S2 E9: Getting to the root cause of hair loss

In this episode, we are taking a deep dive into what causes hair loss and how we can support healthy hair. As with most things related to women’s health, the topic of hair loss is complicated.  Rarely is there a sole reason for hair loss. For example, hypothyroidism and inadequate thyroid hormone levels are among the most common causes of hair loss. The underlying question then becomes what is causing the hypothyroidism?  More often than not, it is not merely one cause.  There are a few things to consider, such as the individual’s nutrition, lifestyle, and stress level.  Are they eating enough?  Are they consuming enough nutrient-dense foods?  Do they have a nutrient deficiency that isn’t being met by their current diet?  How stressed are they?  Cortisol, a stress hormone, directly blocks the conversion of thyroid hormone.  When it comes to supporting healthy hair and healing hair loss, we have to consider several different areas, which is what we are going to get into in this episode. 
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Episode 2: Nourishing Nutrition Foundation
Episode 6: Copper and Iron
Episode 8: Supplements That Do More Harm Than Good
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Iodine hair loss blog
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Amanda Montalvo 0:00
Hey, this is Amanda Women’s Health dietitian.

Emily 0:03
And I’m Emily nutritional therapy practitioner. And this is

Amanda Montalvo 0:06
the RU menstrual podcast where we help you navigate the confusing world of women’s hormones in teach you how to have healthy periods.

Emily 0:12
Each week, we will be diving into a different topic on women’s health and sharing our perspective using nutrition, female physiology and metabolic health.

Amanda Montalvo 0:20
Our goal is to help you wade through conflicting health information and empower you on your healing journey.

Emily 0:25
We hope you enjoy it.

