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What Happens To Hair When You Are Stressed?


Hair Stress Shedding

No one told me my hair would fall out after I had a baby. Hashtag I hate postpartum hair loss. No one told me my hair loss could be worse if I stressed about my hair falling out after baby or experienced one of the millions of reasons we have anxiety as a New Mom. 

Whether you are a Mom of five or never even thought about having kids, your hair has the potential to be affected by stressors. This is how it works.

When we're stressed, our adrenal glands produce this hormone called cortisol.

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that regulates a wide range of processes throughout the body, including metabolism and the immune response. Cortisol has a very important role in helping the body respond to stress.  However, cortisol also signals our hair follicles to shift from the growth phase to the transition phase, and eventually, this leads to hair fall (telogen effluvium). 

Cliff Notes: 

1. Stress can push hair into a resting phase which means you aren't producing new hair. 

2. Over time, hair can fall out more easily, even if you’re just washing, combing, or touching it.

3. Poor nutrition which is often a factor in stress-related and anxiety-related hair loss can further hair shedding and breakage. 

Let's dive deeper into the nutrition side.  What if I'm still maintaining a healthy diet?  Does our body use up vitamins differently when stressed? 

The short answer is Yes. When we have anxiety and stress hair can actually shed because key nutrients aren't available to move hair to the growth phase.  When you are stressed and anxious you can experience some of the following:

  • increased muscle tension/pain
  • increased skin sebum production
  • increased hormones processed in the body
  • inflammation
  • slow down of  digestive processes
  • inability to sleep
  • inability to store and absorb nutrients
  • increased fatigue
  • low mood

As the body works to combat these issues, the supplies and vitamins needed for hair growth can be diminished, especially as the inability to absorb them becomes less possible.

Additionally, sebum can clog the pores in the scalp, this makes it much harder for hair to grow.

What Vitamins Does My Body Deplete When Stressed? 

Stress can deplete your body of essential vitamins and minerals. Typically B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, and Zinc are used.  These are used and released to assist the body in fighting inflammation, neutralizing free radicals, and in response to tension in the body. 

Can a vitamin deficiency from stress cause me to feel more stressed? 

YES, unfortunately, stress causes this vicious cycle in the body. The hope is and what most doctors will recommend is "eliminate the stressor." 

Of course, we hope to be lucky and have our stressful situations resolve themselves in a few days, but more often than not as new moms you spend most of your days caring for someone else and putting out fires.  All the nutrients that help us manage stress quickly become depleted, and if you are breastfeeding go ahead and cut those down because you are sharing nutrition with your child as well. 

Ok, Enough Doom and Gloom.  Let's move forward and look at some of the most important nutrients we should provide our body with during this time to help manage stress and lesson the hair fall period:

  • B- Vitamins:  B vitamins are often the first to be depleted during stressful times. they play such an important role in energy production, cellular health, and cognitive performance. B12 deficiency is linked to low energy, depression, and fatigue.
  • Vitamin C: This powerhouse antioxidant protects cells from oxidative damage and supports the immune system to fight off invading pathogens. Vitamin-C is also involved in collagen production, an anti-aging protein that supports healthy skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and blood vessels. The stress hormone cortisol (remember we talked about it earlier) quickly depletes vitamin C and its important to replenish this as quickly as you can. 
  • Vitamin D:  In addition to supporting strong bones by aiding in the absorption of calcium and magnesium, D is important for brain health and immune function. A little sunlight and you can replenish Vitamin D pretty quickly.
  • Calcium, Magnesium, and Zinc: These essential minerals aid in metabolism support, and help support bones, muscles and connective tissue. They are essential for heart health, brain function, and energy production.

Adding foods to our diet rich in these vitamins and minerals can be an important way to increase our bodies' ability to handle the stressor and help hair move to the growth phase. Many who are stressed find it difficult to get the nutrition from food required for this kind of repair and in those cases, a supplement can be helpful.  Our Baby Blues postpartum hair loss vitamins contain the vitamins bullet-pointed above to ensure New Moms who are feeling extra stress can support their hair into the growth phase. 

What many people will tell you is your hair loss is simply hormones and estrogen dropping. The truth is, it can be much bigger than that. A combination of stress shedding on top of the hormonal shed can be taking place and it's important to ensure your body is equipped to fight that, so you aren't lingering in the hair loss phase of the hair cycle. 


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