Signs Your Thyroid Needs Support: Brittle Hair Nails And Hair Loss
When recently surveying you, our tribe, we found that almost 50,000 of you commented about struggling with brittle or weak nails and hair loss or thinning.
This number jumps out because it can be common to brush this off as a natural part of aging or genetics when really this is a huge issue and there is often an underlying causeyour thyroid.
Between the ages 35 and 65, 13% of us will experience hypothyroidism and this number rises to 20% among those over 65.
The link between the disease and symptoms is not always visible, so it can often go undiagnosed and untreated for years.
Untreated hypothyroidism can increase your risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease not to mention take away so much of your quality of life.
It can be common to notice dry, brittle hair, or even hair loss after having children or experiencing significant stress in your life.
You may also see the outside of your eyebrows thinning or your nails breaking easily.
These are all signs of a low functioning thyroid. Midlife hormonal changes for both men and women can bring subtle changes in our skin, hair, energy, weight, and mental health.
Before adding new beauty products, cutting your hair shorter or writing it off as natural aging, it may be a good idea to take a look at your thyroideven if your lab results come back within range.
The thyroid is the furnace and also the thermostat of the human body if the thyroid is off, our entire body can be off balance.
How To Grow Your Hair Back
Okay, so let’s get into the specifics.
I mentioned previously that it can be difficult to figure out what is actually causing your hair loss and that’s because there are several things that matter to thyroid patients and no one else.
Let’s get into each of those:
#1. Thyroid hormone status.
The first and most obvious source of hair loss stems from the status of thyroid hormone in your body.
For most people, this will mean that you are NOT getting enough thyroid hormone.
If you don’t get enough then the hair in your hair follicles won’t grow, it’s quite simple.
This is also true for people who are taking thyroid medication.
The key to fixing this problem is to simply adjust your dose .
Taking a higher dose of thyroid medication will increase thyroid hormone status and improve hair growth.
You should also be aware that an excessively HIGH dose of thyroid hormone can also cause hair loss as well.
This is unusual, but it does happen from time to time.
Both a hyperthyroid and a hypothyroid state, induced by thyroid medication, can trigger hair loss.
But as I mentioned, probably 98% of you reading this are not taking enough thyroid medication so you will need to increase your dose.
#2. Thyroid medications.
The next source of hair loss can stem from the very medication that you are taking to try and fix thyroid hormone status.
That’s right! Thyroid medication ITSELF can cause hair loss regardless of the dose that you are taking.
There’s a big difference between those two.
Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency
Not having enough Vitamin D has also been implicated in hypothyroidism by some practitioners and experts. As such, taking a supplement or boosting intake of the vitamin through fortified foods helps. Also ensure that you get about 20 to 30 minutes in the sun to help your body produce the vitamin.
This could help with improving thyroid function and overall metabolism. Over time, as function of the thyroid gland is restored, your hair growth may also improve and return to normal.7
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How Does Hypothyroidism Cause Hair Loss
Hypothyroidism is the condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormones are responsible for regulating the body’s metabolic rate including controlling heart, muscle and digestive functions, brain development, and bone maintenance. When not enough thyroid hormone circulates in your body, your cells cannot keep up with normal processes.
Low thyroid hormones can interfere with the hair growth cycle by shortening the anagen phase and delaying the start of a new follicle from growing. Thus, more hair than normal can be in the resting phase, making your hair thinner. Low thyroid hormone levels can also cause your hair to become brittle and dry, making it look even more sparse.
Skip Processed Foods Caffeine Sugar And Alcohol
Those with thyroid problems, including hypothyroid are usually urged to avoid eating any kind of processed or heavily refined foods. Sugar, alcohol, and caffeine too are advised against. All of these cause inflammatory responses in the body which could worsen your thyroid problem and makes your hair loss worse.12
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About Dr Amanda Oakley
Associate Professor Dr. Amanda Oakley is a dermatologist at Waikato Hospital in Hamilton, New Zealand. She is also the website manager and chief editor of DermNet NZ which presents authoritative facts about the skin for consumers and health professionals in New Zealand and throughout the world. It is written and reviewed by dermatologists, other health professionals and medical writers. dermnetnz.org
I appreciate every share! Thank you.