Amanda Montalvo 0:37
All right, in this episode, we are taking a deep dive into what causes hair loss and how we can support healthy hair growth. And it’s one of those things where, like most women’s health issues, it’s more complicated, it’s a little bit more complex than we might prefer. Rarely is there one sole reason for hair loss, it is usually multiple things that are feeding into that main issue. And if I take a really common example that I see with hair loss in that’s hypothyroidism. And so say you are not making adequate thyroid hormone. So the main thing we think about is like, Okay, well, I’ll just take thyroid hormone, and then I shouldn’t have any more hair loss issues. But the underlying question then becomes what’s driving the hypothyroidism, right? More often than not, it’s not just one thing, there are a few different areas you want to consider like, what’s that person eating? Are they getting enough food in in general, are they getting nutrient dense foods, maybe they have a nutrient deficiency, that it’s actually impacting how their thyroid is functioning. So just taking the thyroid hormone might not solve all the problems. And then of course, stress plays a huge role in how we are making and utilizing thyroid hormone. So we don’t want to ignore that either, especially if you don’t see any improvement or as much improvement as you might have wanted by taking thyroid hormone. So that’s just one quick example how layered this topic can get in, it’s why we want to take into consideration all the different areas. And when it comes to supporting healthy hair and just stopping that hair loss. There’s a few main ones we really want to consider. And that’s what we’re going to go through in this episode. I have been there if you are someone that’s struggling with hair loss right now, I know that it is terrible. It’s I think it was like top 10 One of the scariest things that like has ever happened to me health wise, because I didn’t know why it was happening. I mean, now I know. But at the time I did, and I came off the pill. And a few months later, I was getting like lots of shedding. And I always had long hair. So I always had like a good amount of hair that was falling out. But I was kind of in this place where I’m like, This feels like a little bit of normal. And then I would look at my scalp and be like I can see my scalp more and it was scary. You know, you’re kind of like what’s going on. And then of course, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, PCOS, all this stuff post pill. And I was like, Okay, well, this will definitely fix the hair loss, like my doctor was like, you’re probably losing your hair related to the hypothyroidism. So you’ll take thyroid hormone, and you’ll be fine. Turns out, the thyroid hormone made my hair loss worse. And if another few months later, I started shedding even more. And I was like freaking out. Like I thought this was to help what’s happening. And of course, like the hair loss timeline is a tricky one. And anyone that has experienced hair loss is going to understand this because it can take three to four months for you to see that shedding occur, especially like a good amount at once. And that’s just because of how our hair follicles grow. And so the hair loss now isn’t, it’s typically not always something that is from something immediate. It’s taking place from something that happened to you a few months ago, which if you don’t have a health background, you’re probably not going to think about that. And I feel like even if you do your first instinct is to think about what the heck did I do recently, you know, and that’s very normal. But it just makes this whole timeline much more difficult. So of course, I’m like trying to figure out what’s going on. I thought it was related to my hormones at the time and my thyroid just because that’s what I was struggling with the most and trying to, I don’t want to say fix, but like, get a handle on and figure out like what was going to work for me. And I was ignoring all these basic things, like, the first thing we’re going to talk about is energy intake, which it sounds so simple, but hair growth is such an energy demanding process, that while we feel like it’s very essential for our bodies, it’s not so it’s not looked at that way. So think about it this way. If you’re not eating enough food, and then your body doesn’t have enough energy saved this is happening for a prolonged period of time. And your body has to prioritize where the energy is going to go. It’s always gonna prioritize keeping you alive. So, unfortunately, having nice healthy hair is not going to keep you alive. So that energy gets diverted. And then you start to see hair loss, maybe like four, three to four months later, maybe even longer. But for most people, it’s gonna be that like three to four months later. And you’re you, it’s really easy to miss that connection of like, how I’ve been under eating lately, you know, in the last few months, like, that’s typically not the first place your brain is going to go to. So while we feel like it’s essential, our bodies have a different opinion. And all that energy is going to go somewhere else, it’s similar to like, our nails and our skin, like I feel like hair loss happens. And then I often will hear from women that their nails break really easily, or they’re peeling a ton. They’re having skin troubles. I mean, I was definitely dealing with a ton of acne and stuff at the time, I have white spots all over my nails. And it was one of those things where I just wasn’t putting two and two together were like, maybe, maybe I’m not eating enough. And I haven’t been eating enough for a long time. And my body’s been under so much stress. And then I stopped taking the pill, it’s like, ultimately, some big event happens, right? Like our bodies can only handle so much stress and how much they can handle is going to really depend on the person. But eventually we get to that breaking point. And for me, it was when I came off the pill and I was trying to try like different medications and things to see if that would help with getting my period back and supporting my thyroid and all that stuff and my skin. And so I kind of hit that that’s when I really hit that breaking point. So if you are struggling with hair loss, you want to think about what does your history look like, like your stress type of history, I was definitely under eating all of high school for sure. And then I found exercise like weightlifting. And eventually I found CrossFit. And even though I would say I wasn’t under eating as much as a lot of like my friends were and I’d seen people doing like extreme diets, I definitely was not eating enough food for the amount of activity that I was doing. And it got worse, the better and better that I got at CrossFit and I went to college and I joined the rowing team. So then I’m doing rowing strength and conditioning sessions during the week and then I’m on top of that I was still doing CrossFit so and then I decided I’m going to get off the field I’m not going to do anything to prepare my body for it. So it all really added up but energy intake is always something that we have to consider. And it’s usually the last one that people go to I mean for me I think it was truly the last one because I was like this is a hormone thing this is not a food thing. I eat really well there’s no way but when I started to dig into this further again it was really the last stop on the train for me even though it should have been the first one I realized I’m definitely not eating enough I didn’t even realize how active I was because I enjoyed everything I was doing. I really did and so it was hard to take a step back and have that really like objective look at my nutrition and fitness and was I overdoing it and under fueling and under recovering for me it was and it was a major stressor and I think that’s what really led to me not doing well when I came off the pill and having thyroid issues and having not getting my period back for a while. So now if I if I were doing this all again and I could go back in time and have the knowledge I have now I would ask myself is my body getting enough energy just in general to fuel my regular vital functions? Right? And the answer would have been no. The second question would have been Am I using that energy properly? Because my thyroid was not working well and I was not making adequate thyroid hormone not utilizing it well the answer of course would have also been no so this is probably one of the most overlooked areas but we can’t ignore it. And the some of the things like hair loss is one of the first signs of like not eating is usually not the first it’s usually you have many before that but you’ve been ignoring them because they weren’t bad enough and then your hair falls out and you’re like okay, this is really bad. I have to figure this out. So some of the other signs that you could experience along with hair loss or before her loss that are some indicators that you are not eating enough are things like feeling cold all the time. Very normal to hear women say I’m always cold or I’m easily cold I was always cold and like that’s not and I thought that’s just how I was because I had a lot of friends who also said the same thing and so I just thought it was my norm. Turns out I was hypothyroid and under fueling my body and over exercising what a surprise so feeling cold all the time I had skin issues that’s another big one. An unhealthy nails like if your nails are breaking easy if they’re appealing. poor appetite. I even though I was so active, I just did not have a good appetite. Sometimes I would but like I never wanted to eat before practice in the morning which is terrible. cuz you’re gonna be rowing for hours, it’s like you need fuel, and then things or like really, really strong cravings. And then I would like, especially at night, I would, you know, my body’s been doing stuff all day I’ve been going to classes working. And then it’s finally like, Okay, you haven’t fed me enough, I’m ravenous. And then I would like want to eat everything. So kind of going to those extremes, I didn’t measure my basal body temperature at the time. But that’s another really big sign. If you have a low body temperature. Again, if you’re cold all the time, you’re probably gonna have a low body temperature. So having a body temperature that’s below 97.8, in that follicular phase, and in luteal phase two, if you’re not like on the pill, or any hormonal birth control or anything, but I was before all this, so I wasn’t tracking any of that. And then your pulse. If you have a really low pulse, that’s another sign that your metabolism is conserving energy, right, it’s not utilizing that energy, our pulse, our heart rate, that’s how we are getting blood flow, oxygen and nutrients to tissues. So if that is very low, it’s actually not a good thing. So those are some really big ones. And then sleep, sleep is probably like, I feel like one of the really big ones that I see change the quickest for people if they’re not eating enough food. So if you’re having difficulty falling asleep, or staying asleep, if you’re waking up multiple times throughout the night, all those things are going to be major signs, like you’re probably not getting enough food into your body. And you would want to at least like either make some changes. If you don’t want to track your food. If you just want to experiment with eating a little bit more and seeing how your body does, that’s fine. I like tracking because I want to see the data like I’m just a very data driven person. So like in episode two of the first season of the podcast, the nourishing nutrition foundation will link it in the show notes, we talk about total daily energy expenditure and what that means. It’s really like all your vital organs, how much energy those require plus any like movement, activity exercise on top of it, and all those things add up to our total daily energy expenditure. So basically, if we think about that, you want to track your food for four to five days in an app like chronometer, that’s my favorite one, because it shows you all your micronutrients as well. And then from there, you can see like, am I eating close to my total daily energy expenditure it gives you it’s a calculator, so you put your info in. And then again, we talked about it in that episode in detail. So I would go listen to that. But you put your info and you compare what your tracking is, I would look at like an average of like four or five days. Compare that to your total daily energy expenditure, and are you eating enough if you are not eating at that total daily energy expenditure. Even if you have other things that I’m going to go through, when it comes to hair loss, I still would say, you want to focus on that one first. Because it’s the most foundational, if we don’t have enough energy, even working on hormones and stuff, one, it’s not going to go well, and then two, it’s going to be difficult to see any changes. So step one would be that and then another kind of important area to consider is your stress level. So one thing that happens when our bodies are under a lot of stress. And this could be like, a stressful season of your life, like college was very stressful for me. So I even even if I did calculations, I would have needed even more than what I calculated because of the amount of stress that I was under. So we all go through those times, maybe it’s like starting a new job, maybe it’s having a baby, maybe it’s moving to any sort of big life change. Or if you’re just really have a lot on your plate at one time, that is going to add to your stress, that’s actually going to increase the amount of energy that your body needs. So we want to keep that in mind when we’re thinking about am I eating enough? You might be eating or total daily energy expenditure. But if you still have all those symptoms of like feeling cold, frequently, skin issues that hair loss than your nails are breaking easily or peeling.

