By Anne Copley,
Contributor for the Yahoo! Network
Did you know
that someone with thin, brittle aging hair can follow 4 steps to have
beautiful, fuller hair? These easy, inexpensive steps can put bounce, beauty,
fullness, and youthfulness back into hair.
Why Does Aging Hair Lose its Luster?
As women age, hair follicles become dormant (stop producing hair) in
increasing numbers, causing hair to become thin or bald1. With
aging, the hair shaft decreases in diameter2, which is referred to
as "fine" hair. As aging hair becomes thinner, the remaining hair
that does grow is often fine, fragile, brittle and lacking in luster, fullness1.
Fine hair breaks easily, and is very susceptible to damage from chemicals or
harsh handling, thus making it nearly impossible to look beautiful, especially
in any length other than short.
However, there are a few lucky older women who somehow seem to defy age and
retain thick, beautiful hair. But for those of us who are not among those lucky
few, there are four easy steps we can take toward having beautiful hair again.
It is important to keep in mind that after these four steps have been
faithfully followed, it will be necessary for the old damaged,
nutrition-starved hair to completely grow out (and be trimmed off). Thus, the
longer the hair length desired, the more time will be required for the healthy,
full hair to grow in and take over.
If hair becomes suddenly thin or bald, a physician should be consulted to
ensure that there is not a medical condition responsible for the sudden hair
loss. This may include an overdose of vitamin A, high fever, toxic drugs or
medications, thyroid or pituitary gland disorders, and pregnancy3.
Even after the medical condition has been remedied, hair may continue to fall
out for 3 or 4 months3.
THE 4 STEPS TO GORGEOUS HAIR
Step 1 - Avoid harsh chemicals
Any harsh chemicals, such as perms or permanent coloring is guaranteed to
damage hair to some extent, regardless of the skill of the hairdresser and the
quality of the chemicals being applied4. Fine, aging hair becomes
dry and brittle from chemical damage or excessive heat far easier than young,
healthy hair4. Thus, for styling, use soft sponge rollers. For
coloring, use a non-damaging semi-permanent hair color that lasts 2 to 3
months, such as "Ion Brilliance" or other similar semi-permanent hair
Step 2 - Nutrition
Growing healthy hair. The inexpensive "hair vitamin"
called Maxi-hair by Country Life is guaranteed to add fullness and strength
to hair at any age. Skeptical at first, I tried this myself, and it has worked
wonders. I bought mine from
Swanson Vitamins for about $8 (90 tablets). The bottle lasts 45 days.
Take one tablet each morning and another each evening. Since hair typically
grows about 1/2 inch per month, allow a few months for results to be
The natural food product called nutritional yeast is packed
full of the B-group vitamins, which are absolutely
essential for hair growth. It is commonly sold in flake form (yeast flakes).
Take 1 to 2 tablespoons daily of these yeast
flakes to promote healthy hair growth. Mix it with salad dressing or
stir it into a glass of cold water. Yeast flakes can be mixed in with many
different types of food. Vegan (non-dairy, non meat) cheese sauces are usually
made with nutritional
yeast, because of its mild cheesy flavor.
Further on nutrition, low consumption or absorption of L-Lysine, an
amino acid, can contribute to hair loss5, but this can be averted by
consuming adequate amounts of legumes (beans, peas, and lentils)6.
Healthy hair growth is further promoted by the consumption of leafy green vegetables
and yellow or orange fruits7. Non-refined, non-processed
carbohydrates (whole foods) are essential for healthy, beautiful hair, such as
vegetables, fruits, whole grains, brown rice, and sweet potatoes8.
Writer, Linda McCloud, of Associated Content teaches that spinach, fish, green
leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts, and broccoli are foods that promote
healthy hair growth. In her book, "Body Fuel9," author
Donna Shryer states that the B-complex vitamins found in fish, tomatoes, egg
yolks, broccoli, potatoes and whole grains make hair grow healthier, fuller,
and softer. Additionally, Shryer informs readers that vitamin B9 (also called
folic acid or folate) also nourishes the hair, and is found in eggs, almonds,
peanuts, pecans, walnuts, soybeans, legumes, and oat bran.
To maximize absorption of nutrients, take a probiotic capsule, available at most
healthfood stores. Additionally, papaya enzyme and bromelain further enhance
the body's absorption of nutrients.
