When you think of selenium what is the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe it reminds you of high school and studying the periodic table of elements? Or maybe you know it’s an important mineral that you get from your diet? Regardless of what you do or don’t know about selenium, it is an immensely crucial part of any diet that has many health benefits, including some that you may not have considered.
If helping hair loss is not something you had previously considered to be a benefit of selenium, you are going to want to keep reading.
That’s right! Selenium provides several benefits for people who are dealing with hair loss. In this article, we are going to take a closer look at exactly how selenium can help you fight hair loss. By the end, you will likely look at selenium in a different light and may even consider asking your doctor about supplementation for hair loss.
Let’s get into the nitty gritty.
What is selenium?
If you payed attention in high school, you would know that selenium is a chemical element on the periodic table, aptly assigned the symbol “Se” and the atomic number 34. But, knowledge about selenium is much more important than just getting a couple of test questions right.
Like previously stated: selenium is an essential mineral. This means that you need to obtain it through your diet, and although you only need small amounts of it, selenium is essential for many vital processes in your body.
Although selenium has many potential health benefits, the focus of this article is going to be solely on how it may be able to help your hair loss. The two most profound benefits that selenium has for hair loss are: fighting oxidation and regulating the thyroid.
Let’s take a closer look at both.
Selenium is an antioxidant, meaning it is a compound that inhibits oxidation, but what is oxidation?
In simple terms: oxidation is the process of oxygen combining with another element. When it occurs, what are called oxidizing agents, or electron acceptors, scrounge the body for molecules to steal electrons from. Once an oxidizing agent has stolen an electron from another molecule, it becomes a free radical.
Free radicals are important and their formation is a part of natural human physiology, but if their production is accelerated through factors such as toxic chemicals, air pollution, sunlight, or something else, they can become harmful.
Free radicals are inherently unstable and stealing electrons from other molecules is how they try to stabilize themselves; this can cause cell damage. Studies (1,2) have found that, specifically when hair cells are damaged by free radicals, it can lead to hair loss and/or loss of pigmentation. So how does selenium play into all of this?
Normally, a healthy body will produce enough antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals and maintain the optimal balance of stable and unstable cells (yes, your body needs unstable cells to function properly). Unfortunately, part of the natural aging process is that the body slows down its antioxidant production, meaning that more cells begin to get damaged without additional antioxidant supplementation (this is what causes skin aging). Selenium can help with just that.
It is a powerful antioxidant, meaning that it could help maintain the healthy balance of free radicals that you would otherwise lose through the aging process, therefore preventing cell damage and the subsequent hair loss associated with it.
But protecting your hair from free radical damage isn’t the only way that selenium may be able to benefit hair loss sufferers…
Selenium helps balance your thyroid
There are two common thyroid conditions that can cause hair loss: hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). They are caused by either the over or underproduction of thyroid hormones.
Maintaining balanced levels of thyroid hormones is important as they play a crucial role in the development and maintenance of hair follicles. If they are not balanced it can inhibit your hairs development and possibly cause it to not regrow after shedding or worse; cause telogen effluvium (rapid hair shedding).
Selenium plays a vital role in ensuring that your thyroid functions properly. It has several different thyroid benefits including hormone metabolism, hormone reproduction, protection against oxidative stress, and DNA synthesis (1,2). This is why selenium levels are the highest in the thyroid.
It is very important to make sure that your selenium intake is adequate, not only because a healthy thyroid prevents thyroid-induced hair loss, but also because thyroid disorders can cause a whole range of other symptoms including:
Keeping your thyroid levels balanced can be a delicate and tricky process. It’s best to talk to your doctor for two reasons: to diagnose you if you believe you have thyroid issues and to recommend the best course of action to correct the issue (possibly involving selenium). Also, you can take too much selenium which can lead to selenium toxicity and a whole host of other problems, therefore it is best to get a recommendation from a professional about dosage.
If you think selenium may be able to benefit your hair loss, make sure you talk to your doctor first. Taking too much selenium can lead to health issues, including possible worsening of hair loss.
Selenium is an essential mineral that not only helps your body function properly, but can protect your hair against free radical damage and thyroid-induced hair loss. Take it with the proper guidance, reap the benefits, and you might just start seeing a change in your hair loss. We have included it in our hair loss vitamin Follicle Foundation (link here).