having issues with sleeping, mood issues, not having energy fatigue, brain fog, all those things, then that’s that’s those are still signs, you might need more food than what you’re taking in. And then that’s when I would think about what is my stress like because that would increase your nutrient needs, especially carbohydrates. So those are just a few things to keep in mind. But step one is going to be assessing your energy intake, are you even taking in enough energy to support hair growth? If not, that is going to be a huge contributor to your hair loss. So while our energies big, what is another huge area that I focus on with the women that I work with? That I really started to hone in on myself. And if I could go back in time now would be a major focus that would be micronutrients for hair health and growth. Eating enough we like step one, you got to check that off your list, make sure you’re addressing it. We also talk about macros in that episode too. So make sure you listen then to that about balancing your meals, but what you’re eating matters, too. It’s not just like, how much energy can I get from food, you also want to think about? What is that food made up of? What are the micronutrients and those are just nutrients we need in small amounts, vitamins and minerals in that food. And a lot of the times we’re not meeting the needs of certain micronutrients, and then that will trickle down and impact different systems in the body. So this is like I mentioned iron, like, oh my gosh, I remember the first thing my doctor wanted to do was put me on iron, thyroid hormone. And I think it was I want to say, like a fish oil supplement for PCOS, because they thought it was inflammatory based because I was at a healthy weight. So they didn’t think it was like, necessarily insulin related. So honestly, that’s even impressive that they thought that way. And recognize that there’s different types. But anyway, so what’s the deal with iron? Isn’t that an important micronutrient for hair loss? Yes. But if, if you’re new here, you’ll think, okay, so why don’t we just take iron Amanda, what’s going on? If you’ve been here for a while, then you know, okay, so iron is important that that means we have to think about copper and vitamin A, because we did a whole episode in Season One. I think it’s episode six. And it’s all about copper and iron. I’ll link it in the show notes. Six. Yeah. So we’ll make sure that that’s there for you if you want to go back and listen, but I’m going to give you like a quick, brief rundown now. So yes, iron is important. Iron helps us make red blood cells and our red blood cells carry oxygen, and nutrients to different tissues in the body. Similar, it sounds like that heart rate thing again, right? Like, how do we get more nutrients to different parts of the body? Iron is important. But what helps us make iron in the body? What helps us utilize iron, that’s copper and vitamin A. And copper also is really important for red blood cells as well. I feel like it doesn’t get enough, like credit for that. But it is, and it helps us utilize iron properly. So basically, we have this iron recycling system in our bodies. And instead of it’s not just like any regular mineral, it’s I would say it’s special. Like it’s I’m not saying iron is bad, I’m saying we need to just make sure that we can actually use it in the body. So we make Iron 24 milligrams every single day. That’s what this iron recycling system does. If we don’t have enough copper and vitamin A, then we can’t control the enzymes that help us do that and help us move iron around in the body. So I’m not necessarily saying that copper moves it around. It’s more that copper fuels these enzymes, which are just like little helpers, that help carry out the different processes of different functions in the body. We’re specifically talking about iron recycling. So we need copper, but we need copper in a special form called Cirilo plasma, and how do we get it there? Vitamin A. So copper plus vitamin A equals iron movement in the body. And that helps get this iron recycling system going. So if we’re making 24 milligrams of iron a day, adding more iron isn’t necessarily going to help the the whole issue, right? You would want to think about, Am I really is it really an anemia issue? I know, my ferritin was low, and they’re like you’re anemic. But then like my hemoglobin was amazing. And I was in dietetics. School. So I’m like, that’s, like makes sense. And my serum iron was fine. So I’m like, if I’m anemic, how come my hemoglobin and my iron and my CBC and everything looked totally fine. Minus the ferritin on the iron panel, like, it just didn’t make sense. And I was like, I eat so much meat, I have a ton of iron rich foods. Like I just don’t think this is possible. And I thought maybe I have a gut health issue. And I’m not absorbing the iron. But it was one of those things where thank God, like, I just felt like I’m like, this is not the problem. And I feel like they’re just trying to get me something so that I stopped bothering them. Because I was, I mean, I was not like the easiest patient. I was annoyed. I was pissed that my hair still falling out. And then I wasn’t responding well to thyroid meds and that no one could tell me why. And so I just felt like the iron was a bandaid. I didn’t take it. I’m so grateful for that. Because now I know that that would have actually created a lot more inflammation in my body, it probably would have made my skin worse, which was already bad enough. So intuitively, I knew. Some people kind of feel this way too. I get a lot of people that reach out to me and they’re like, I just My doctor told me to take iron but I looked at some of my other labs and I just like I don’t really think that’s the problem. With hair loss, though. It’s usually the first thing thrown at you. They’re like, Oh, you need more iron because it’s important for hair growth. But what controls iron in your body copper and vitamin A. So how can we get copper? beef liver, you’ve heard me talk about it many times before. Your beef liver is a great source of copper and vitamin A. So it’s going to give you both you can also get copper from things like cacao, oysters, seafood, whole food, vitamin C, like citrus is great. And then liquid chlorophyll is a really great source of copper as well. But remember, if you’re only doing things like cacao, and oysters, and citrus and liquid chlorophyll, and you don’t have a beef liver or a vitamin A source, that’s not necessarily always going to help. We have to We can’t ignore the vitamin APs. And at this time, I was