Why Does A Thyroid Imbalance Cause Thinning Hair
Your hair normally grows in a healthy cyclical pattern with most of the hair follicles growing while only a small number are resting. With a thyroid imbalance, this cycle can be thrown off, resulting in more hair follicles resting than growing and more hair falling out. Hair loss is a very common symptom of a thyroid imbalance.
But thyroid imbalances often arise slowly and remain unnoticed by women and their doctors in the early phases. Even with a lab test, your doctor may say everything is fine with your thyroid, even though you strongly suspect that something is wrong. This is because standard labs have a very wide range for what is normal in terms of thyroid test results.
So how do you know if your hair loss is connected to a thyroid disorder?
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Other Causes Of Hypothyroidism
In some cases, hypothyroidism results from a problem with the pituitary gland, which is at the base of the brain. This gland produces thyroid-stimulating hormone , which tells the thyroid to do its job. If your pituitary gland does not produce enough TSH, levels of thyroid hormones will fall. Other causes of hypothyroidism include temporary inflammation of the thyroid or medications that affect thyroid function.
Hair Shaft Elongation Quantitative Hair Cycle Histomorphometry And Histology
Hair shaft length measurements of vehicle/T3/T4-treated HFs were performed every second day on individual HFs using a Zeiss inverted binocular microscope with an eyepiece measuring graticule.
Seven-micrometer-thick cryostat sections of cultured HFs were fixed in acetone, air dried, and processed for histology. Masson-Fontana histochemistry was used for studying HF morphology as well as visualizing melanin pigment. HF cycle staging was carried out according to previously defined morphological criteria, and the percentage of HFs in anagen and early, mid, or late catagen was determined. Densitometric measurement of melanin staining intensity was performed with ImageJ software .
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Natural Treatments For Sluggish Bile
1. Sip 8 oz. of hot water mixed with the juice of half a lemon. Gittleman says the fruits citric acid stimulates bile flow and helps the liver flush out toxins that thicken the fluid. Not a citrus fan? Heres another bile-thinning beverage.
2. Drink 8 oz. of water mixed with 1 oz. of unsweetened cranberry juice four times throughout the day.
3. Enjoy 1 12 cups of fiber-rich veggies or non-gluten grains daily. This helps the body clear toxins to keep bile thin, says Gittleman.
3. Add 1 Tbs. of lecithin powder to smoothies, salads or cereal daily. As Gittleman explains, This fatty compound is the primary agent in bile that breaks down fats.
Hair Loss Seems To Have 5 Common Causes:
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Replies To How To Grow Hair With Thyroid Problems
- Sher BradwaySeptember 16, 2020
Ive been diagnosed Hypothyroidism , for the over 10 years and Ive been on Levothyroxine ranging from 88mcg. which seemed too high and had a reaction. Now Im on 25mcg. and Im still losing hair.Im totally frustrated! Ive changed my diet and have been on nutrients and supplements and am still having hair loss and all the symptoms.
- Hip Hip JorgeSeptember 17, 2020
Go through the videos in our Facebook group which help you optimize your microbiome to grow thick hair again
T3 And T4 Do Not Significantly Alter Human Hair Shaft Formation In Vitro
However, during the relatively short HF organ culture period , these effects on hair matrix keratinocyte proliferation/apoptosis did not result in marked alterations of actual hair shaft morphology or hair shaft production: When measuring the rate of hair shaft elongation in vitro, this remained essentially unaltered by TH. Compared with vehicle controls, significant, reproducible, hair shaft growth-promoting effects of either T3 or T4 were not detectable.
