Foods, Herbs, Medications and Supplements That Trigger Hair Loss

Some Foods, Herbs, Drugs and Supplements That May Cause Hair Loss

The market is filled with all sorts of products that are meant to help control hair loss. Many people have more than one of these offerings in their beauty cabinet. But do you realize the effectiveness of these products may be inhibited by what you take in? Maybe you do not. But the reality is that certain foods, drugs, herbs and supplements may indeed lead to hair loss. We discuss some of these here to help you guard against this problem more effectively.

Hair Loss

Types of hair loss

There are two major types of hair loss that could result from the foods, medications, herbs and supplements you take. These are: anagen effluvium and telogen effluvium. Of these two, the latter is the more common.

Telogen effluvium – This condition results from excessive levels of certain nutrients or minerals in the body. It also occurs when your body is under significant stress. This could be from poor nutrition, surgery, illness and, of course, mental stress. Telogen effluvium typically crops up about three months after taking a medication or receiving vitamins or minerals into your body. When having this issue, your hair follicles transit to the telogen or resting phase of hair growth cycle too soon. This essentially means your hair gets ready for shedding way too early. It is normal for healthy people to lose between 100-150 hairs daily. But this condition causes you to lose even greater number of hairs.

Anagen effluvium – As the name of this type also suggests, it has to do with the anagen phase of hair growth cycle. It impedes natural growth that takes place during that stage. The condition prevents matrix cells from dividing efficiently and this hinders new hairs from forming. It develops within weeks, even days, of using a medication. Apart from the hair on your head, anagen effluvium also affects your eyebrows and lashes as well as hairs in other parts of your body.

What are these foods, drugs, herbs and supplements?

You will find below a number of foods, herbs, medications and supplements that could make you lose hairs. But before going further, it is worth pointing out that some of these may not cause any issue if taken in moderation.

"Sugar-free" foods

Ordinarily, it should be a good thing to eat foods that contain little or no sugar. But it has been observed that this is not necessary so. Why? A number of the so-called sugar-free foods do in fact contain artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin and aspartame. These chemical substances, especially when taken too much, can cause your hair to thin. Before long, this results in hair loss.

Fatty or fried foods

Too much fat intake is a major concern for hair loss. So you may want to keep your consumption of fatty or fried foods low. These contain trans fats and saturated fatty acids. These substances can give rise to hormonal imbalance which, in turn, cause your hair to fall out. They also cause you to have acne and even more severe conditions such as high cholesterol and heart disease.

Refined flour

Foods that are made out of refined flour needs to be avoided as well. Examples include biscuits, white bread and cakes. These mostly contain carbohydrates and may cause your blood sugar levels to spike. These are in no way beneficial for dealing with stress and, as such, could cause your hair to fall off.

Processed and packaged foods

These are to be avoided mostly for the same reason as the previous group. Processed and packaged foods do more harm than good. But the busy life that many people maintain keeps them stuck on such. These foods often contain substances or ingredients that are not safe for health. It is not uncommon to hear of preservatives as well as artificial flavors and colors being added to packaged foods. In fact, this is the norm. These constituents and high amount of calories can combine to harm your hair health and even you overall health. These possibly harmful substances include carmine dye or cochineal extract which comes from bugs.


Do you love drinking coffee a lot? If yes, you may wish to readjust your preference as that can expose you to hair loss. It is not just coffee, though, but also herbs, foods or medications known to contain caffeine. This stimulant interferes with your ability to get good sleep. And when you do not sleep well, you expose yourself to hair loss. You may say coffee is good for keeping you active and alert at work. Yes, but would you be comfortable dealing with hair loss as a result? It won't be a bad idea to seek for a better alternative means of staying alert.

Tribulus terrestris

This herb is popularly used to boost testosterone levels and to enhance strength. You will find many bodybuilders and athletes supplementing with it in one form or another. But it is considered a risk factor for hair loss, especially among men. Also known as puncture vine, Tribulus terrestris is thought to constitute greater risk among those who are genetically inclined towards hair loss. Higher testosterone levels raise the potential for greater amount of its by-product, dihydrotestosterone (DHT).  The testosterone derivative DHT is a major culprit in hair loss, male pattern baldness in particular.

