Can Too Much Alcohol Lead to Hair Loss?

Guides ● December 2018

A lot of us love a tipple every now and then, but we’re also becoming more health conscious by the year. Whether it’s having a few nights off a week to hit the gym or just chill, going sober for charity, or cutting back on those big nights out – most of us appreciate the effects of a proper break from over indulgence.

Good news. So does your hair. Seriously. Buzz cut. Slicked back. Shoulder length. Whatever your style, your hair will thank you for cutting back on the booze.

“Alcohol consumption can contribute to hair loss in a variety of ways,” explains Dr Earim Chaudry. “We’re not saying that everyone who drinks alcohol will have visible effects – and those who suffer from hair loss may or may not be drinkers – but alcohol consumption has been linked to inhibited hair growth.”

Here’s the lowdown on why saying no to that extra pint might be the best thing you’ve ever done for your hair.

In The Balance

Your body is a complicated, powerful machine. It carefully balances the absorption of different nutrients to regulate its systems, including hair growth. Research has shown that drinking alcohol can lead to deficiencies with nutrient absorption. This means that even if you technically eat a healthy diet and consume enough nutrients, the body can set a limit on how much is actually absorbed and used.1 Especially annoying after you’ve been stocking up on those morning nutribullets.

Food For Heros

We all know how important the right fuel is. Two of the most essential minerals for hair health are iron and zinc. So eat plenty of fortified cereals, green leafy veg such as spinach (if it was good enough for Popeye…), soybean products and lentils. Red meat and fish are also key for upping your iron levels. Did you know that vegans and vegetarians are more likely to suffer from iron deficiencies, as their requirement for dietary iron is 1.8 times higher than that of meat eaters?2

The problem is that when you drink alcohol, it interferes with the body’s ability to properly process and convert these vital nutrients.3 Instead, your body is busy trying to detoxify itself from the alcohol you drank. A hangover is typically your body feeling the effects of the lack of nutrients combined with dehydration.4 Another reason to take a break from the booze. Or at least make sure you have a healthy balanced meal and plenty of water the next day. Trust us, your hair will thank you for it.

The H2O Cure

We’ve all heard it before: Drink more water. But when it comes to combating the effects of alcohol, it’s the real deal. That dry feeling in your mouth is your body’s way of telling you that you had one too many pints last night.

Dehydration happens because alcohol affects the body’s hormones that regulate hydration. Reduced levels of the antidiuretic hormone prevent the kidneys from reabsorbing (and conserving) water.5 The result? You end up needing the loo more often and you start to feel really thirsty at the same time. Those pesky hangover symptoms such as headaches and fatigue are also caused by, you guessed it, dehydration.

“Excess alcohol can cause changes in your hair,” says Dr Chaudry. “Dehydration can make the hair brittle, dry and prone to an increased rate of breakage. Conversely, being properly hydrated can ensure optimum hair growth and retention.” Time to swig more of the clear stuff.

Know The Facts

If you’re going to enjoy a drink or two, at least know the facts. According to recent NHS guidelines, it’s safest to make sure you’re not drinking more than 14 units a week.6 That’s five pints of export-type lager (5% abv) or a bottle and a half of wine – over the course of a week.

Certainly, when it comes to your hair, those beer-free weekdays are doing it the world of good.

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