Hair shaft elongation and structure did not alter after T3/T4 treatment. A, Percentage of hair shaft elongation measured every second day and compared with d 0 B, final percentage of hair shaft elongation after 9 d culturing compared with d 0 , all tested concentrations not significant C, hair shaft morphology: C1, control C2, T3 1 pm C3, T4 1000 nm. Scale bars, 50 m. HS, Hair shaft IRS, inner root sheath ORS, outer root sheath.
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Mechanism Of Thyroid Related Hair Loss
Normally, the thyroid gland function is to release triiodothyronine and thyroxine hormones into the bloodstream to regulate wide range of body functions, including the regulation of central nervous system and metabolism. An overactive thyroid gland apparently stimulates the production of excess of hormones, which tend to boost the metabolic rate by assisting the system to drive energy into the cells. An over-functioning thyroid gland increases the heart rate, nervousness, perspiration, including hair loss. Moreover, the hormonal imbalance ceases the growth of hair from the hair follicles. Hence prescription thyroid hormones should be taken daily to correct the problem as the hair regrowth occurs when the body produces appropriate hormones to promote hair formation.
Hair related signs in thyroid disorders
Some of the commonly experienced hair related signs during thyroid disorders are as follows:
Initially, the hair presents with easy breakage and tangling
Hair presents with an altered texture, fine thinning with evident roughness or coarseness
Hair tends to become brittle and straw like.
Altered hair quality and the hair cant retain a curl or perm.
Amount of hair loss is specific to each affected patient
Hair fallout isnt limited to only scalp, but also becomes evident in arms, underarms and legs
Hair becomes dry and presents with poor general condition.
Sparse eyebrows and loss of body hair
Excessive hair shedding is more common in hypothyroidism.
Why Does Hypothyroidism Cause Hair Loss
The thyroid hormones T3 and T4 are responsible for the modulation of biological processes of the hair in multiple ways.
T3 and T4 together down-regulate the death of keratinocytes or cells that create the keratin, a building block of your hair.
Lack of thyroid hormones makes hair cells die quicker and hinders regrowth.
T4 on its own up-regulates the proliferation of these cells that form the hair matrix. It also increases the duration of the growth phase of hair cells.4
If your thyroid isnt active enough, you simply dont have enough of these hormones in your body. So your hair cells die quicker and are not replenished. This is what causes hair loss due to hypothyroidism.
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Does Levothyroxine Cause Hair Loss
- Understanding the hair growth cycle
- How does hypothyroidism cause hair loss?
- Shouldn’t levothyroxine treat my hair loss?
- How to slow or reverse hair loss
Off-kilter hormones can easily disrupt the delicate hair growth cycle. This disruption is especially true for thyroid hormones, which are responsible for regulating the cellular growth and metabolism of every cell in your body. Hair loss is a common side effect of hypothyroidism, but it is a treatable problem. However, many people wonder if levothyroxine, the most commonly prescribed treatment option for hypothyroidism also causes hair loss. Ahead, a look at if levothyroxine causes hair loss.
Hypothyroidism And Hair Loss
As weve said, thyroid levels and hair loss are inextricably linked. Hair loss due to thyroid is linked to hypothyroidism, low levels of thyroid hormones, which reduces the ability of the body to regenerate cells. Women are five times more likely to be diagnosed with hypothyroidism than men and the odds increase with age. According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the autoimmune disease Hashimotos thyroiditis is responsible for up to 80% of hypothyroid cases in the US and in the developed world. In the developing world, hypothyroidism often is caused by iodine deficiency. Endocrinologists advise that individuals with one autoimmune disease are more at risk for other autoimmune diseases. For instance, the hair loss condition alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles. Thus, women who have hypothyroidism due to Hashimotos thyroiditis may be more susceptible to developing alopecia areata.
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How Thyroid Hormones Cause Hair Loss
Your hair follicles follow a natural cycle of hair growth and resting phases. At any given time, most of your hair is growing while only a small portion of it is resting. But when changes in the body throw off that cycle, too much hair rests at one time and not enough grows, resulting in excessive hair loss, thinning hair, or balding.
