Losing Hair

Brush with long strands of hair
Photo: Depositphotos
Q: I've noticed long strands of hair in my hand and shower after washing (sometimes a lot) and more hair in my brush since I have grown my hair long. I have looked and seen cuticles on majority of the hair that comes out during shampooing.
I'm 26 years old (and also starting to gray) and hair loss runs in the women on my father's side of the family. How can I tell if I'm losing my hair or if it is naturally shedding? How can I slow down my shedding? I don't eat much protein. Will that affect it and will vitamin E help?

A: Well, reports vary from different studies as to what constitutes normal shedding and what is excessive. The long-established standard is that the average person loses approximately 100-150 hairs a day to normal shedding, but recent studies estimate the number of "normal" lost hairs to be closer to 35-40.
One thing that is known is that less than 1% of the hair on your head is in the shedding phase at a given time and that the shedding phase lasts approximately two weeks.
If you feel the loss of hair is more than is normal, or if you are experiencing any sensitivity or tenderness in the scalp, be sure to consult your doctor as soon as possible. The doctor can help you determine what is causing the problem, and more importantly, help you eliminate concerns that the source of the hair loss is a more serious problem. The fact that you have a family history of hair loss among women in your family, this may simply be genetics. You will need to consult a doctor to make certain of this.
As for a way to slow down shedding, the key is to keep your hair and scalp clean and healthy. This involves proper grooming habits (shampooing as needed, conditioning daily, and brushing to keep the hair tangle-free and stimulate the circulation in the scalp), and proper nutrition. Your hair is made up of connected chains of proteins (amino acids) and therefore your body needs to have sufficient protein in your diet from which to build the new hair growth.
While the vitamin E will not provide a miracle curative effect, it does help the body regenerate and repair hair and skin. However, if you aren't at least trying to get proper nutrition, vitamin supplements aren't going to be a tremendous help.
See also:
Hair loss
The 3 hair growth stages
Is wet hair more prone to hair loss?