What nutrient deficiencies can lead to (weak) Brittle Hair :
Apart from many other possible causes, brittle hair may be a symptom of, or aggravated by, deficiency of certain nutrient(s). This could be a direct result of the lack of the nutrient, or indirectly, when the deficiency causes conditions such as hypothyroidism, which leads to symptoms that include dry brittle hair.
What nutrient deficiencies can lead to Brittle Hair :
BIOTIN | More on Biotin
Biotin is recognized as one of the major hair, skin and nail vitamins. It is often used in shampoos and other treatment for dry hair. A deficiency of biotin can lead to brittle nails and dry brittle hair.
Other symptoms that may indicate deficiency of Biotin :
thinning of hair which may lead to total hair loss
dry scaly scalp or face in infants (cradle crap), or in various parts of the body in adults
intestinal tract symptoms like loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting
fatigue or extreme exhaustion due to impaired energy production
muscle pain or cramps related to physical exertion
nervo-muscular symptoms like seizures, numbness and tingling of extremities, and movements characterized by lack of muscle tone and coordination
Biotin-rich foods that may contribute to the efficacy of dry hair home remedies
include · organ meats such as liver · carrots · romaine lettuce · swiss chard · tomatoes.
VITAMIN C | More on Vitamin C
Vitamin C is another of the hair, skin and nail vitamins that are important in treatment for dry hair or skin. A deficiency of vitamin C is often symptomized by dry, rough or scaly skin and dry brittle hair.
Other symptoms that may indicate deficiency of Vitamin C :
easy bruising and small spots of bleeding under the skin (which appear as pink spots on the skin)
swollen or painful joints or bones
slow-healing wounds and fractures
spongy, swollen, bleeding gums and loose teeth
teeth decay easily
dry rough scaly skin
fatigue or lethargy or muscle weakness
loss of appetite
recurrent colds and infections
possible weight gain due to slower metabolism
Dry hair home remedies should include high vitamin C foods for healthy hair, such as · guava · lychees / litchis · papayas · strawberries · vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, mustard greens, bell peppers, turnip greens, spinach.
COPPER | More on Copper
Deficiency of copper may cause hypothyroidism (under-production of thyroid hormones) which can lead to dry brittle hair, hair loss, brittle nails, coarse dry pale skin, weight gain, intolerance to cold, fatigue, depression, irritability, poor memory, muscle or joint pain, constipation, decreased libido, heavy periods or menstrual irregularities.
Other symptoms that may indicate deficiency of Copper :
early symptoms are osteoporosis, osteopenia (lower bone mineral density than normal, but not as low as for osteoporosis) and joint problems
retarded growth or abnormalities in bone development in infants and young children
anemia that is characterized by lack of improvement with iron therapy alone
loss of skin or hair color
impaired immune function that may lead to frequent infections
impaired nerve function that may lead to taste insensitivity and lack of physical coordination
inelastic blood vessels that rupture easily
elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels
irregular heart beat
Menkes disease that occurs mostly in male infants, characterized by sparse greyish or colorless twisted hair, and floppy muscle tone
Copper-rich foods that can help alleviate hypothyroidism, and dry brittle hair, include · cashew nuts · dried beans like soybeans, adzuki beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), lentils, lima, navy beans · dried spirulina · crimini mushrooms · shiitake mushrooms · sesame seeds.
IRON | More on Iron
Iron is important for oxygenation of body tissues, and a lack of iron can lead to symptoms such as brittle nails and dry brittle hair.
Other symptoms that may indicate deficiency of Iron :
iron-deficiency anemia, with symptoms that may include headaches, dizziness, irritability, pale skin, cold hands and feet, lack of energy, rapid heartbeat, brittle nails, shortness of breath, sore or inflamed tongue or mouth, lack of appetite
food cravings for inedible items such as ice, paint, starch, clay, or dirt
increased intestinal inflammation or irritation
depression or apathy
insomnia or disturbed sleep
decrease in ability to concentrate
impaired mental skills that can affect memory and job performance
learning disabilities and short attention spans in children
irregular menstrual periods
nails that are spoon-shaped or that have ridges running lengthwise
higher risk of lead poisoning in children
Foods rich in iron that may help prevent dry brittle hair include · animal liver · blackstrap molasses · beef · eggs (especially the yolk) · shiitake mushrooms · dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, swiss chard, turnip greens · green beans such as winged beans, string beans · dried beans like kidney beans, lentils · soybeans and soy products, especially tofu · rice bran and wheat bran.
