Because hair loss and baldness is generally perceived as a condition relegated to the male sex, it can be particularly devastating when it happens to women. Many women begin to see hair loss or thinning by the time they reach their fourth decade of life. These changes are due to a whole host of factors: hormone fluctuations, medications, stress, and styling to name a few.
To understand how to keep your hair healthy into your 40’s and beyond, it helps to have a basic understanding of the life span of hair and how it grows.
On average, we have about 100,000 individual hairs growing on our head at any given time. Hair is fascinating in that it is the second fastest growing tissue. The first is bone marrow. The average person loses from 50-100 hairs per day and this is quite normal. Keeping your hair growing and in good condition depends on optimal internal, as well as external conditions.
Actively growing hair is in anagen phase. During this phase, each hair is securely connected to a hair shaft or follicle. Under normal circumstances, each hair remains secured to the scalp, active, and growing for about three to six years before it enters the catagen phase. During the catagen phase, which lasts about two weeks, the follicle dies and the hair enters the telogen phase. It is during telogen phase that the individual hair will fall out. It takes about three months for the hair to complete the telogen phase, fall out, and another to begin to grow in its place.
Hair Over 40
By the time you are in your 40’s, chances are your hair isn’t the voluminous mass of shiny locks that it used to be. Years of chemical treatments, poor nutrition, smoking, and declining estrogen levels can take a toll that will show up in a widening part and a receding hair line.
Eating for Healthy Hair
Poor nutrition is one of the main reasons that women over 40 suffer from limp, thinning, and brittle hair. Here are some of the most important nutrients that you need for healthy hair:
- Omega-3 fatty acids. This nutrient is essential for growing hair and the bad news is that humans can’t manufacture omega-3. Get it by regularly eating salmon mackerel, avocado, and walnuts.
- A component of the B complex vitamins, biotin is a nutrient that is essential for hair strength, as well as hair growth. Get biotin from liver, red and green peppers, asparagus, and tuna.
- Each hair is approximately 91% protein so it only makes sense to eat a diet rich in protein to ensure that your hair has the building blocks it needs to repair and grow.
- Vitamin C. All good balance of all the vitamins is important to healthy hair, but vitamin C is critical for blood circulation to the scalp. A lack of vitamin C will cause hair to become brittle and break easily. Get vitamin C from sweet potatoes, kiwis, blueberries, and strawberries.
There are many other things that you can do to protect thinning locks in your 40’s. Consider not styling your hair as often. Heat products such as blow dryers, curling irons, and hair straighteners do a lot to damage hair, especially as it ages. Also, don’t wash your hair as much. Excessive washing strips delicate strands of natural oil that helps keep it moisturized and healthy-looking. Lastly, let your hair be the color it is naturally. Most color treatments are very harsh and leave your hair damaged and dry.
Healthy hair is a sign of youth. Even women in their 40’s can have young-looking hair if they take care of it the right way. Hair health begins on the inside with proper nutrition. In addition to eating properly, limit styling products, heated tools, and harsh chemicals as they will eventually take a toll on your precious locks.