Hair Loss And Weight – Can Your Hair Fall Out If You’re Too Thin?

Hair Loss And Weight – Can Your Hair Fall Out If You’re Too Thin?
March 14th, 2012

hair loss and weightCan hair loss be affected by weight gain or weight loss? If you become Angelina Jolie-skinny, could your hair suddenly fall out, and if it does, will it come back? And does being overweight put you at greater risk for losing your hair?

When I first noticed my hair was thinning, it was about ten years ago, and my body was at the thinnest it had ever been. In the past I’ve always been at a normal weight for my height (around the middle of the BMI – body mass index), but in my mid 20s I had dropped down to the low end of normal on the scale. I was initially ecstatic because I could finally wear whatever I wanted to without worrying about cellulite and muffin tops. At the time I had given up trying to lose weight because diets never worked for me – but I started eating a little less when I moved from one city to another because I couldn’t afford to eat out anymore, and after a few months I lost ten pounds.

After a few years at my “perfect” weight, I also noticed my part was wider, and my hair didn’t have the same volume it used to. More than one doctor told me I was too skinny, even though I was within the healthy range of the BMI scale, and I was still ten pounds heavier than any Hollywood celebrity. Telogen Effluvium (temporary increased hair shedding) can be caused by weight loss and nutritional deficiencies, so I then made it a point to try to eat as healthy as possible, even if that meant I would have to gain weight. Every time I felt a hunger pain I would worry my body was starving to death and my hair would flee my head, so I would constantly snack. For the next few years I didn’t gain too much weight, nor did I regrow any hair. And even though I felt like I had a low thyroid problem, doctors wouldn’t listen to me because I wasn’t overweight.

During the last few years I’ve gained about twenty pounds, despite eating relatively healthy foods, and I finally have the answer to whether or not gaining weight and not being too skinny would solve my hair problems. My hair, of course, is worse than ever, yet I’m definitely not too skinny anymore! I am totally average, yet my hair is anything but that. So in my case gaining weight didn’t do a damn thing, despite a few doctors telling me that was my answer. I guess being thin and not eating that well could have taxed my body and spurred my genetic hair loss faster than if I had been eating perfectly…

Now I’m currently trying to lose weight because I have a closet full of clothes that don’t fit and I have massive cellulite, varicose veins, and jiggly arms, and I feel really unattractive. I know I’m not supposed to hate so many things about my body but I do. I still associate hunger pains with my hair falling out – I know I’m nuts. Now I’m in a constant struggle between my weight and hair issues (but I doubt my hair will ever come back, which is why I’m back to focusing on losing weight). And now I also think my thyroid problem is back, but that’s a whole other story.

• Weight Loss And Hair Loss
I do believe if you’re too skinny that it can affect your hair negatively because when you’re trying to stay thin and only eat 1200 calories a day, it’s hard to get enough nutrients in those limited calories. So you must be vigilant about your diet if you’re prone to hair loss. There are so many super thin celebrities that don’t have any hair loss, so maybe they have excellent eating habits, they’re just genetically lucky, or they wear fake hair and we just don’t know about it. I have noticed a lot of the models in magazines seem to have thin hair and wide parts, so it does make me wonder if being super skinny puts you at risk for hair loss (these models probably fall below the healthy range on the BMI). When I was in New York City, there were a lot of skinny women with hair loss but I don’t know how much their weight affected their hair. On the other hand, I’ve seen many anorexic women without obvious hair loss, so I think if you’re not prone to hair loss you can do just about anything to your body and your hair will stay put.

Rapid weight loss can definitely cause temporary hair loss. Gastric Bypass Surgery can also cause extensive hair loss (which I will write about at another time). Hyperthyroid (overactive thyroid) can cause both weight loss and hair loss!

