarily happen only on the scalp. This is visible on any random part of the body. In such cases, zinc supplementation was found to promote healthy hair regrowth with the hair loss that occurred from alopecia areata. Some studies have also suggested that zinc could become an adjuvant therapy in those with hair loss from alopecia areata and low zinc levels. While others have also stated that oral zinc sulfate is one of the most effective forms of treatment in those with alopecia areata or the autoimmune disorder.
In another case study that was published, researchers found that a woman with diffuse hair loss, who received treatment also for hypothyroidism saw an improvement in symptoms including hair loss after taking zinc supplements. Despite a lot of findings for zinc in the alopecia areata world, there is no solid proof scientifically that zinc alone showed improvements to regrow hair in people with balding i.e pattern hair loss or genetic hair loss. But on the other hand, hair loss that occurs from nutritional deficiencies of zinc has shown that consuming foods rich in zinc and zinc supplements helped to regrow hair in 72% of men that faced genetic hair loss.
Zinc Deficiency And Hair loss
When there is a low level of zinc in the body, it leads to a zinc deficiency. This could firstly hamper your immune health and even hair growth. The world, approximately 31% of the global population is affected by a deficiency of zinc to some extent as stated by the World Health Organization also known as the WHO. This means that zinc deficiency is kind of a key issue globally speaking. Although the percentage is on the lesser side, people include groups of vegetarians, pregnant or lactating women and mothers who underwent a delivery, also people with an addiction to alcohol, sickle cell anaemic individuals, and those with gastrointestinal or other medical conditions that reduce the nutrient absorption all have a high risk of having a zinc deficiency or even inadequacy.
Hair loss is a potential sign of zinc deficiency but it is also mandatory that the other symptoms of zinc deficiency would need to be present along with it to make a clear-cut call. Symptoms that include a zinc deficiency are loss of appetite, very poor immune health, and delayed growth, these are all from mild to moderate zinc deficiency with very less dramatic effects. For those that have a very high percentage of zinc deficiency, their symptoms include first and foremost, hair loss, disturbances in sexual health, chronic diarrhoea, skin rashes, and sometimes even night blindness. If you think that any of these symptoms are related to you, it’s best to check your levels of zinc in the body. This can be done with a simple blood test. And if you do have a deficiency, it’s best to start a treatment by first consulting your doctor as soon as possible without further delay and the best thing to do is not self diagnose yourself.
Can Zinc Regrow Hair?
The biggest drawback is that even if you don’t have the slightest of hair loss or acute hair loss as they call it, in spite of that if you don’t have the enough or right amounts of zinc in your body for a long period of time, it can definitely take a toll on your hair. This lack of zinc is shown to cause hair thinning in both men and women. It is also said that this can also damage the neighbouring hair follicles by making them weaker.
Truth be told, zinc alone cannot resolve your hair loss or directly regrow your hair. But yes, if people have a deficiency, zinc definitely can improve your hair growth and control your hair loss. But in reality, studies have shown that the levels of zinc do drop down in those that have hair loss specifically male pattern hair loss or androgenic alopecia, alopecia areata, or even telogen effluvium - that is hair loss due to severe stress in the body.
Zinc is very important in hair growth. As research advances, we also understand the deeper complexity of the molecular structure and cellular processes involved in hair growth in which zinc plays a huge role. Moreover, this zinc is involved in the growth and repair of the hair tissue and also helps in maintaining the sebum glands or oil and sweat glands around the hair follicles. This micronutrient, zinc, is also used to build the protein involved to make up hair also known as keratin. It is a protein that makes up the hair, skin, and nails. As in the biotin requirement, zinc too is required by the body to produce keratin and even a slight change in the trace amounts of zinc in the body can lead to hair getting more and more prone to dryness, hair damage, and breakage. In short, the thumb rule is to ensure that you consume adequate amounts of zinc on a regular basis in order to avoid the risk of hair thinning or hair loss.
Zinc-Rich Foods For Hair Growth
Since your body does not store any micronutrients, a steady supply is needed on a regular basis for it to aid in all of the important bodily functions. Zinc comes from a lot of food items but the thing is that the body cannot absorb all the zinc in the same way from all the food items. It is said that those who incorporate protein in their diet regularly, are the ones who can easily absorb zinc in the body from the foods they eat. So, it could be an issue for the ones who are vegans or vegetarians.
Most people get their zinc from animal sources like meat, mainly red meat and poultry while the rest get their zinc content from beans, dairy products, and nuts. While zinc is present in cereals, legumes, and other plant foods, so are phytates -- antioxidants that can bind with zinc and prevent your body from properly absorbing it. Because of the phytate content of these foods, the zinc they contain is slightly less bioavailable than the zinc found in animal products. Despite this, it’s still important to include these foods in your diet as sources of zinc, as well as for general nutritional variation.
Here are a few natural sources of zinc that can work wonders for hair health:
Since zinc is involved in keeping the hair and scalp healthy, especially the scalp around the hair follicles to maintain the oil and sweat glands, or even keeping dandruff at bay, one must regularly consume good amounts of zinc just from diet.