Reversing gray hair. Two minerals that have the ability to reverse gray
hair are zinc and copper10, but should be consumed from a natural
source to avoid overdose, according to the Hippocrates Health Institute. Copper
is abundant in sesame seeds, raw cashews, cooked soybeans, barley, sunflower
seeds, tempeh, garbanzo beans, and navy beans11. Good sources of
zinc are peanuts, legumes, whole grains, brown rice, and potatoes12.
To absorb the maximum amount of nutrients from food, eat them raw (when
reasonable) 13. Raw foods are packed with enzymes, which are special
types of proteins that break down the foods we eat into molecules that our
bodies are able to absorb, and thus sustain life13,14. Some foods,
such as sweet potatoes and legumes must be cooked prior to consumption, but
many fruits and vegetables can be consumed raw.
Step 3 - Hair care
Brushing hair. Taking care of one's hair, especially aging hair, is
extremely important in maintaining beautiful hair that has natural softness and
silkiness. Always use a soft-bristle brush to prevent breakage and tearing of
the hair. Wet hair must be brushed with great care, because it is especially
vulnerable to damage and tearing. Always brush hair gently, and have patience
when brushing tangles out to not pull, stretch, or break hair.
Pulling or tightening hair. Never pull on hair or wear a hair style that
causes "tight" hair, such as tight curlers, braids, cornrows, and
hair weaves, according to writer, D. Swain, of Associated Content . Swain
teaches us that tension (pulling) on hair can lead to hair loss.
Step 4 - Make hair healthier and thicker
Exercise and nutrition. Hair can actually grow healthier, thicker, and
longer with proper nutrition and exercise, according to writer, Linda McCloud,
of Associated Content. McCloud states that aerobic exercise increases
circulation which improves the health of hair follicles, thus promoting
healthier, thicker hair.
Extra help is available. If, after following the above measures to
improve hair's health and appearance, hair is still not thick enough, two
products are available, which have been proven to make hair thicker: minoxidil
and procyanidin15,16 . Minoxidil (topically applied) has been
available for many years and can be purchased at most large discount stores for
about $6 or $7 for a one month's supply. Procyanidin is a fruit extract,
commonly from grape seeds, and even more abundant in the skins of apples17,
and is available in the form of daily capsules from Apple Poly
(www.ApplePoly.com), but is more expensive than minoxidil. However, in studies,
procyanidin actually produced hair with a thicker hair shaft diameter, meaning
that the hair was stronger, less brittle, and more resistant to damage from
chemicals and harsh handling18.
In summary, good nutrition and proper hair care can make the difference between
thin, brittle, breakable hair and soft, full and beautiful hair, according to
the "Encyclopedia of Aging and Public Health." If hair remains
excessively thin after implementing good nutrition and hair care, adding either
topical minoxidil or daily capsules of procyanidin can help to return hair to a
thickness and fullness perhaps not seen in years.
Article by Anne Copley, a research writer/photographer,
with a column at Associated Content.
1. "Geriatric Medicine" by Drs. Cassel, Leipzig, and Cohen
2. "American Journal of Physical Anthropology", Wiley-Liss,
Inc., Vol. 8 Iss. 3, 7 Jun 2005
3. "Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy" by Merck Sharp
& Dohme Research Laboratories
4. The Hair Boutique: http://www.hairboutique.com/tips/tip8078.htm
5. "Encyclopedia of Aging and Public Health"; "Hair
Care" chapter by Dr. Jannatfay Clark
6. Univ. of Maryland Med. Ctr: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/lysine-000312.htm
7. "Handbook of Nutrition and diet" by B. B. Desai
8. Better Living: http://www.betterliving.co.nz
9. "Body Fuel: A Guide to Good Nutrition" by Donna Shryer
10. "Ask The Experts" June 28, 2007 issue by Hippocrates Health Institute
11. World's Healthiest Foods: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=53
12. Nutritional Supplement Health Guide: www.nutritional-supplements-health-guide.com/zinc-food-sources.html
13. Hippocrates Health Institute: http://www.hippocratesinst.org
14. Encyclopedia Brittanica: http://www.britannica.com
15. Hair Loss Advisor: http://www.myhairlossadvisor.com/recommended-hair-loss-treatments.html
16. "An Apple a Day: Health Benefits of Apples" by M.L. Devon, Associated Content
17. "British Journal of Dermatology" 2002 Jan; 146(1):41-51, Kamimura and Takahashi
18. Phytotherapy Research, Vol. 15 Iss. 4, 8 Jun 2001, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.