Hair loss most likely to occur in September – expert explains why
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A balanced diet is critical for healthy hair, but overloading on specific nutrients has been shown to have undesirable effects. An excess intake of selenium, for instance, can be toxic to the blood in certain conditions. Some reports suggest the nutrient’s poisonous effects may manifest as hair loss and nail discolouration.
Poisoning from selenosis is rare, but the vast majority of cases stem from the ingestion of excessive selenium.
Snacking on Brazil nuts, which contain up to 90 micrograms of selenium per nut, has been identified as the cause in some cases.
News Medical explains: “There are also many other plants that have the capability to concentrate selenium that is taken up from the soil, which are termed selenium accumulators.”
According to the T.H. Chan School of Public Health, seafood, organic meats, and Brazil, nuts are the foods highest in selenium.
Most of the population obtains its selenium from everyday staples, like bread, cereals, poultry, red meat and eggs.
In 2020, a report by the International Joint Commission (IJC) Health Professionals Advisory Board suggested frequent intake of fish with high levels of selenium could pose risks to human health.
In fact, earlier reports in China suggest that reports of selenosis were commonplace between 1923 and 1988.
“In one small village, the population was evacuated after 19 of 23 people suffered nail and hair loss, and all the livestock had died from selenium poisoning, ” explains Science Direct.
Hair loss and nail damage are two major symptoms of selenosis, with some reports describing “massive alopecia”.
One such case was described by the International Journal of Trichology, which reported on a 55-year-old woman who presented to an emergency department with a five-day history of symptoms.
The patient’s chief complaints were headaches, dizziness, vomiting and abdominal pain, but a couple of days after her admission, significant hair loss was also apparent.
“It was noted that the had lost a significant number of scalp hairs on her pillow,” the authors of the report stated.
They continued: “This process started abruptly but was unremitting, and she not shedding of hairs in tufts while combing or even gently pulling her hair.
“Even a gentle pull of hair caused a painless extraction of a bunch of hairs, typically comprising more than 50 hairs.”
According to the report, other body hairs were spared and were of normal thickness.
The patient eventually admitted to purchasing a large number of paradise nuts – a relative of the Brazil nut – after discovering that they may aid in the prevention of cancer.
“She […] purchased two kilograms of nuts online and consumed 10 to 15 nuts per day for 20 days with the intention of preventing cancer,” explained the authors.
Because paradise nuts are rich in selenium, a causal relationship was considered between the patient’s recent nutritional supplement and her clinical presentation.
The International Journal of Trichology later warned, in 2018, that when supplements containing selenium are taken in high doses, a risk of hair loss should be recognised.
Fortunately, the patient received treatment for her symptoms, and within two months, her hair started to grow back.
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