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How Your Thyroid Can Impact Hair Loss, Plus 6 Easy Doctor-Backed Ways to Cure It

MDs explain the surprising things that can contribute to a thyroid dysfunction

Have you been noticing more hair than usual caught in your shower drain or more strands accumulating in your hair brush? If so, you may be experiencing hair loss or thinning. This can be due to a large variety of different reasons, but one of the more common can be a thyroid disorder. Whether you have or haven’t already been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, it’s important to know the correlation between thyroid and hair loss. Here, doctors explain and offer simple solutions that can help halt hair loss in its tracks while also improving your thyroid condition.

“From my experience, thyroid dysfunction is the number-one cause of hair thinning in perimenopausal women,” says endocrinologist Sara Gottfried, MD, author of The Hormone Cure. In fact, German scientists discovered that thyroid hormones are critical to forming the cells (called keratinocytes) that make up the hair shaft, as well as sustaining the growth phase of strands. Unfortunately, incidence of sluggish thyroid jumps by 133% between early adulthood and age 48.

Related: Understanding the Hair Growth Cycle Can Help Pinpoint Why Your Hair Is Thinning

mature woman dealing with thyroid and hair loss
Suriyawut Suriya/Getty

Even if your doctor has ruled out a thyroid disorder in the past, consider getting a second opinion. “Physicians typically test levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH, defining the normal range as .35 to 5.5 mIU/L,” says endocrinologist Romy Block, MD, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Chicago. “But a high ‘normal’ number means your brain is trying to kick-start your thyroid.” In addition to a TSH test, ask your doctor for a free T3, free T4 and reverse T3 test, as well as a test for antibodies such as ­antithyroglobulin­. Your more nuanced results may indicate that you’d benefit from thyroid hormone replacement. But there are other ways to boost your thyroid as well.

Related: 9 Things Your Hair Can Tell You About Your Health

You’re likely dealing with low thyroid if you’re losing hair and you…

  • Are plagued with bloat after eating 
  • Have a low mood or sudden memory problems
  • Notice your nails are weak and/or brittle

Simple strategies that can help

Take this multivitamin

Tanja Ivanova/Getty

The body requires a number of micronutrients during the tricky chemical conversion of T4 (an unstable form of thyroid hormone) to T3 (its more metabolically active form). Women with hypothyroid symptoms tend to have suboptimal levels of the key nutrients, and to make matters worse, many multis are insufficiently potent, says Dr. Gottfried. 

She advises taking a multivitamin that contains the following thyroid boosters in the adjacent amounts: methylated folate (400 mcg.), selenium (200 mcg.), copper (2 mg.) and zinc (15 mg.). For extra thyroid insurance, choose a multi formulated without gluten fillers. (Read more on gluten below.) One brand that hits all the marks: Metagenics Multigenics Intensive Care

Related: 11 Best Hair Growth Products for Women Over 50 to Treat Thinning, According to Hair Loss Experts

Boost your vitamin D

The likelihood of a thyroid slowdown nearly doubles when vitamin D dips too low. That’s sobering news for the 86% of women who are lacking in this nutrient. New York City endocrinologist Florence Comite, MD, recommends asking your doctor to screen your level; if D concentration is under 30 ng/ml, taking a supplement, like Bluebonnet D3 1,000 IU will help. To determine your body’s daily needs, use this formula from James E. Dowd, MD, co-author of The Vitamin D Cure: Multiply your weight by 25. (For example, 160 pounds x 25 = 4,000 IU.)

Go gluten-free

The molecular structure of gluten (a protein in wheat, barley and rye) is a look-alike for thyroid hormone, and as a result, gluten can worsen hair loss in the millions of women who unknowingly suffer from gluten intolerance. “The immune system goes after gluten and ends up attacking the thyroid too,” says Dr. Gottfried. “And hair can pay the price.” 

To stop this cycle, Dr. Gottfried advises avoiding gluten for 8 to 12 weeks — particularly if you’ve been experiencing bloat after meals. In addition to obvious sources like bread and pasta, skip packaged foods that list “food starch” or “vegetable protein” on the label — both terms indicate the presence of gluten. If your hair and health improve during this break, Dr. Gottfried says it’s best to steer clear of gluten going forward. 

Herbed sausage and pepper bake:

sausage and peppers recipe that can help with thyroid and hair loss
  • 112 lbs. pork sausage
  • 1 lb. button mushrooms and/or fingerling potatoes
  • 3 mixed-color bell peppers, seeded, cut into long strips
  • 13 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh rosemary
  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Cut sausage into 1″ pieces. Arrange on sheet pan with mushrooms and/or potatoes and peppers. Toss with olive oil, chopped rosemary and salt and pepper to taste. 
  2. Bake until sausage is cooked through, about 25 min., tossing meat and vegetables once halfway through the cooking process. If desired, serve with mustard or any other condiment of your liking. 

Related: 6 Treats That Speed-Heal a Sluggish Thyroid and Boost Metabolism

More ways to boost your thyroid and reverse hair loss

Wash twice

Comfy clothes like leggings and sweatpants often contain fibers made with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), lab-­created chemicals that make fabric water- and stain-resistant. But these chemicals can also disrupt the normal function of thyroid hormones, says Aly Cohen, MD, co-author of Non-Toxic. The fix: Wash new clothes twice before wearing. This rids fabrics of at least 50% of chemicals clinging to them. Plus, adding 1 Tbs. of Borax per gallon of water will further strip clothing of chemicals.

Suds up after shopping

mature woman washing hands to help with thyroid and hair loss

Store receipts contain the thyroid-­blocking chemical bisphenol A (BPA), which rubs off onto cash and your hands. This becomes a problem when you apply antibacterial hand sanitizer after touching receipts or paper money. The reason? “Studies show that compounds in hand sanitizer push BPA through the skin, where it enters the bloodstream,” says Dr. Cohen. “BPA can decrease the production of thyroid hormones.” Fortunately, keeping yourself safe is as easy as washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water when you get home instead of using sanitizer immediately. Also helpful: Pay with a credit card and ask for an e-receipt.

Opt for low-tech headphones

Spending more than 2 hours a day talking on a cellphone raises markers of slow thyroid by 39%. That’s because putting the phone to your ear exposes the thyroid gland in your neck to electromagnetic fields (EMFs), radiation waves emitted by wireless technology. “The thyroid is supersensitive to radiation,” says Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, author of Zapped. But EMF absorption drops by 15% for every millimeter a cellphone is away from the body, so she advises keeping distance between your head and the phone. Instead, chat on speaker or use a non-Bluetooth “air tube” headset — the kind that plugs into the phone, so you can keep your phone a safe distance away.

Learn about more ways to combat hair loss:

Treating Scalp Inflammation Can Reverse Hair Loss — Experts Share the Easy + Soothing Remedies

Itchy Scalp and Hair Loss? Dermatologists Reveal the Surprising Cause + How to Speed Regrowth

Dermatologist-Recommended Shampoos for Hair Loss — Discover What’s Right for You

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