dead dairy free. So I was paleo doing all this stuff. So that contributed to my under eating, of course. And I wasn’t really getting vitamin A and I was not a huge beef liver person, then I would try to eat it sometimes. But I did not supplement with it at the time. And so I was not really getting a ton of copper and vitamin A at all in my diet. And I think that was probably a big contributor. I don’t know how my hemoglobin was still so good. But I mean, I’m sure I was getting some from like, I was still eating meat and eggs and stuff like that. But either way, like my ferritin was technically low, I think it was like 25 ish, 25 to like 30. They said it needed to be closer to 80 for hair growth. And I’m like, I don’t know, this just it just didn’t feel right. Because I’m like, Well, I felt my thyroid was the issue, you know? So why is why? Why are we now separating my thyroid and my hair loss? Why? Why don’t we just address everything together? So copper, vitamin A are important. If you have iron issues, if you have low serum iron, low hemoglobin, hemoglobin has 70% of our iron. So it’s a great way to assess iron status. And are you using iron in the body? And ferritin is just one piece of the puzzle. But it’s not everything. And it’s not everything for hair loss, despite what people tell you. So you want to think about am I getting those copper rich foods in my diet? Am I getting vitamin A in my diet, which we’re going to be primarily getting from things like dairy, beef, liver, eggs, if you’re not eating any of those foods, then you’re probably not getting enough. And so that could be a time when you want to think about supplementing with beef liver. Or at least like some or maybe eating beef liver, chicken, liver, duck, liver, those are all great options that’s going to like increase that in your diet. And of course, like dairy eggs, that sort of thing. Vitamin is also really important for thyroid health. So I feel like doesn’t get mentioned enough for that. And I think it was another big contributor to my thyroid issues, especially like post pill. So yes, iron is important. But how do we use iron copper and vitamin A, magnesium was another really big one. Particularly for our hair, we actually need enough magnesium to convert vitamin D. If you listen to the supplement episode of supplements, I don’t recommend taking vitamin D is one of those. It’s nuanced. It’s not listen to the episode if you’re confused. Um, another one I’ll have to put in the show notes. But basically, taking vitamin D is not the same as getting it from the sun or from food, our bodies have to still have to convert it do all these things we need magnesium for that. And a lot of times people are deficient in magnesium, they can’t convert vitamin D. And they’re not getting enough vitamin A to activate the vitamin D receptors. And we can’t produce that energy and that hair growth requires energy. So we need enough magnesium, it’s also going to help us have a healthy stress response and be more resilient to stress. Because we’re always gonna have stress, it’s not about getting rid of the stress, it’s about creating that resiliency so that you can tolerate it better. So magnesium is huge. I really like magnesium bicarbonate sources, that’s going to be the most natural form found in nature in water. And you can make that yourself you get a magnesium hydroxide powder and mix with carbonated water boom, you have mag bicarbonate. You could also I really like mitigate stress is a great brand. They have a master mineral drink and it also has potassium and a little bit of sodium in it. So it’s a nice mix of those three minerals. It’s not a lot of sodium though, so it doesn’t replace the journal cocktails because I know people will ask but it’s an if you don’t want to make your own. There’s this also so concentrated like I’ll make whale magnesium bicarbonate and there’s like 80 milligrams of magnesium and an ounce but the way that they make theirs it’s like you only need to take like half to one ounce and it’s like over 300 milligrams so I tend to get theirs because I have to take less of it. And I don’t always want to make it but you can make it yourself magnesium glycinate very calming. I love taking that before bed, magnesium Malley. A lot of people do really well with that. And then magnesium three and eight and magnesium Tory, they’re also great. They’re not that everyone kind of reacts differently. Those but those are the top ones that I would say experiment with three and eight. It can be really good for your brain unhealth is it can pass that blood brain barrier. And then Tory can be good for liver health. So, you know, experiment, find what works for you. You can also do topical magnesium Epsom salt baths, you can do a spray. They make magnesium lotion though, you can get it from food but not definitely I would say you still probably need to supplement with it because it’s hard to get enough from food but like chocolate, cacao, and leafy greens cooked, of course, are gonna have great sources of magnesium. So that’s another really big one. And then vitamin E. Vitamin E is huge, and it’s one of those that it helps protect our body from stress. Very powerful antioxidant. It’s anti inflammatory. It’s also a natural inhibitor of male hormones. And it’s like an aromatase inhibitor. So it can help prevent that conversion of androgens to estrogens and vice versa. Vitamin A you can get from food, but it’s hard to get enough from food because typically it’s going to be high in things like nuts and seeds. Those foods are also high in polyunsaturated fats, that’s why they contain vitamin E, because the vitamin E protects us from the possible inflammation from those fats that oxidize very easily. So it is one that I do recommend if you can do things like mangoes, certain foods have a good amount of vitamin E that are not nuts and seeds. But supplementing with it is it can be really helpful for hair loss. So you would find try to find a high quality supplement. I will also put that in the show notes for you guys. There’s a few different brands that I like integrative Therapeutics is great unique e mixed tocopherols and then Mitel life makes a great Vitamin E that’s a little bit of a higher dose. So if you’re if you think it’s a hormone related, like I they were like you have high androgens male hormones. If I had known then that vitamin E was an aromatase inhibitor and helped with that, I would have taken it I did end up taking it later in my healing journey to help with my skin. So it all worked out. But I would say that’s can be like a really helpful one to supplement with magnesium. And then like if you’re not going to eat beef liver or vitamin A sources, then you would want to take beef liver. But ideally, we’re getting a lot of these from our diets. Because then we’ll we’ll get it on a regular basis in great amounts and consistently and will absorb it well. Another big one is B vitamins B vitamins are important for energy production. They also help us make red blood cells. And remember those carry oxygen and nutrients to support scalp and hair, scalp health and hair growth. And some of the best sources are like beef liver, again, any meat is going to have a pretty good abundance of B vitamins and eggs, seafood, dairy products, like any sort of animal product is going to have a good amount of B vitamins, and then vitamin C. So like Vitamin E, powerful antioxidant, really helpful anti inflammatory agent. Vitamin D is also a powerful antioxidant. And it helps protect us from stress, it also helps us make collagen. And that can help strengthen our scalp and our actual hair follicles. So we want to think about am I getting enough vitamin C rich foods in my diet, citrus is probably going to be the highest and easiest way to get it but any fruit is going to help. Right? We also get vitamin C from things like leafy greens and potatoes, I always recommend cooking those things. So you do lose some of it. But it doesn’t mean that it’s not there. And then of course I always talking about adrenal cocktails. So you can you’re gonna there’s going to be vitamin C and a general cocktails as well, like ideally, vitamin C from food. Hey, Amanda here, just giving you a quick break, hopefully a break for your brain in the middle of this podcast episode to remind you that if you haven’t gone through our free training, optimizing hormone health or mineral balance, we really do recommend starting there. And the main reason for that is because you’re going to hear us say things like mineral foundation, having a solid foundation or you putting the foundations in place, especially what was we get deeper and deeper into different hormonal topics and specific imbalances in the body, the the mineral foundation is always going to be so essential. So if you haven’t watched the free training, you can find it in our show notes. Or you can go to hormone healing rd.com. And it’s going to be right on that front page there. But we really recommend starting there so you can understand how is your current mineral status? How do you assess this and how to get started with all that just so you can get as much as you possibly can out of the rest of the podcast episodes. But that’s it. I hope you enjoy the rest of this episode. People asked me a lot about vitamin C supplements. If you’re not eating any food that has vitamin C, that’s one that concerns me.