Many medical conditions can cause hair loss, with thyroid disease a common culprit. Thyroid problems include both an underactive thyroid gland and an overactive thyroid gland . Because hair growth depends on the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, abnormal levels of thyroid hormone produced by this gland can result in hair changes, along with many other side effects, if left untreated. When there is too much thyroid hormone, the hair on your head can become fine, with thinning hair all over the scalp. When there is too little of this hormone, there can be hair loss, not just on the scalp, but also anywhere on the body.
Ironically, taking the hormone levothyroxine to treat an underactive thyroid can contribute to some hair loss, among other side effects, but this seems to be more common within the first month of treatment and more often in children than adults. This hair loss is only temporary and will go away as treatment is continued and thyroid hormone levels stabilize.
Understanding The Hair Growth Cycle
There are three primary phases of the hair growth cycle: anagen, catagen, and telogen. Every strand on your head follows its own growth cycle, which means that you will not lose all your hair at one time when they switch to the shedding phase.
Anagen is the growing phase of hair growth, and it typically lasts between 4-7 years. Certain factors can interrupt the anagen phase, including stress, illness, and significant hormone fluctuations.
Catagen is a quick resting phase that lasts about two weeks. During this phase, the hair follicle stops growing and waits for the bulb to begin detaching in your scalp.
Telogen is the final phase of the hair growth cycle. The strand fully detaches from your scalp and eventually sheds. This phase usually lasts three months and ends with the hair falling out. After these three months, a new follicle will begin to grow, starting the process all over again.
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Dealing With Hair Loss Related To Hashimoto’s & Thyroiditis Hair Loss
What if you have hair loss related to Hashimoto’s or thyroiditis?
Does this change how you deal with or treat your issue?
The answer is… not really, and here’s why.
It turns out that most patients in the United States who have hypothyroidism suffer from this condition as a result of Hashimoto’s.
In fact, it is estimated that up to 90% of patients with hypothyroidism have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis as the underlying cause.
So, patients with thyroiditis have all of the usual problems that most hypothyroid patients have, plus they have a few extra from the autoimmune and genetic aspect of Hashimoto’s which can complicate the hair loss picture.
What does that mean for you?
It means if you have Hashimoto’s you still need to look at all of the “usual suspects” including:
- Iron and ferritin levels
- PLUS: Sensitivity to hair and makeup products
Those who have Hashimoto’s will know that they are often very sensitive to inactive ingredients which include dyes and fillers in all products ranging from supplements to shampoos and conditioners.
In addition to all of the recommendations above, you will want to make sure that you also ditch out low-quality hair products which you may be reacting to.
These products can damage what little hair you have left and some of the chemicals may be absorbed transdermally .
And last of all, you may need to look into genetic causes of hair loss which may be caused due to your genes .
Supporting Your Thyroid Back To Health
Proper Testing Completing a full thyroid panel once a year is an excellent idea for anyone struggling with the above symptoms. A full thyroid panel will include free T3, free T4, T3, T4, TSH, and TPO and I also like to run reverse T3. Reverse T3 is a good marker to see if stress coming from overworked adrenals is at the root of a thyroid issue. It is crucial to find a good practitioner who can review the results with you. Unfortunately, it is common to find that while your lab work is normal, you still have symptoms. We truly must be our own detectives and advocate for our health.
Check Ferritin Ferritin is the stored form of iron. Low ferritin is one of the most common causes of hair loss in women. Given that low ferritin is also a common problem for those with hypothyroidism, it is important to have your iron levels tested, including ferritinespecially if you are experiencing hair loss. It is not enough to be told by your doctor that your iron levels are normal. The range is wide , but you should at least be between 65-80. Liver Capsules are great for low ferritin, and I also love Gaia Herbs Liquid Iron. This type of iron, as opposed to many other forms and brands, tends not to constipate.
Adequate Carbohydrate Intake It is essential that we consume enough carbohydrates to support our thyroid. We have talked about this in-depth in our carbohydrates and stress blog this entire blog is dedicated to how to use carbohydrates strategically to support the thyroid.
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