Weight loss and hair loss. What’s the connection?

Very often, people resort to restrictive dieting and extreme weight loss regimes to achieve their desired body weight. However, these methods can lead to a lack of essential nutrients, causing various health issues, including hair loss. Hair loss can manifest as acute or chronic shedding, with delayed hair loss occurring months after weight loss. In this article, we delve into the relationship between weight loss and hair loss, focusing on telogen effluvium as a primary scalp disorder associated with dieting and weight loss.

Telogen Effluvium Secondary to Dieting and Weight Loss

Telogen effluvium is a condition where hair follicles enter the shedding phase prematurely, leading to diffuse thinning or increased hair shedding. Stress, including emotional and physical stress from crash dieting, eating disorders, chronic illness, and pregnancy, can trigger this disorder. Weight loss, particularly rapid non-surgical weight loss or bariatric surgery, can also contribute to telogen effluvium. Thankfully, this condition is self-limited and resolves as the body adapts to the changes. Gradual, systematic weight loss at a rate of 1% of total body weight per week is recommended to avoid this problem.

Nutritional Deficiencies Secondary to Weight Loss and Dieting

Extreme weight loss, especially after bariatric surgeries, can put individuals at risk of nutritional deficiencies that may lead to hair loss. Switching to strict selective diets can also contribute to this issue. Several essential nutrients are associated with hair health, including protein, iron, biotin, zinc, essential fatty acids, and Vitamin B12.

Protein Deficiency and Hair Loss

Inadequate protein intake negatively affects hair, nails, and skin, as they are primarily composed of protein. Low protein levels can cause early fading of hair color, brittle strands, and increased hair loss. L-lysine, an essential amino acid, plays a crucial role in hair shape and volume. Inadequate lysine levels can lead to premature hair loss and thinning. Therefore, while losing weight, it is vital to incorporate protein-rich foods such as fish, poultry, and beans into the meal plan.

Zinc Deficiency and Hair Loss

Zinc is a mineral essential for skin, hair, and overall body growth. Malabsorption, eating disorders, inadequate vegetarian diets, and renal disorders can cause zinc deficiency, precipitating telogen effluvium. Consuming zinc-rich foods like oysters, poultry, red meat, beans, nuts, and whole grains can help prevent this deficiency. Additionally, zinc supplements may aid in reversing hair loss caused by telogen effluvium and alopecia areata.

Vitamin D Deficiency and Hair Loss

Vitamin D not only contributes to bone health but also stimulates the growth of new hair follicles. It has also been linked to alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition causing patchy hair loss. A study from 2019 revealed that a deficiency in vitamin D can worsen hair loss over time.

Iron Deficiency and Hair Loss

Iron deficiency is commonly associated with chronic anemia, but it can also lead to increased hair fall. Studies have documented that low iron levels are a frequent symptom in patients experiencing hair loss.


While achieving a healthy BMI is an important goal for overall health, extreme and unhealthy weight loss can lead to adverse consequences, including hair loss due to nutritional deficiencies and telogen effluvium. Instead, adopting a balanced and sustainable approach to weight loss, coupled with a well-rounded diet and exercise, is recommended. In case of concerns about weight loss or hair loss, seeking professional help is crucial. Rest assured, hair loss observed post-weight loss is generally temporary and can revert to normal once the body is adequately nourished with essential nutrients. Prioritizing both weight loss and hair health can lead to a happier, healthier you.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is hair loss?

Hair loss is the condition where a person experiences a significant amount of hair falling out from the scalp, leading to thinning or baldness.

2. Can I lose weight without experiencing hair loss?

Yes, it is possible to lose weight without experiencing hair loss. However, certain factors like restrictive diets or rapid weight loss can lead to temporary hair shedding.

3. How does weight loss affect hair growth?

Weight loss can potentially disrupt the normal hair growth cycle due to nutrient deficiencies or imbalances caused by restrictive diets or sudden weight loss. This can lead to temporary hair loss.

4. Is hair loss a common side effect of losing weight?

Hair loss can be a common side effect of losing weight, especially if the weight loss is rapid or if a person is following a restrictive diet that lacks essential nutrients.

5. Can weight loss surgery cause hair loss?

Weight loss surgery can sometimes cause hair loss, mainly due to the significant changes in the body and the associated nutritional deficiencies that can occur after the procedure.

6. How can I prevent hair loss while losing weight?

To prevent hair loss while losing weight, it is essential to maintain a well-balanced diet that includes all the necessary nutrients for healthy hair growth. This may include consuming foods rich in zinc and fatty acids.

7. What is telogen effluvium and how does it relate to hair loss?

Telogen effluvium is a common type of hair loss where a higher percentage of hair follicles enter the resting phase. This condition can be triggered by various factors, including rapid weight loss or certain nutrient deficiencies.

8. Can hair fall be a symptom of weight loss?

Yes, hair fall can be a symptom of weight loss, especially if the weight loss is rapid or if there are underlying nutrient deficiencies. It is important to address these issues to prevent further hair loss.

9. Can a healthy, balanced diet help prevent hair loss?

Yes, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet can help prevent hair loss. Consuming nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can support hair growth and prevent hair loss.

10. How does weight loss impact hair thinning?

Weight loss can potentially lead to hair thinning, especially if the weight loss is rapid or if there are nutrient deficiencies. It is important to address these factors and ensure a balanced diet.



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