But too if you feel like you need more or you want to experiment with it, I always get a whole food supplement because hopefully Vitamin C is so different from like ascorbic acid which is what most vitamin C supplements are made out of. I would say Try to get it from food. If you feel like you really need a supplement, on my website in my store, I have a pure radiants Vitamin C powder that I do like, but again, like try to get from food, and then sodium kind of a random one. But it’s really important for iodine, which is the last one I’m going to talk about, because it’s very special important when it comes to hair health and hair loss. But sodium is big for a few reasons, one stress, right, our adrenals needed to respond to stress appropriately. So if we’re not getting enough, that’s going to play a big role. It’s also important for insulin resistance and making ourselves sensitive to that insulin, it’s important for heart health and blood pressure, and having a healthy pulse and heart rate. And it’s it’s kind of pairs with potassium, where it helps us absorb and utilize potassium, which is important for thyroid health, blood sugar balance, so many different things. But the other big thing that sodium does is it helps us transport iodine. And iodine is one of those where I’m like why do more people not talk about this for hair health. It for me, it was probably the biggest i One of the biggest like game changers, amongst like eating more food, adding dairy back into my diet, and just calming myself down like exercise wise. And trying to relieve that stress a bit. I would say iodine was huge, but we can’t even utilize iodine properly if we don’t have certain cofactors like sodium, like magnesium like vitamin C, and certain B vitamins. So I kind of went through all of these purposely and left iodine last because everyone’s gonna say oh my gosh, I have hair loss, I’m going to start supplementing with iodine police, please do not do this, this is not going to be helpful if your body is not prepared to use iodine. I’m going to do a whole episode on iodine and talk about how you can test your iodine levels. That kind of stuff. i We did talk about it in the episode that I did with Kaylee on thyroid health, though. So if you want to go back to that the beginning of season two, we do talk about iodine. Quite a bit it and testing and that sort of thing. But iodine is important for hair growth because it helps us make thyroid hormone. So if you are someone that maybe your thyroid labs are normal, but you maybe you’re like nerdy and you’re like you know what I’m going to take this into my own hands. And I’m going to compare my lab work to the free content that a managers on the internet and I have shared the optimal levels for thyroid many, many times I we also talked about it in that episode that I did with Kaylee. And I have a webinar that by the time this comes out, I will already have done that goes into so much. It’s all about thyroid. And we talked about it in that one too. So go watch the replay of that if you want to dig more into this thyroid, iodine like bloodwork piece. But basically if you’re like okay, I looked up what the optimal levels of thyroid bloodwork are, versus mine. And it turns out that mine are not optimal. They may not be terrible. So this would typically be referred to as subclinical hypothyroidism. And it’s when it’s not bad enough to give you medication for it. But your thyroid function not good enough to support things like hair growth and energy production and all that because our thyroid really sets that metabolic pace of our body. And so we don’t want to forget how important that is, especially if we think of how our hair requires energy. If our thyroid is slowing that energy production down and conserving it, then of course our hair is going to we’re going to show up with some hair loss. So iodine is huge because I and helps us make thyroid hormone. So if you have low free T four, and low free T three, those are direct signs that you have, you’re likely deficient in iodine because free T fours made for iodine molecules and true d3 is made up of three iodine molecules. So iodine is important but so are so many other minerals. So is eating enough all these things I’m talking about for hair loss, guess what they also apply for thyroid health, which makes this so much easier. Iodine is huge. We need it to make thyroid hormone correcting an iodine deficiency is going to help you make more thyroid hormone, but it can also help improve your metabolism and how much energy you’re making overall. So those things like feeling cold all the time tend to go away. Your hair health, skin health. Now health will typically improve energy brain cognition typically improves. Sleep often improves, like when we can fix our metabolism and thyroid that a lot of things will follow because again, they set that pace for your body and they’re going to impact every single system. Iodine can be a huge underlying cause and 60% of I think it was like six The percent of menstruating women of childbearing age are deficient in iodine, which is huge. And that’s in the US that’s not like in other countries that’s in the US. And iodine levels have gone down a ton over the last 40 years in the US. And you might be thinking, what if I use iodized salt, the iodine, the elemental iodine that’s in iodized salt evaporates very quickly. So there’s actually not that much iodine in that salt. And most of us are using sea salt anyway. So a lot of times, it’s really easy to get deficient in iodine and have that happen. And it just doesn’t always pop up and affect you right away. But if you have, like I said before, that like perfect storm of stress and like life stuff going on, and it just it can, your body hits his breaking point where it can’t compensate anymore. And then that iodine deficiency can become a big issue if you’re struggling with hair loss and thyroid health. So iodine is important. I’m basically obsessed with it, which is why we’re going to do a whole episode on it. I’m calling it like the miracle mineral, because it does so many different things like it’s important for thyroid health, but it’s also like really helpful for estrogen detoxification, and for excess estrogen in the body. It’s also antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, like it’s pretty amazing how much we used to use iodine for that we don’t necessarily use it for anymore. That I feel like we could. There’s actually a great book I have right here. It’s called healing with iodine. Can you see it if I put in front my face.