Vitamin A

This vitamin helps with great eyesight, among other benefits. But when you take too high amounts, you may be inviting hair shedding. It is interesting that you could experience hair loss if you do not get enough vitamin A. Yet, you have the same problem if you take too much. Your duty then becomes finding a fine balance between the extremes. The recommended amount of the fat-soluble vitamin to take daily is about 800 micrograms. But different factors, including gender and age, also determine the right amount. You should take appropriate suggested value into consideration in deciding what you eat and what supplement or medication you use.

Chemotherapy and anti-cancer medications

When it comes to medications causing hair loss, these make up arguably the most popular group. Chemotherapy drugs typically cause the anagen effluvium kind of hair loss. The American Cancer Society says you can expect your hair to start falling off within two weeks of commencing the use of these drugs. These medications attack and destroy cancer cells in the body. But they also do attack healthy body cells, including hair follicle cells, at the same time. Examples of these drugs are:

• Doxorubicin
• Ifosfamide
• Adriamycin
• Tamoxifen
• Cyclophosphamide
• Docetaxel
• Vinorelbine
• Cactinomycin
• Daunorubicin

The degree of hair loss becomes greater with the number of the cancer-fighting drugs that are used concurrently.


These medications are known to cause telogen effluvium. Antidepressants causes your hair follicle to move too early to the resting (telogen) phase. You will notice that you lose more hair whenever you brush as a result of this. So you need to check whether you have started using an antidepressant recently if you notice something like this. The problem should resolve some time after you stop taking the medications. Examples of these drugs include Amitriptyline (Elavil), Amoxapine (Asendin) and Fluoxetine hydrochloride (Prozac).

Antibiotics and antifungals

Hair loss is a possible side effect from the use of antibiotics and antifungals. The reason is that the drugs can reduce the amount of vitamin B and hemoglobin in your body. Now, these are quite useful for hair health. Hemoglobin assists in the preservation of iron. When its level reduces, the amount of the mineral available reduces as well. This causes your hair to become dry, brittle and possibly fall out. The B vitamins, in their own case, promote hair growth, strength and luster.

Birth control drugs

Oral contraceptives are capable of throwing your hormone levels out of balance. And when this happens, it is normal for some degree of hair loss to follow.

High blood pressure medications

Beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and some other medications for regulating blood pressure can cause hair loss. The type that results from the use of these drugs is telogen effluvium which involves your hair shedding prematurely. Propranolol (Inderal), Atenolol (Tenormin), Enalapril (Vasotec) and Captopril (Capoten) are some of these medications.


The case of this mineral is similar to vitamin A: too little or too much will lead to hair loss. Either situation disrupts the natural hair growth cycle. Zinc helps with efficient absorption of vitamins and facilitates cell reproduction, among other functions. The suggested daily value is just about 10 micrograms. This means we can easily go over the threshold in that different foods, supplements and natural products are sources.


You can also face hair loss when you consume too much of selenium-rich foods, according to the National Health Institute. The suggested daily value for this supplement is 55 micrograms. This is thought to be enough for the production of selenoproteins needed to fight free radicals and enhance overall health. Brazil nut is an example of food that is quite rich in selenium. One or two of this are thought sufficient to provide you the amount of the nutrient you need in a day.


You are only to take just about 50 micrograms of biotin, also known as vitamin B7, per day to get its benefits. It is yet another nutrient that will do wonders to your hair when taken in right amount. It protects the hair against damage and enhances growth. But if you take too much biotin, you can easily tip the scales towards hair loss. Sources of the vitamin include nuts, fortified breakfast cereals, dairy products and chicken. You can easily go over healthy biotin intake considering the types of foods that produce it.

These ones are just examples of foods, herbs, medications and supplements that could potentially be problematic. There are several others. In terms of drugs, other examples include steroids, Interferons, anticoagulants (blood thinners), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Again, you may not really have problems when you take many of these, except maybe medications. What you should aim at is moderate intake. You should pay close attention to what you take and nutrients or minerals each offers. This may help to both prevent hair loss and reverse the problem. You should always try to go over potential side effects of drugs you take with your doctor or pharmacist.



Copyright © 2018, All Rights Reserved.