Stress Causing Hair Loss? Protect and Fortify with Nutrition

By Dr. Linda J. Dobberstein, DC, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

July 5, 2022

Stress Causing Hair Loss? Protect and Fortify with Nutrition
Do you ever notice hair loss after a period of significant stress? Stressors of all kinds impact your entire body. The release of free radicals from emotional or physical stress, excessive high heat from the hair dryer, hair coloring, illness, obesity, diet, and much more affect your hair. Hair growth and production depends on protection from free radical stress and optimal nutrition. If you find more strands of hair in the shower drain than normal with recent stress, it’s time to optimize your nutrition.

Hair Growth Patterns and Growth

Hair growth and production has many remarkable aspects to it. It is an ongoing energy intensive process that starts in your scalp, i.e. pre-emerging hair. During this stage, mitochondria provide the energy for hair follicle growth and impact pigmentation of the hair shaft. The second phase is called post-emergence.

Hair growth goes through its own cyclical patterns of rest and growth and is affected by factors that cause oxidative stress.

Pre-emerging Hair Growth and Oxidative Stress

Pre-emerging hair is influenced by genetics, sex, age, hormones and signals from your brain, thyroid, and adrenals, overall health, blood supply to scalp, and nutritional status.

Pre-emerging hair is sensitive to stressors of many types which affect mitochondria in the scalp and hair and the intense energy production needed for hair growth. Oxidative stress to pre-emerging hair comes from smoking, UV radiation, inflammation from chemical toxins, germs, irritants, and high stress hormones.

High stress and elevated cortisol levels slow down the rate of hair growth and increase the rate of breakdown of hyaluronan and proteins in hair follicles by as much as 40 percent. This leads to faster hair loss.

Post-emerging Hair and Oxidative Stress

Post-emergence hair, i.e. the hair on your head, is affected by things like the weather, exposure to sunlight, haircare habits and treatments as well as the condition of your scalp. Things done directly to your hair like too much combing or brushing, excessive heat from the hair dryer or curling iron, perms, coloring, bleaching, straightening and other hair treatments affect the health of your hair and cause oxidative stress.

Other Factors that Affect Hair Growth and Increase Oxidative Stress

Other factors in your life may increase oxidative stress and affect hair loss. A stressful lifestyle, aging mitochondriasignificant illness, obesity and high fat diets, bariatric weight loss surgery, hormone imbalances, pregnancy and delivery, poor diet, and autoimmune disorders like alopecia areata contribute to lowered hair production and/or increased hair loss related with oxidative stress. Some medications, chemotherapy, and radiation also cause hair loss related with increased oxidative stress.

Age and Hair Growth

Hair production also goes through cyclical patterns of rest and growth. With age, hair follicle cells spend more time in the rest stage with less growth. Higher oxidative stress levels cause the hair shaft to become shorter and finer and the hair follicle shrinks which makes it fall out sooner. Premature graying of hair is also related with increased levels of oxidative stress and mitochondrial load.

If you find yourself with thinning hair from recent or ongoing stress, it is time to be proactive and nourish your hair. Oxidative stress that causes hair loss also affects the rest of your body, even though you may not visibly see it. Help support and protect your mitochondria, scalp, nerves, thyroid, adrenals, and tissues against free radical oxidative stress for healthy pre- and post-emergence hair.

Nutrients for Hair Growth and Oxidative Stress

Hair growth and protection against oxidative stress requires optimal levels of vitamin D, iron, vitamins A, C, E, B vitamins, biotin, zinc, copper, calcium, magnesium, selenium, and silica. In addition, the amino acids lysine, methionine, and L-cysteine, as well as phyto-nutrients like saw palmetto, panax ginseng,(CA Myer) resveratrol, are helpful. These nutrients provide a variety of support such as blood flow to the scalp, provide substrates for growth, and/or provide antioxidant protection to the hair follicle and surrounding tissues.

Coenzyme Q10 supports and protects mitochondria activity. Case reports show evidence of coenzyme Q10’s protection against drug-induced side effects of hair loss related with mitochondrial damage. Organic apples, garlic, coffee beans, and peppers have also been shown to protect hair follicles from oxidative stress.


The Standard American Diet with processed foods lacks adequate amounts of these nutrients. Individuals with limited diets, vegan lifestyle, gastric bypass or bariatric surgery, poor digestion and absorption, etc. may have difficulty obtaining optimal and necessary nutrients to protect their hair against oxidative stress and support hair growth.

Choose a whole foods diet rich in variety with adequate protein (50-80 grams/day), unrefined whole grains, preferably gluten-free, and at least 5-9 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables per day.

Supplemental Support

Iron is the world’s most common nutrient deficiency and is required for hair growth. Check your serum ferritin levels to measure your iron status. If you are iron deficient, use iron bisglycinate which is highly absorbable form of iron that is gentle on your stomach. It is found in Blood Booster.

Basic and In-Depth Support

Hair growth is an energy, nutrient demanding activity in your body. If your hair is looking great with all of today’s stressors, keep up the good work!

The Daily Supplement Package covers many basic needs for antioxidant support, vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, and minerals for hair growth and general purpose daily needs. Collagen Peptides may be readily added to this regime for hair structure support.

For more in-depth support of hair loss and manage significant oxidative stress, hair follicle protection, and mitochondria consider such as BEAUTY, Sulfur Plus, Strengthener Plus, Performa Plus, Saw Palmetto, Resveratrol Ultra, and/or Super Coenzyme 10 Ubiquinol.

If life stress has caused hormone related hair loss, consider Thyroid Helper, Adrenal Helper, and/or Stress Helper.
Consider Digestive Helper if you have poor digestion, absorption, and/or gluten intolerance leading to hair loss.

More information about hair loss and grey hair may be found at

Losing Your Hair? Nutritional Status Matters

Hair Loss Disorder Alopecia Areata Linked to Thyroid, Celiac, Methylation

Premature Gray Hair? Check Your Nutrition

Hair changes provide an outside look at the stress inside your body. How thick and shiny is your hair?

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