So it’s called the healing with iodine. It’s by Dr. Mark sircus. With an S. And Dr. David Brownstein also has some amazing books on iodine and thyroid health, if you want to dig into those more. But this book in particular talks about how we used to use iodine is like an antibiotic, we used to use it topically it was kind of like the go to for so many different things because it has so many different properties that it’s helpful for. And so when I think of hair health, I think of obviously thyroid because we need to make thyroid hormone. But I also think of things like if people are having issues with fungal issues on their scalp, like using iodine topically, there’s a lot of really cool research and people just sharing their stories around how using iodine topically really helped with their hair loss. Now, I never actually tried this because I didn’t know about it then and I was using it orally to help with my thyroid. And if you listen to my pregnancy podcast, you’ll know that I am still taking iodine, I’ve taken it all throughout pregnancy, it’s probably something that I will take for free pretty much forever, kind of depending on what my levels look like, at least like in small amounts forever. Because I don’t I just don’t know how people get enough from their diet unless you’ve like completely replenished your levels. And then eventually, maybe, but unless you live in like Japan, you’re probably not going to get enough from your diet. So basically, iodine you can use internally if you need it to support your thyroid. But please don’t just take iodine, I’m not recommending that you should really work with a practitioner, I talked about exactly how to utilize iodine in my course, how to test for it, and my master minerals course and how to use the cofactors first, so that you can use the iodine properly and don’t cause any issues in your body. So that’s like one thing, but you can use it topically. It’s also been shown to be great topic is a topical source. If you have UTIs yeast infections, it’s really interesting, but a lot of people have shared about using a topically on their scalp and how that’s helped with hair loss, especially with alopecia in particular, which I thought was interesting. Because that I was like I didn’t really think that wasn’t necessarily iodine deficiency related. But this one I’ll link the blog post in there but this one specific it’s a guy but I still think it’s cool. He had like patches all over his head and he was using topical iodine for like over I think it was like eight months. But even after a few months, he took progress pictures, and there was a ton of regrowth and then it was completely grown back after I think it was like eight or nine months which is amazing. And that’s like pretty fast for hair, hair stuff because remember that growth and loss period is three four months. So to see that kind of a change is really significant. So that’s micronutrients copper, vitamin A help us utilize iron, magnesium, sodium, Vitamin C helps us have a healthy stress response Vitamin E powerful anti inflammatory opposes certain hormones. B vitamins help us make red blood cells to transport nutrients to ourselves. And then iodine does basically everything. Alright, now for an exciting section that I feel like I get the most questions around when it comes to hair loss is hormonal changes and imbalances that can contribute to hair loss. So the most common hormonal imbalance us associated with hair loss is DHT. And that is a male hormone. It’s an androgen that is very strong. So if we think about it, like, if I see high DHT on a Dutch hormone panel, then I tend to think of hair loss or hair growth, you know that it can also contribute to that acne, more of those like androgen type symptoms that women with PCOS can see if they have high androgens. But what’s interesting is that the research shows that even when we block DHT, so like there’s certain medications that you can use to block it. Hair loss doesn’t improve. And more importantly, hair growth, hair growth doesn’t occur. So it’s kind of like, wait a second is this. If this is the main issue, then how come it doesn’t work for everyone. And Danny Roddy has a great book called the hair like a fox, where he talks about this whole phenomenon, he goes into a ton of detail, because he struggled with hair loss. He was a musician in a band. And he definitely he had so many lifestyle things that he wasn’t. And he tried experimental with so many different nutrition approaches, which like, don’t we all we have a health issue. And he got so deep into the like, what causes hair loss, especially like in men’s, he was very, very young. And the DHT thing came up, he dove into that research and was like, okay, so it doesn’t work for for some people, yes, DHT can be a problem. But for the majority, it did not stop their hair loss when they blocked it, and it didn’t help with their hair growth. So the bigger question is, then what is it for those people? Right, what are the other imbalances? And we have to look further than DHT I think for that specific reason, because it doesn’t always help everyone. I mean, I didn’t have high DHT on my hormone panel, it was just testosterone and DHEA. So they couldn’t really blame my hair loss on that. Although they did still say we could have been from just having high testosterone in general. But what typically causes that to be high in the first place, right? What makes our androgens high. PCOS is definitely part of the puzzle. And we have two episodes we did on PCOS. If you’re like, what is that? How do I know if I have it? What can I do about it? We have two episodes on that. But thyroid health is the other big piece and that’s why when someone is getting diagnosed with PCOS, they’re supposed to rule out hypothyroidism and make sure that that’s not the cause of their high androgens. But a lot of women with PCOS have both PCOS and hypothyroidism, they can happen together they can coexist. But if we think about hypothyroidism, that leads to higher androgens, it also leads to blood sugar imbalances and can contribute to insulin resistance. So that can look a lot like PCOS. So it’s something that we want to make sure we’re ruling out and understanding and even if it’s subclinical hypothyroidism, like if your doctor says your labs are normal, but you’re like II, I kind of fall into all those things Amanda was talking about, you definitely want to dig deeper into that another big part of this is getting adequate progesterone in the body. So producing enough progesterone, we did a whole episode on this, where we talked about how to boost your levels naturally, that’s going to be huge. And you’ll kind of learn why in a second. But what are some other hormones like outside of DHT that can contribute to hair loss that we would want to consider. Estrogen is a big one. We need enough estrogen for healthy hair. But if we when we have too much, and we’re exceeding that, it can actually lead to less thyroid hormone being available. The and this is a huge part of my story talks about in the pregnancy episode, I had high estrogen from the pill and the copper IUD. What that what happens in the body is we make more of this thyroid hormone binding globulin and that binds to it makes it inactive. So it’s going to contribute to not having adequate thyroid hormone available, which is of course going to contribute to how much energy your body is producing and using and then that can contribute to hair loss. So that’s a really big one is excess estrogen. Estrogen can also change our oil production, which can impact the hair follicle. So I would say estrogen is kind of like an internal one where it can affect your thyroid and it’s kind of like indirectly impacting hair loss. But it can also be like scalp health directly impact hair loss which if you have like fungal overgrowth on your scalp, super dry scalp, all those things can contribute to hair loss as well. And but they can still have a hormonal component to them. Low levels of progesterone. Progesterone is huge for hair growth. Remember it’s anti inflammatory, it helps protect our bodies from stress. Probably sounds very similar to vitamin E but it also helps it’s one of those androgen I don’t want to say like blockers but it’d be Sleep can prevent that conversion of testosterone to DHT that more harmful androgen for hair loss. So progesterone is essential for protecting us from stress. Anti Inflammatory hormone balances our estrogen. So we don’t have estrogen dominance supports thyroid hormone use in the body, and it can prevent that conversion to that harmful androgen tht. Thyroid hormone, of course, is huge. I’ve been talking about this the whole time, because I think for a lot of people that is a main driver, they just can’t get the right diagnosis, and they can’t get the right labs drawn to help them figure out that it is. But that thyroid hormone could be contributing to the energy piece, it can be contributing to the other hormonal piece where you’re not making adequate progesterone because that really helps us ovulate and have like a strong ovulation. We talked about that in the episode on progesterone.

