Hair Loss Prevention 101

Published June 24, 2011

| Askmen.com

As we age, our bodies inevitably age with us. As men, we can look forward to beer bellies, bushels of ear hair and, of course, baldness. Though men like to think that they'll have a full head of hair well past their primes, reality tells a different story. By the age of 35, about two-thirds of men will experience some appreciable hair loss while nearly 85 percent of men will have significantly thinning hair by the age of 50. It's not all bad news, though. There are ways that you can slow a receding hairline, so sit tight as AskMen gives you a crash course. Welcome to Hair Loss Prevention 101.

What causes hair loss?

Although hair loss can be blamed on your mom and dad (i.e., genetics) there are other causes—preventable ones—that include nutritional deficiency, infection, prescription drugs, chemical hair products, and even emotional stress. Taking care of these, while focusing on ways to stimulate growth, should keep you well ahead of the pack in your hair-loss-prevention quest.

Eat more fish

Not only are fish loaded with protein and minerals, but they’re also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Both nutrients have been linked to preventing hair loss in chemotherapy patients. That holding true for healthy men hasn’t really been studied, but both nutrients offer a host of other health benefits so there should be nothing stopping you from including more fish in your diet.

Keep your iron levels in check

Iron-deficiency anemia, which is more common in women, is a well-known cause of unexpected hair loss, but the loss may be so slight that you barely notice it. Adding some iron-rich foods to your diet like pumpkin seeds, quinoa or tofu may help if you run into any problems. This is particularly important if you’re a vegetarian looking into hair loss prevention, since it can be harder to get enough iron when you have to avoid red meats or eggs.

Don’t forget your vitamin B

Also important for hair growth are B vitamins biotin, folate, B2, and B12. In fact, some, like biotin, are so important that they’re prescribed alongside medical treatments for hair loss (like Rogaine). If you think you’re lacking vitamin B or any nutrient for that matter (like iron), speak to your doctor before you get yourself tested or go down the supplements route. An even simpler solution is to structure your diet accordingly, although getting enough biotin may be a challenge.
Manage your stress

At any one time, about 85 percent of the hair on your head is in its growing phase while 15 percent is in its final “death” stages. Amazingly, certain stressful events can actually produce a "shock to the system" that alters this natural cycle causing as much as 30–40 percent of the hairs to start to die. The result: three months later, you start to shed like a dog does its coat. Although the events that cause these are usually major life stressors, like a severe illness, it’s possible that chronic, prolonged stress could have a similar, though lesser, effect. Finding ways to manage stress should therefore be a top priority for any man stressing to find ways to prevent hair loss.

Read the labels of your prescription drugs

Most men know that chemotherapy can induce hair loss, but most are unaware that there are plenty of prescription drugs that can cause hair loss as well. Blood thinners like warfarin, arthritic medications and psychiatric drugs like lithium are just a few examples of prescription meds that can induce hair loss. If a full head of hair is important to you, one easy tip to prevent baldness is to be sure to read the labels of all prescription drugs before you take them.

Keep up on personal hygiene

Though it’s not exactly a direct cause of hair loss, a general lack of personal hygiene can lead to fungal scalp infections like tinea capitis that result in patchy hair loss. By keeping your scalp and hair clean through regular shampooing, you’ll prevent any fungal infections and help prevent baldness in the process—but don’t overdo it. Too much shampooing can damage the sebaceous glands of the scalp that make sebum, which naturally moisturizes the hair and skin.

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More from AskMen.com:

Hair Loss Myths Debunked 

Solutions For Hair Loss 

Top 10: Hairstyles For Thinning Hair 

Hair Loss Questions & Answers 

Balding Remedies _________________________________________________________________________

Don't hesitate to see your doctor

It’s a message that’s been said time and again, but once more won’t hurt: don’t hesitate to see your local dermatologist. Even about balding, and don’t be embarrassed. There is no question that you could possibly ask that hasn’t been asked before. Your doctor might not have all the answers, but they will be able to guide you through being tested if you’re concerned about a nutritional deficiency, and they can subsequently recommend the proper supplements if one is identified. Your doctor should also be able to provide guidance on any of the other topics we’ve outlined here.

Exercise regularly

Of all the tips to prevent baldness out there, regular exercise is arguably the most important -- at least when talking about your body as a whole, hair included. Exercise helps to relieve stress and improves circulation to the skin. Sweat, a byproduct of exercise, also helps the skin by flushing out impurities from the surface. While there hasn’t been much, if any, research on the impact of exercise on balding, look at it this way: it’s not like it will hurt your chances of holding onto your hair.

To baldly go where many men have gone before

Nothing in life is certain—even baldness. Although your genes will inevitably have the final say of whether or not there will be hair on your head at 40, don’t go down without a fight! Even if you do eventually lose the battle, you’ll be joining a club with millions upon millions of members, and who knows? Maybe you’ll stumble upon a few perks! Some women even think bald is sexy.

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