The Connection Between Hair Loss and Weight Loss By Bernard Arocha, MD on October 31, 2022


Hair loss can sometimes be linked to weight loss. Whether the weight loss is caused by a restrictive diet or weight loss surgery, your body has a way of retaliating by causing stress, hormonal changes, and nutrient deficiencies.
This, in turn, causes you to lose hair. The general term for this kind of hair loss is telogen effluvium. However, it is considered normal for a person to lose about 50-100 hairs in a day. Continue reading to understand the relationship between weight loss and hair loss.


What causes Telogen Effluvium? Some common causes of telogen effluvium include: • Quitting oral contraceptives • High body temperatures • Childbirth • Undergoing an operation • High-stress levels • Massive weight loss

What is the Relationship Between Diet and Hair Loss?

Several diet plans taken during the weight loss process are associated with a nutrient deficiency in the body. This lack of vitamins and minerals leads to hair loss. There are several reasons for this type of weight loss which are:

1. Crash Dieting

For hair to grow, some nutrients and calories are essential. Denying your body, some nutrients can consequently incite hair loss.
Research has been conducted to find the link between hair loss and crash dieting. In the findings, persons following crash diets experience side effects such as nutrient deficiencies, mental stress, and rapid weight loss, which are all causes of hair loss.
Crash diets often turn out to be unplanned meals that sometimes lack of vitamins and minerals such as iron, proteins, zinc, and saturated fats, essential for stimulating hair follicles.

2. Restrictive dieting

Restrictive dieting limits access to certain food groups and can result in nutrient deficiency, causing hair loss. Diets that limit access to zinc, iron, protein, essential fatty acids, and selenium have been found to contribute to hair loss. Besides, extremely low-level calorie diets contribute to hair loss. Additionally, the stress accompanying a restrictive diet can lead to hair loss.

3. Low Protein Levels in the Body

Eating a balanced diet, especially one with adequate protein levels, is paramount for hair growth. Such a diet supplies the body with enough amino acids, the basic building block of proteins. These amino acids contribute to the formation of Keratin – or the primary protein present in hair.
Therefore, you may experience hair loss if you deprive your body of enough protein to form Keratin. That could happen, especially when you are on a weight-loss diet with low protein levels.
When your body experiences protein malnutrition, it tends to ration the available protein by diverting it for use in more crucial protein-dependent tasks such as hormone production, tissue repair, water and pH balance, and digestion. Since your body can stay alive without hair growth, no amino acids will be directed toward that function, thus causing hair loss.
Furthermore, research has shown that low levels of amino acids like valine, leucine, and histidine are closely linked to hair loss. The study found that many people who suffered from alopecia mainly have leucine and histidine deficiency.

4. Weight Loss Surgeries

Even though weight loss surgeries are effective for overall weight reduction, they can lead to rapid nutrient deficiency. Weight loss surgeries have been linked to protein, mineral, and vitamin deficiency, which are crucial for healthy hair growth.
A study in 2018 that involved 50 participants who undertook sleeve gastrectomy shows that more than half experienced hair loss. Another study in 2021 showed that 75 percent of 112 women who undertook sleeve gastrectomy experienced hair loss 3 to 4 months after the surgery.

Is Telogen Effluvium Dangerous?

Weight loss-related telogen effluvium is not dangerous. However, the underlying causes of the condition, like low calories and nutrient deficiency, can be dangerous. If left unchecked, these conditions can lead to other health complications, such as iron deficiency anemia, weakened immunity, and muscle loss.
Other than causing hair loss, conditions such as iron deficiency anemia can lead to other complications like depression, heart conditions, and impaired brain functionality. Protein deficiency and calorie restrictions can also lead to poor muscle functionality, low immunity, heart and intestinal problems, and depression.
Therefore, visiting a healthcare provider when you experience hair loss is essential to help you determine the exact cause since it might not always be related to weight loss.

When Is it Time to See a Doctor?

Losing hair after weight loss is not ordinary and tends to grow back after a while. However, you should visit a healthcare specialist whenever you experience hair loss due to a strict diet or weight loss for further checkups.

Hair Loss Prevention Tactics When Trying to Lose Weight

As indicated earlier, hair loss experienced after weight loss stems from either rapid weight loss or nutrient deficiency in the body. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that you sustainably lose weight. In doing so, you will be minimizing the chances of hair loss, weight regain, and other potential consequences.
Rather than switching to a crash or restrictive diet, go for a balanced diet that nourishes your body with all vital nutrients necessary for optimal body functionality. Besides, it is essential to consult a healthcare provider before switching to a weight loss diet to prevent cases of nutrient deficiency.
Additionally, it would be best if you underwent a nutritional checkup before undertaking a weight loss surgery to ascertain that you have adequate levels of all vital nutrients such as zinc, vitamin B12, and iron. You can also supplement any deficient nutrients you are low on as prescribed by a doctor or nutritionist.

How to Regrow Lost Hair

There are several reasons for hair loss; thus, one should try and identify the root cause of the issue before attempting to treat it. As discussed above, nutrient deficiency and other things can bring about hair loss.
When you face the type of hair loss brought about by decreased deficiency, you must ensure you take the missing nutrient, and your hair will grow back. Weight loss and hair loss caused by a crash diet are corrected by ending the restricted diet by consuming a diet packed with nutrition.
A supplement intake should correct the problem in the case of a nutrient deficiency. Take note that taking supplements without having a nutrition deficiency will not help your hair regrow. Ensure you visit a professional who will help identify the cause of your hair loss before resuming treatment.
As you’ve seen, weight loss and hair loss are often interlinked, primarily due to nutrient deficiency or stress on your body during the weight loss process. The condition often affects the body anywhere from 3-4 months after you initially lose weight.
You can prevent hair loss after losing weight by maintaining a good diet to ensure that your body gets all the vital nutrients required for proper hair growth. If hair loss persists after taking all precautionary measures, you should consult a doctor. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Arocha to discuss more about your hair loss issues.


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