But yeah, it’s a huge one. And even though that DHT is so linked to hair loss, and that’s the first thing people are gonna look at, if that’s not an issue for you, or if fixing that does not fix the hair loss, I would still I would still say like it could be hormone related, it’s just a different hormone that doesn’t get as much recognition. And then lastly, cortisol. So remember, stress is huge. It can in some people have specific issues where they’re more sensitive to stress. And they will experience hair loss very easily from stressful events. Again, it’s still three or four months later. So it can be hard to recognize. But cortisol is huge. And as cortisol goes up, estrogen also tends to go up. So if we’re increasing cortisol, and that’s increasing our energy demands on the body messing with our blood sugar, raising our estrogen cortisol also directly impacts thyroid hormone, I talked about this, in that free training that I did on the thyroid, I gave you a nice little graphic and breakdown. But basically, you can stop that production of the free T for and using it properly in the body. So cortisol and stress is huge. And I and hopefully you’re starting to see how like, oh, so all these hormones, like they really do impact each other and the different systems of the body impact each other. It’s probably not just one thing that’s contributing to my hair loss, I really want to look a little bit deeper into all these. But yeah, so I would say listen to the podcast on how to use progesterone levels naturally, if you feel like there’s an estrogen progesterone imbalance for you. Do not skip that that’s huge. But also thyroid is important to investigate as well. And then just analyzing your stress. So if you if you don’t have the high androgens that you feel like it’s really obvious where the hair loss is coming from, know that they can come from other hormones as well. So the last area that I’m going to talk about is our scalp health. And I feel like some people definitely address this I feel like it’s either like it’s just hormone, it’s just a supplement, or it’s just hair products that we’re looking at, when it’s like we probably need to look at all these things when it comes to hair loss and supporting that hair growth. And one forgotten area of that is our scalp. So our scalp is so essential for hair growth specifically but also for understanding is the health of our scalp having an impact on hair loss, if we have too much buildup from different products or shampoo, most people do not properly wash out their shampoo. And we’ll talk about that in a second for circulation if our scalp isn’t getting enough attention from us and or if there’s just a lack of nutrients in general that that are not getting to that scalp because of the buildup the poor circulation if we have something going on in our gut that’s contributing to fungal overgrowth on our scalp and or certain nutrient deficiencies, all those things can impact our that hair follicle and then that’s going to impact our hair loss but also if that hairs ability to grow. So we always want to take a well rounded approach to hair loss. And I do think like eating enough is huge, like I talked about your micronutrients is huge that we went through. And then hormones of course you want to look deeper into that and that includes thyroid hormone and stress hormones to see that component but the I would say the fourth big component is like how are you taking care of your scalp? What does that look like for you? I think a big one. Like I mentioned shampoo, a lot of people don’t wash that out properly is getting a good shampoo and shampooing twice. So the first shampoo should be cleaning off your scalp. You can use so many different things for this. I really like shampoo bars. Morocco method has a great one and I’m gonna link anything I mentioned in the show notes. But Morocco method has a great shampoo bar. Pure OCO also has great shampoo bars. They’re all kind of the same. If I’m being honest. Hiroko I think they’re pretty similar in price might be a little bit cheaper than Morocco method, but any shampoo bars will be pretty similar. It gets nice and sudsy sold Do people like that more natural shampoos don’t always get as sudsy and then you don’t feel like your hair is clean. But essentially you should really be working that first shampoo into the scalp and then cleaning it off really really well and that is just getting off all the buildup. The second shampoo is about actually bringing nutrients to the scalp. So for that one, you would want to use a shampoo that is very nutrient based. So Morocco method I love, it has amazing ingredients. It’s really nourishing for your scalp. But I would always use a Shem pouvoir first before I just use their shampoo when you go on their website. I think they have like eight shampoos or something I don’t use them all I don’t rotate them I just use your apple cider vinegar one. It’s it’s like clay based and everything. It’s great. So that one is the one I leave in, I leave on my scalp and I let it sit for like five minutes because that’s the nourishing portion. I’m using the bar to clean off my scalp clean off any buildup, I use a brush it’s like a bristle a boar bristle brush combo, you could just use a bristle brush if you want I think it depends on like your scalp sensitivity, your hair type, all that kind of stuff. I my hair tangles so easily. So like I need to have the bristles in there or it’s a nightmare.

