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Image Source: @joybeforeher

If there’s one thing that our hair naturally does, on a daily basis, it’s shed hair; it’s when you lose strands of hair from the root (if you look closely, you should actually see a tiny bulb from where your hair came out of its hair follicle). When it comes to what’s “normal”, most health professionals would say that 50-100 strands of hair would fall into that category.

There are two times when there’s an exception to this, though. One is if you’ve had your hair up in a protective style like braids. That’s because, if you haven’t been able to comb or brush your hair, it hasn’t been able to properly shed. As a result, taking your hair down will mean that you will see more hair shed/loss than usual. The other is when you are going through something that has the medical term of telogen effluvium. It’s basically the term for excessive shedding and, as you’re about to see in just a couple of seconds, there are several things that can cause it.

If you happen to be someone who is losing more hair than normal, before freaking out, take a moment to see why it could be the case. That way, you can know what to do to get your tresses back on track again.

1. You’re stressed out.

Although all of us have moments when we’re more stressed out than normal, when the cortisol (the stress hormone that is naturally produced in our body) is peaking, it can definitely cause our hair to shed more than it usually does. For example, although giving birth to a child is one of the greatest moments in a woman’s life, it can also be one of the most stress-filled; this explains why a lot of new moms end up losing a significant amount of hair for the several months following going into labor. If you know that you’ve been feeling more worried, anxious and/or you’ve been getting a lot less sleep than you usually do, oftentimes all you need to do is alter your lifestyle a bit. Get into an exercise routine. Strive for no less than 6-8 hours of sleep. Set some boundaries if the cause of your stress is a particular person or environment. Sometimes, very simple modifications can be all that you need to feel better and to see your hair return back to normal.

2. Your hormones are all over the place.

Something else that stress can do is cause your hormones to go on a major emotional roller coaster ride that can also affect how much your hair sheds. But so can going through normal life transitions like perimenopause and menopause due to the shifts in estrogen that your system will experience. A natural thing that you can do to level out your hormones a bit is to eat more foods like avocados, flaxseeds, broccoli, meat (to get more protein) and healthy fats like coconut oil and palm oil—all of these are proven to bring a balance back to hormone levels that may be a little out of wack. If after a few weeks, you don’t notice any signs of improvement, you might want to make an appointment with your doctor so that they can do some extensive testing to see if there is a hormonal issue that may require medication or if an alternative form of therapy is required to resolve the matter.

3. You could stand to eat better.

When you really let it sink in that food is the fuel that our bodies need to get throughout the day, and that food also plays a significant role in our overall health and well-being, it makes perfect sense that a poor diet can also lead to excessive hair shedding. In fact, there are many studies to support that if you’re not getting enough zinc, vitamins A, B12, C and D and also copper and biotin, you could end up within a noticeably weak head of hair. That’s why it’s important to lighten up on any junk food that you might be consuming and to also up your intake of oatmeal (zinc), orange and yellow veggies (Vitamin A), salmon (Vitamin B12), citrus fruits and berries (Vitamin C), Greek yogurt (Vitamin D), dark chocolate (copper) and sweet potatoes and spinach (biotin). Make sure to drink lots of water too; the more moisturized your hair follicles are, the better the health of your hair will be overall.

4. Your thyroid is a little off.

A lot of us are fully aware of the fact that we’ve got a thyroid, but if you’ve ever wondered exactly what your thyroid is, it’s a butterfly-shaped gland that is located underneath your Adam’s apple. Basically, your thyroid releases hormones that play a significant role in determining your metabolism, development and even your body temperature. When your thyroid isn’t functioning as well as it should be, it could result in you experiencing extreme levels of fatigue, muscle aches and cramps (that isn’t related to things like exercise or dehydration), noticeable weight loss and gain (that tends to go up and down a lot), intolerance to cold and yes, hair shedding. If you’ve had a combination of these things going on for more than a few weeks, definitely reach out to your physician. A thyroid issue is typically something that you need a professional to assist you with.

5. Your iron levels are low.

Did you know that roughly 25 percent of the world’s population struggles with some level of anemia? Anemia is when your iron levels are dangerously low. Some symptoms of anemia include weakness, fatigue, dizziness, chest pains, brittle nails, an inflamed tongue and excessive hair shedding. If you are borderline anemic, oftentimes adding more iron to your diet can get you back on track. Foods high in iron include baked potatoes, dark leafy greens, whole grains, molasses, cashews, red meat, legumes, quinoa, pumpkin seeds and 100 pure red grape juice. However, it should go on record that if you’ve got a combination of the symptoms that I mentioned, this is another reason to see your doctor sooner than later. While they might recommend something as simple as you taking an iron supplement, they also might need to put you on an antibiotic, give you some form of oxygen therapy or, in extreme cases, you might even need a blood transfusion.

6. You’ve got a health issue (that you may be unaware of).

Let’s wrap this up with another, very important, reason why you might be shedding hair more than usual—an underlying health concern. What you might not realize is everything from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diabetes to lupus and liver disease, to even skin/scalp conditions like dermatitis and psoriasis, can all play a role in you shedding large amounts of hair. So, if after making some of the health adjustments that I recommended in this article, you don’t notice any major changes when it comes to your hair (when it comes to experiencing less shedding), please see your doctor as soon as you possibly can. Excessive hair shedding rarely happens “just because”.

Get the peace of mind that you need to figure out why it’s happening to you by speaking with a medical professional, OK? Cool.