High cholesterol levels are estimated to cause 2.6 million deaths and 29.7 million disability adjusted life years (i.e. the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death). Not only is high cholesterol linked to heart disease, but also to hair loss.
Studies have shown that people with a healthy level of LDL (low-density lipoproteins or ‘bad cholesterol’) have less hair loss than those with high levels of LDL. Moreover, simply by reducing their LDL levels to less than 2.5mmol/L, individuals noted improvements in hair density and stabilization in hair loss.
Having high LDL levels isn’t the only risk for baldness. Medication for cholesterol (particularly clofibrate (Atromid), atorvastatin (Lipitor) and gemfibrozil (Lopid)) can also contribute to hair loss. As noted by The American Hair Loss Association, “Many commonly prescribed prescription drugs can cause temporary hair loss, trigger the onset of male and female pattern baldness, and even cause permanent hair loss.
Your doctor may not mention hair loss as a side effect of some drugs, so don’t forget to do your own research and read the drug manufacturer’s complete warnings.” Hair loss is actually listed as a ‘rare’ side-effect of these medications, so reading the full prospectus is key to foster healthy, strong hair.
Cholesterol is necessary for a plethora of functions, including the production of specific digestive enzymes, vitamins, hormones, and cell structures. Medications such as Lipitor lower cholesterol but also disrupt the formation of the structural components needed to support hair growth.
So instead of Lipitor, it is vital to find natural alternatives (CholesLo is totally natural and highly effective) as well as other supplements. Regular exercise, a healthy Mediterranean-style diet, and stress reducing activities are also powerful cholesterol busters.
A recent study by researchers at the University of California found that weight loss programs that involve the consumption of healthy fats (such as cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil) or walnuts (also rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids) not only reduce cholesterol levels but also have a significant impact on lipid levels, particularly in persons who are insulin resistant.
Omega-3s are as important to boost hair health, since they fight inflammation, which can interfere with the nourishment of hair roots by damaging the scalp. Omega-3s can be sourced from fish oil capsules, as well as fatty fish (such as tuna and salmon), walnuts, chia seeds, egg yolks, etc.
If your Vitamin B levels are low, consider supplementation. Vitamin B7 (or Biotin) is a crucial element for hair growth and is found in eggs, fatty fish, chicken, almonds, and whole grains. Another important Vitamin is D, which you can obtain from the sun as well as foods such as fatty fish, mushrooms, and egg yolks.
In one study, young people with low Vitamin D levels were found to have a significantly higher level of hair loss. If you live in a sunny area, ensure you bask beneath the sun for at least 10 minutes a day.
Iron, sourced from green leafy vegetables, is another vital nutrient, with studies showing that a deficiency can lead hair to fall out similarly to how it does in cases of female and male pattern baldness.
Finally, ensure you consume Vitamin C-rich foods such as oranges, to fight the free radical that is involved in the aging of skin and hair.
In addition to paying attention to diet, try to get a good night’s sleep and battle stress proactively. Chronically high stress levels are linked to heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, but they can also trigger autoimmune conditions such as alopecia areata, in which the hair falls out in chunks or (in the case of alopecia totalis) altogether. Holistic methods for stress reduction such as meditation have been proven successful in countless studies.
Exercise, too, can boost levels of ‘feel good’ hormones (or endorphins), buffering the effects of stress. Don’t work more than you need to, find the time to prepare healthy fresh meals, and exercise every day if you can.
Moreover, if your fatty fish intake is low, consider Omega-3 supplementation, as well as boosting your B, C, D, and iron levels. Be aware of the way stress affects your physical and mental health, taking the steps you need to protect yourself against the bevy of chronic conditions a hectic lifestyle can bring on.
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