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Gorgeous Hair After 50. Learn How to Have
Beautiful, Full, Thicker Hair at Any Age
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 color.
 
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 very visible.

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.

References:
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.

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