As a new mom, one of the things I was looking forward to the least is the postpartum hair loss that many moms report dealing with a couple of months after giving birth.
I secretly hoped I’d be one of those rare women that don’t have to deal with losing their locks. Unfortunately, that hope was short-lived!
Although losing hair is super common, especially after giving birth, it doesn’t make postpartum hair loss any easier to deal with.
My baby girl was around the 3 month mark when I started noticing more hair falling out than usual. I realize that postpartum hair loss is in large part due to hormone levels readjusting after giving birth.
But, a healthy mane also requires some specific nutrients which are handy to get enough of in the diet.
In this article, I will walk you through the seven most important ones.
As usual, if you’d rather watch than read, simply click on the video below. If not, keep on scrolling!
Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, helps the body convert food into energy. Deficiencies in biotin are very rare, but when they do occur, brittle, thinning or splitting hairs and nails are some of the most noticeable symptoms (1, 2).
Pregnant women are amongst the most likely to develop a biotin deficiency. Such a deficiency can then spill over into the fourth trimester, intensifying the postpartum hair loss a new mama may experience (3).
Other symptoms of biotin deficiency include chronic fatigue, muscle pain, cramps and tingling in the hands and feet (4).
- Dark leafy greens: Especially romaine lettuce, spinach and broccoli.
- Other vegetables: Particularly sweet potato, onions, carrots cauliflower, tomatoes and cucumbers.
- Whole grains: Especially oats.
- Nuts: Particularly almonds, walnuts and peanuts.
- Some fruit: Especially bananas, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon and grapefruit.
A biotin-rich diet is the best way to go. But if after adding these biotin-rich foods you still don’t notice any improvement, you can also try taking a supplement providing at least 1000 micrograms of biotin a day (7).
In sum: Biotin-rich foods can help prevent brittle, thinning or splitting hair. If you cannot get enough biotin from your diet, a supplement may be beneficial.
2 & 3. Iron and Zinc
Iron is involved in so many important functions in the body, including the making of DNA present in hair follicles.
Plant foods rich in iron and zinc include whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, broccoli and swiss chard.
In sum: Iron and zinc are two nutrients needed for hair growth and maintenance. To get enough, make sure to include the foods above to your meals.
4 & 5. Linoleic Acid and Alpha-Linolenic Acid
Hairdressers often recommend to clients with dull or dry hair that they add some good fats to their diet. And there might actually be some science behind this recommendation.
If we want to get into the specifics, two types of fats are especially beneficial. That’s linolenic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
Both are essential fatty acids, which means that your body cannot produce them and that you have to get them through your diet.
And these two fats are required for hair growth and maintenance and also happen to be great for your overall health (1).
- Foods rich in LA include: Leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains and vegetable oils.
- Foods rich in ALA include: Walnuts and walnut oil, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds and soy nuts.
For best results, try incorporating these foods to your meals on a daily basis.
In sum: Getting enough essential fats such as linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid in the diet can help maintain a healthy mane.
6. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which basically means that it protects your body against damage. Getting enough of vitamin E in your diet may also help with hair growth.
For instance, some research suggests that vitamin E may help improve hair growth in people with hair loss (14).
Foods rich in vitamin E include:
- Nuts and seeds: Especially sunflower seeds, almonds and peanuts.
- Some fruit: Particularly cranberries, raspberries, kiwis, avocados and olives.
- Some vegetables: Especially dark leafy greens, asparagus, bell peppers and tomatoes.
That said, getting too much vitamin E may be just as bad as getting too little.
Research shows that getting too much vitamin E from supplements may actually cause hair loss. So you’re likely best sticking to getting this vitamin from foods (1).
In sum: Vitamin-E rich foods may help reduce postpartum hair loss and promote hair growth. However, unnecessary supplementation may have the opposite effect.
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is another B-vitamin that your body can use to keep your hair healthy.
Getting too little of this vitamin may lead to alopecia, which is a condition in which hair falls out in small patches (1).
Niacin-rich plant foods include:
- Whole grains: Especially brown rice and barley.
- Some vegetables: Particularly dark leafy greens, mushrooms, asparagus, bell peppers, corn, carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
- Some fruit: Especially cantaloupe.
- Nuts and seeds: Particularly peanuts and sunflower seeds.
In sum: Niacin is another B-vitamin which may help prevent postpartum hair loss and keep your mane healthy.
A Quick Word on Supplements
Many supplements are marketed as effective against hair loss. They often contain the nutrients I’ve just discussed together with many others.
It can be tempting to just add one of these supplements to your diet and hope for the best. But here are some good reasons not to.
First, you may only benefit from supplements if your diet is deficient in the specific nutrients you’re supplementing. So if already eat the foods I’ve just mentioned on a regular basis, there’s a good chance that supplements won’t do much for you (1).
Second, many contain nutrients touted to be beneficial against hair loss when they actually aren’t. So again, not a good use of your money.
For instance, excess vitamin A and selenium, two nutrients commonly added to hair growth supplements, have both been linked to hair loss. So I’d personally stick to getting these nutrients from foods rather than supplements (16).
Now if, for some reason, you are unable to get enough of these nutrients through your diet alone, I’d recommend you supplement each nutrient individually.
I consider this a better strategy than opting for a hair loss supplement with mega-doses of vitamins and minerals and other unnecessary ingredients.
In sum: Supplementation, when unnecessary, may actually intensify postpartum hair loss rather than minimize it. Getting your hair-friendly nutrients from foods remains best.
To Sum It Up
Postpartum hair loss is very common and mostly caused by hormone levels readjusting after birth.
That said, a nutrient-rich diet may help minimize hair loss and boost hair growth.
The nutrients mentioned above are particularly beneficial and may ease your recovery from postpartum hair loss.
Feel free to download the worksheet below for a visual reminder of the hair-friendly foods to purchase at the supermarket. To get your free copy, simply enter your contact details below.
How did you deal with your postpartum hair loss? Let’s chat about it in the comments below!