In theory if you lose weight slowly it shouldn’t be a problem for your hair, and if you eat really well, your weight shouldn’t have that much to do with your hair if you stay within a normal weight range. However there are other health factors that can contribute to hair loss (poor absorption of nutrients, low stomach acid, etc.) that I haven’t talked much about yet, and it is definitely challenging to stay slim while getting a perfect balance of nutrients to support your hair. Back when I was young, thin, and I had lots of hair, I used to drink Frappuccinos every day (and when you’re using up 400 calories on sugar, there’s not enough calories left for healthy foods).

• Weight Gain And Hair Loss
There are many medical conditions that can contribute to both weight gain and hair loss. PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), Diabetes, the pill, hormone imbalances, Depression, Hypothyroid (low thyroid), and side effects from medications are just a few issues that can affect both your weight and your hair. Or, of course, weight gain on its own can cause or worsen many of those same diseases, thus possibly making hair loss worse.

Overall I don’t know if overweight women have less of a chance, more of a chance, or the same chance, of having hair loss than women who aren’t overweight. This is a topic that’s interested me for several years now, but I don’t know the answer.

• Conclusion
This post is my way of expressing my frustration with not only my hair loss but my weight issues too. I am not trying to show off by saying I was once really happy with my figure and my weight – I’m just frustrated that when one thing is going well in your life, something else comes along to overshadow the positive. Now that I can’t lose weight to save my life, it does make me wonder if my thyroid is acting up again. And I do think  a big issue in today’s society is the difficulty in getting the proper nutrients absorbed into our bodies. Between the expense of organic foods, the pesticides that taint fruits and vegetables, the hormones given to animals, the genetically modified foods, the tap water that is questionably safe, and the omnipresence of unhealthy foods everywhere – I do wonder if this is having a huge impact on female hair loss. What do you think?

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Tags: Categories: Female Hair Loss

7 ResponsesLeave a comment
  • Dana
    March 14, 2012 at 8:21 am

    I developed LPP when I was at my thinnnest. I had been 15-20lbs overweight, lost some, but then took a stressful job that kept me on my feet (working with kids) and not snacking and very very busy…suddenly, I was at my pre-baby weight, then my scalp started burning and itching and then my hair fell out in clumps and then I went to the dermatologist and had that lovely scalp biopsy and then got my diagnosis. Even though no one ever said it, I wonder a lot about whether or not the combination of stress and low weight left me open to this auto-immune disorder. I associate the two. My mom, who had breast cancer 25+ years ago, told me once that it was hard for her to lose too much weight b/c weight loss can be a sign of cancer. She stayed 10lbs heavier than she should have (we’re very short, that’s two sizes on us) b/c she was afraid that if she LOOKED THIN, it meant the cancer was back. I think I feel a similar way about my hair loss. Losing weight is not just a numbers game for me, it’s a total (pardon the phrase) head trip!

  • Christa
    March 15, 2012 at 3:19 am

    I definitely think about my hair and my weight in conjunction. My first year in college found me enjoying rapid weight loss. Then when I was home on break I realized my hair was falling out with each hand run through my hair. I hit that low number (120) two more times in my life, letting stress do the work, but me reallly high about the number on the scale.
    Now I see that low number as sort of twisted; that it would most likely indicate I am ill.
    So now I look at my number (180/NO SHAME!) and say “this is me at peace” and also possibly “as good as it gets”.
    As I get older, I associate thinness with frailty, having watched my parents disappear year after year. I like to see people with reserve! I’d like to think that reserve nourishes the hair!

  • Lynz
    March 19, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Hi Jeni, first off, I love your blog, I have been following for a while. Thank you for your candor and compassion, you give women’s hairloss a much needed voice.