So I use like they have a combination one for Morocco method, but you could probably get a similar brush anywhere. I just when I find all the products I want in one place. Like for me it’s easier. So those are the ones I’m liking. But if you find a boar bristle brush you like, let me know, send me a DM and then I’ll add it to my list that I recommend to people. But basically I wash with the shampoo, I will rinse it out and then I will make sure that it’s really out with the brush. I then use either the Morocco method at Apple Cider Vinegar shampoo and leave it in like and you want to work it into your scalp. Whatever shampoo you’re choosing to use. You want to really massage it into the scalp not with your nails because you don’t want to mess with like, you don’t want to like create like more dryness or scrapes where like bacteria can get into your scalp. But you do want to nourish and bring some circulation into your scalp and they have like little hand massages you can use Morocco method has one. I have a few women in my membership that have this one they found at TJ Maxx for like $5 It’s just like a handheld one that you can massage the shampoo into your scalp. This is great for making sure that it gets in there. But it also helps with circulation. So that’s kind of like one of the my other big tips is like giving your scalp attention when we have hair loss. I mean, I remember I would I didn’t want even brush my hair. And I wouldn’t touch my scalp for like weeks because I was like I don’t want any more hair to fall out. I’m so nervous. Turns out that’s like the opposite of what you want to do. Because you want to if you bring more circulation, it’s going to bring more blood flow, it’s going to bring more nutrients. So shampoo twice. One other shampoo I’ve loved. I tried it like a month ago, someone recommended it in my membership, the brand. It’s called under Luna, I’ll link the one that I like in the show notes. But they have like it’s called warrior. And it’s supposed it’s it’s meant for like revitalizing your scalp. And it can be really helpful for hair growth. And I’m pregnant and eventually I will be postpartum and I’m like how can I like not go through this whole like traumatic hair loss thing again. And so that’s something that I’ve definitely been keeping in mind, I’m sure I’ll have a phase where I lose some hair, it’s fine. It’s part of the journey. But if I can minimize that, and or help it regrow faster, I’m going to so I was like, Oh, let me just experiment and try this. It is amazing. And so you it does get sudsy but not until you the second wash, but it makes your hair very clean. So Morocco method is like it’s like clay based in food based. It’s like it does not suds a ton in your hair. It’s just nourishment and a lot of people don’t love that and you’re gonna go through a detox period for sure. So that can be challenging. It took me like two weeks to get to have my hair not beat. So when it comes to the Morocco method one, it’s food based, it’s like clay, it’s nutrients, it doesn’t get sudsy so a lot of people don’t love that and there’s a detox period when you start to use it. So it took me like two weeks but I’ve had some people will take some like two months to get through the detox period and like it’s usually because they have an imbalance of oils in their scalp and that is contributing to poor hair health. So it’s important to go through the detox period but it doesn’t make it suck any less with that. I found the shampoo bar first and then using the Morocco method was really helpful and that sped up the detox process for me like super quickly because I was not doing that at first and I talked to their customer service and they’re like this is what you should try. But the under Luna I don’t think people would have a huge detox period with so that could be one that you consider it does get sudsy you would still wash twice and they tell you that on the bottle, they have very specific instructions, which I love. I still use a brush to tick to make sure all the shampoo is out though, because ultimately I do not want buildup of my scalp especially like it’s cold. Right now, in North Carolina, we have the heat going on in the house things My skin’s definitely been much drier because of that. And the last thing I want is for my scalp to get too dry and to start flaking and then potentially get some sort of bacteria or whatever in there leading to more scalp hair issues. So those are some things to consider products to consider trying to not ignore circulation. Don’t be afraid to touch your scalp. I wouldn’t I wouldn’t scratch it. But like brushing your hair every day is helpful. If you have curly hair, you can boost circulation with just your hands and massaging your scalp, or getting one of those little handheld massager things like the one you would use for shampoo, you could use it when your hair is dry. So do not feel like if you have curly hair, you have to brush your hair. I know that that’s not how it works. So, but scalp massage is still important. And then if you’re looking for some extra scalp support, like if you want to do some treatments between all this Morocco method does make this really great detox mask like clay based mask that they have. I love using it you can I use it for too long. It’s very strong. Once I got a headache from using it, and I was like, wow, this is way more powerful than I anticipated. I only keep it on for like five or 10 minutes. It’s called Zen detox. And it does double as a dry shampoo. I use it as a dry shampoo as well. It’s just like a powder and it’s in like a little container. So it’s not the easiest to dry shampoo. But so it does double as a dry shampoo. It is light in color. So I even for my hair like I don’t put it up here. I will like part my hair and put it underneath because otherwise it would show either when you rub it in for me it shows so if you have really dark hair, you probably want to get something different for dry shampoo. primally pure makes a dark hair dry shampoo that has cocoa powder in it so it’s darker. And then you smell like chocolate, which is nice. But that’s something to consider if you want to help support and remove some buildup on your scalp as well. But honestly, I think if you just start doing the double shampoo and letting the second shampoo really sit in set and nourish your scalp, that’s going to make the biggest difference. So I don’t think you need to go run out and buy a ton of products. But yeah, so to recap, double shampoo Morocco method under Luna, I’ll link those shampoos, and the show notes shampoo bar as well. And then massage your scalp use brush everyday if you can, if you have curly hair, just massage it with your hands to help boost that circulation. So overall, for hair loss, we want to focus on eating enough food getting enough energy in listen to the episode I link to in the show notes or go track your food for a few days and chronometer and then compare it to that calculation on the TDE calculator that I linked in the show notes. And then you want to think about am I getting those micronutrients in if you don’t know what your status is, for a lot of those, then consider going through the master minerals course you can do a hair test, which I know is not fun when you have hair loss. But you get a lot of information from it. And it’s only a heaping teaspoon of hair that you need. And then I also talk about iodine, how to test for thyroid health, all that stuff in there. And then of course, hormone status, you want to consider all those I still think hair testing is first if you know me, I’ve talked about this so many times, our hormones are the last thing to change. So you want to figure out what are all the things leading up to that that I need to work on first and then finally, addressing your scalp health. How are you supporting it? What are you using for shampoo and conditioner? Are you giving your scalp any attention? What does that look like? That’s That’s it. That was a whole lot of information. I hope that you guys enjoyed this episode, please tag me on Instagram, if you enjoyed it and you’re sharing it in your stories, send it to someone that you know that struggling with hair loss, this is such a hard thing to deal with. For me, it’s like right up there was struggling with conception especially when your hair loss is really bad. Because it just makes you really struggle with your appearance and you get really self conscious especially if you’re losing more and more hair and you can see a lot of your scalp. So I know I know that it’s not easy. And it’s really difficult to do things that are like a long term fix and don’t fix it quickly. But I’m telling you trying to do it quick you’re gonna end up taking a year and not seeing any progress anyway, so you might as well do it the right way and address all these different areas slowly letting your body adjust and then hopefully seeing some success after that. So hope you enjoyed this and I will see you in the next episode

thank you for listening to the RU menstrual podcast if you enjoyed today’s episode please consider leaving us a review and sharing the podcast with someone you think it will help. If you are new here, we can’t recommend enough to start with our mineral imbalance quiz. This is going to give you an idea if you are at low, moderate or high risk for mineral imbalances. And then of course, make sure you follow us on Instagram at hormone healing rd. And consider signing up for our newsletter if you like nerding out and you’re just loving these podcasts but maybe you’re a little bit more visual and you want to see things too. We go into a ton of detail in our weekly newsletter. So we would love to have you join us there. All right, thank you and we will see you in the next episode.

Amanda Montalvo

Amanda Montalvo is a women's health dietitian who helps women find the root cause of hormone imbalances and regain healthy menstrual cycles.

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