Nuts And Seeds
Nuts and seeds are the number one 1 healthy snacking items on the list especially when hair loss or hair regrowth is considered. There are not one but several health benefits associated with eating nuts and seeds on a regular basis. Just one handful of nuts like cashews, pine nuts, almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, or sunflower seeds gives you a healthy boost of vitamins, good fats, and minerals like zinc. These delicious and crunchy snacks can improve your skin and hair while also supporting a healthy heart and brain.
When it comes to hair loss, sugar is a big no as it directly causes hair to fall off due to hormonal imbalance. Fruits serve as a great alternative to sugar as they are natural. While most fruits only provide a small amount of zinc, there are many others jam-packed with minerals excluding zinc. Dates are the perfect snack food for getting an instant boost of zinc. A bowl full of raspberries serves 0.5 milligrams of zinc, while one cup of blackberries offers 0.8 milligrams. Pomegranates are the richest source of zinc, followed closely by avocados
Green, Leafy Veggies
Green leafy vegetables are some of the most versatile superfoods that can be eaten raw or cooked by basic boiling or sauteing. Leafy green vegetables that are easily available like spinach, and radish all contain zinc that supports healthy, shiny hair. You can even add a salad as a side dish that is both sweet and savoury salad with spinach, raspberries, avocados, and pine nuts topped with a light drizzle of olive oil and sprinkled with cracked pepper to get your daily dose of zinc and healthy fats. Your hair and scalp will thank you!
Cocoa And Chocolate
Forever favoured by all as a sweet treat—chocolate! Not milk but rather opt for dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants that are nourishing for not just the skin but also the hair, while cocoa powder is an excellent source of zinc. Baking chocolate is also quite rich in zinc, providing 85 percent of the recommended daily zinc intake in just one cup. So don't feel guilty, go ahead and bake healthy!
Why Should I Take Zinc Supplements?
According to many studies that were recently conducted, consuming zinc supplements depends on a number of factors including gender and even age groups have to be taken into consideration. Adult men aged 19 years old and above are recommended to consume 14 mg/day, while women above the age of 19 years old require about 8 mg/day. The question that is under focus is why does one need zinc supplements? Because it is needed for even basic DNA synthesis. While it is extremely and easily possible to obtain the daily recommended intake of zinc through an ordinary diet, some of us might find it challenging to achieve our daily quota and this is usually a concern when it comes to certain nutritional restrictions like a vegan or veg diet. These diets are commonly low in animal-based sources rich in zinc content. For this reason, vitamin and mineral supplementation may be required to ensure you’re getting the amount of zinc needed. Several studies have shown positive results when it comes to taking zinc supplements for hair health. Zinc supports hair growth, strengthens hair follicles, and increases thickness. Just as zinc deficiency can cause hair loss, so can excess levels of zinc. Taking zinc supplements in moderation with proper medical advice is key. The best zinc supplementation is the molecular form of zinc citrate. Why zinc citrate? It is because this form is the most easily and quickly absorbed by the body. Once absorbed, it is also easily utilized by the body.
There's no doubt that zinc is a powerful micronutrient that is not just involved in hair regrowth but also for various metabolic processes in the body. For hair specifically, it has been identified by studies as a DHT-blocking agent that prevents the excess conversion of Testosterone to DHT, the hormone that causes hair loss. This is why zinc is very essential if you are someone who's facing hair loss even without a zinc deficiency. But zinc alone is not enough. Pairing a well-balanced diet that is rich in zinc and timely exercises, the long-term effects of zinc can give you an extra edge in overall appearance and boost self-confidence!
Q1 - Is Zinc good for hair growth?
Ans - DHT is the main hormone responsible for hair loss. This DHT is ideally converted from the hormone testosterone using an enzyme 5 alpha-reductase. If you don’t understand this, picture this as a chemical reaction. Some studies say that zinc is used to block the enzyme that helps in the conversion of DHT. Some researchers directly mention that this micronutrient zinc in the body acts as an inhibitor to 5 alpha-reductase - a DHT blocker.
Q2 - How much zinc should I take for hair growth?
Ans - This depends from person to person, those having zinc deficiencies and those that don't. Ideally, it is recommended that adult males have 14 mg/day of zinc while women should consume approximately 8 mg/day of zinc. However, this number differs when there is even a slight drop in the levels of zinc. It's best to first do a blood test determining the amount of zinc and then get a doctor's consultation.
Q3 - Is Zinc Good For Hair Thinning?
Ans - Hair thinning happens because the hormone DHT when in excess attacks the hair follicles and decreases the diameter of the hair follicles. This is what causes hair to get thinner with every hair cycle. What zinc does is, it blocks the enzyme that converts to DHT in turn helping to reverse hair thinning.
Q4 - Is Biotin Or Zinc Better For Hair Growth?
Ans - Biotin is a vitamin while zinc is a micronutrient. Both are needed in the recommended dietary dose to be consumed by the body for the proper functioning of bodily processes as also for healthy hair growth. You can't compare the two as they both differ in functions involved for hair to grow thicker and fuller.