    I think weight can definitely affect hair loss/growth, mine certainly has. I am your age, last year I crash dieted going from a high normal BMI, to low normal (22 lbs.) within 4 months. A few months later-BOOM. Devastating hairloss, 1st time I experienced it.
    To reference your blog asking about treatments, I have been using Nizoral 2%, and Luxiq for the last 6 months, and (knock on wood) I am in a recovery. I have also gained back almost 10 lbs., and I experience the exact same anxieties you mentioned in this post. I am afraid to lose weight!
    There are many threads on discussing sudden weight related hairloss.
    I wish I could say it was a simple fix to just re-gain weight, but when hormones are involved, shit gets tricky. I have also been supplementing with the vitamins I need (many Dr.s visits and tests were done to determine which ones), and while I am happy with the small recovery so far, it is taking FOREVER.
    Thanks again, keep writing!

  • Noelle
    March 23, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    I am so happy that you are continuing to write your blog. This is a very good post and I’ve thought of the hair loss/ weight connection for some time too. I didn’t mention it in my previous posts but I went to the Philip Kingsley trichological clinic in NYC for three years. Basically they think hair loss is due to three key things – thyroid problems, hormonal problems and poor diet – specifically a diet lacking in iron. So when you first go in for a consultation they ask if you’ve had your thyroid tested, give you a list of birth control pills with the least androgenic properties and give you a list of foods to eat. They also ask you to get your iron tested. Their main treatment is a calming scalp cream and daily Rogaine combined with their diet plan. I was told to eat red meat 3 times a week or more as iron is best absorbed through food rather than pills. I was also told to eat protein with every meal. They don’t suggest Aldactone or Proscar – at least they didn’t to me. Every time I went there they would say – “Chicken, fish, red meat!” And they also told me to never lose weight.
    Unfortunately for me this routine didn’t work and I stopped going there. Dr. Redmond’s medications didn’t work for me either. Oh well at least I can say I’ve tried just about everything! Dr. Redmond’s a vegetarian by the way and hates that PK recommends that women eat red meat. He told me to never go back there. That’s not why I stopped going, if it had worked I would have gone there forever! Anyway, I do think that PK had a good point and that diet is related to hair loss. I saw tons of women come into PK with very severe hair loss and it was clear that they were anorexic. Also I met one woman who told me that she only eats raw food and her hair was the worst that I’d seen. And yes you are right about NYC women and hair loss – it’s an epidemic here. So there’s no doubt in my mind that there’s a connection, but I think it’s just one piece in a very complicated puzzle.
    Thanks again so much for your blog! I look forward to reading more!

  • suki
    March 27, 2012 at 10:05 am

    hello Jeni, love your site, especially the blog about procrastinating hair replacement…i am very similarly situated except for the fact that i am almost 64 years old!

    did you go forward with your replacement and if so, how did it go…i don’t see any mention in the blog list.

    thanks again for a great site!

  • Alicia
    March 30, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    I am so thankful that I found your blog. I have been thin as a teenager, then relatively healthy until my thirties. It wasn’t until I delivered my girls that I started noticing that my hair fell out in clumps! I would find it everywhere! My Mom told me that pregnancy hormones prevented me from losing hair and that now since I was no longer pregnant, my body was just catching up. Dear goodness!
    When my youngest girl was about a year and a half I had to have a partial hysterectomy and that’s when they discovered I has PCOS, which I had to have another surgery later to remove the damaged ovaries! UGH! Right now, in my early forties, I have never been this heavy before, it is difficult to lose weight, and I have noticed that everyone who talks to me looks at the light reflecting off of my scalp through my hair. I am a teacher at a large elementary school, I have constant stress but a good life. I have often thought about my weight being the reason that my hair if falling out! Thank you so much for the info, sharing, and encouragement! God Bless!

  • Lauren
    November 10, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    The reasons for hair loss could be different. But in most cases it is the result of some problems with health. Right nutrition is vital to support healthy hair and healthy body. In order to make sure I am providing all the necessary vitamins for my hair I am taking special nutritional supplement, which contains the unique combination of herbs and microelements. This supplement is HairGain Formula (90 capsules) by Military Grade. This product is the only nutraceutical which possesses prostaglandin D2 blocking properties. Awesome nutritional product which defends my hair from falling out and enhances healthy hair growth.

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