There are many different eating disorders, all of which affect our health in a great number of ways. Apart from the obvious health effects (extreme weight loss, anemia, nutrient deficiencies), eating disorders can cause a lot of secondary side effects people rarely think of. One of those side effects can sometimes be hair loss.
Here is how eating disorders cause hair loss.
The food we eat has an important effect on our hair health. Several nutrients have been implied in studies as beneficial for our hair. For example, vitamin D can be used to “wake up” dormant hair follicles, while vitamin E has been proven to help people with alopecia. Zinc and copper are also famous for their effects on hair health.
Since many eating disorders are characterized by an extreme reduction in food intake, people who suffer from these conditions are at a higher risk of nutrient deficiencies. For example, anorexia is a famous eating disorder that can cause people to be extremely malnourished. One of the physical symptoms of this condition is hair thinning.
Shock of the System
Another reason why eating disorders can affect hair growth is because they cause a shock to your body. This happens when the body goes through extreme stress, which is not uncommon during an eating disorder.
Since our body doesn’t consider our hair system essential for our survival, it can cause our hair to enter the telogen (resting) phase. This allows our body to divert the much needed energy elsewhere and causes a hair loss condition called telogen effluvium.
Eating disorders cause hair loss by putting our body through extreme shock and limiting our intake of valuable nutrients. And, while these conditions can have much more serious health implications, hair loss is another reason to help your loved ones if they’re struggling with an eating disorder.