IODINE | More on Iodine
Iodine deficiency can contribute to hypothyroidism (under-production of thyroid hormones) which can lead to symptoms such as dry brittle hair, hair loss, brittle nails, coarse dry pale skin, intolerance to cold, fatigue or weakness, poor memory, depression, irritability, weight gain, muscle or joint pain, constipation, decreased libido, infertility, menstrual irregularities or heavy periods, and in more severe cases, hoarseness, decreased sense of taste and smell, mental impairment, skin thickening, and puffy face, hands or feet.
Other symptoms that may indicate deficiency of Iodine :
goiter characterized by an enlarged thyroid gland which may cause a choking feeling or difficulty with breathing and swallowing
impaired immune system leading to susceptibility to infections
hearing loss in children
severe deficiency during pregnancy, breastfeeding or infancy can lead to neuro-cognitive defects in the baby and problems with growth, speech and hearing; a very severe form is cretinism, characterized by brain damage, speech problems, hearing loss, apathy, spasticity, and stunted growth
even mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy can hamper growth of the child’s brain and lead to low intelligence
congenital hypothyroidism is the most common cause of mental retardation in children
Foods high in iodine that help prevent hypothyroidism, and consequently dry brittle hair, include · salt-water fish · seafood and shellfish · seaweed like dulse, bladderwrack, kelp, nori · iodized table salt.
MANGANESE | More on Manganese
Manganese is important for activating enzymes that enable the body to utilize key hair, skin and nail vitamins like vitamin C and biotin. Lack of this nutrient can therefore contribute to excessive bone loss and weak hair and nails.
Other symptoms that may indicate deficiency of Manganese :
nausea or dizziness
iron-deficiency anemia, due to manganese’s role in iron utilization
high blood sugar levels (impaired glucose tolerance)
blood cholesterol levels that are too low
impaired bone growth or skeletal abnormalities, especially in children
loss of hair colour
defective functioning of the reproductive system
severe deficiency in infants can cause convulsions, and even paralysis, blindness and deafness
Manganese rich foods for healthy hair that may be part of dry hair home remedies include · dark green leafy vegetables (broccoli, chard, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, spinach) · avocados · pineapple · raspberries · nuts (almonds, peanuts, pecans, walnuts).
SELENIUM | More on Selenium
Research indicates that selenium deficiency worsens the effect of iodine deficiency on thyroid function, leading to hypothyroidism with symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, irritability, depression, poor memory, weight gain, constipation, intolerance to cold, heavier or lighter menstruation than normal, coarse dry pale skin, dry brittle hair, hair loss, and brittle nails, and that selenium supplements may help protect against goiter.
Other symptoms that may indicate deficiency of Selenium :
weaker immune system leading to susceptibility to stress and illnesses
greater incidence of cancer, especially gynaecological, gastrointestinal, esophageal, lung, and prostate cancer
rheumatoid arthritis patients tend to have low blood levels of selenium
elevated blood pressure
risk of arteriosclerosis / atherosclerosis (hardening and/or narrowing of the arteries), leading to heart or coronary artery disease
hair or skin discoloration
whitened fingernail beds
Keshan disease (heart disorder characterized by inflamed heart muscles)
Kashin-Beck disease (disabling disease of bones and joints, characterized by stunted growth, bone deterioration, and deformity of joints)
severe deficiency along with malnutrition can cause muscle breakdown characterized by pain or weakness in the muscles
Selenium-rich foods that alleviate iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism include · Brazil nuts (one of the most concentrated selenium food sources) · mushrooms (button, shiitake, reishi) · fish (cod, flounder, halibut, herring, mackerel, salmon, smelts, red snapper, swordfish, tuna) · seafood (lobster, oyster, scallops, shellfish, shrimp).