Most of us are guilty when it comes to eating excessively salty foods. In fact, most people consume about 33% more sodium than recommended. We know these snacks aren’t healthy for our waistline, but could they also be a contributor to hair loss?
Sodium’s Effect on Hair
The short answer is yes, a super salty diet can be detrimental to hair health.
When you have too much sodium in your body, salt deposits are more likely to develop in and around hair follicles. This negatively effects circulation to the follicles and prevents strands from receiving the nutrients they need to grow at their greatest potential. Over time, regular unhealthy and salty eating habits could result in dull, unhealthy hair and even hair loss.
The US Food and Drug Administration recommends a daily sodium intake of about 2,300 milligrams, and 1,500 milligrams for those over 50 years of age. However, most people consume well over 3,000 milligrams of sodium daily.
While it’s known that sodas, junk snacks and foods containing preservatives are high in salt, there are many foods that also contain above average salt levels that may not come to mind immediately.
Beware of these deceptively salty foods:
- Smoked or cured meats
- Tuna/chicken salads
- Frozen meals
- Canned vegetables
The best method to reducing your sodium intake is by cooking fresh foods from scratch, and avoiding over processed foods or those which contain preservatives.
Some of the foods listed above, including nuts and salmon, are full of healthy hair nutrients when you eat the fresh versions. A little meal planning goes a long way in cutting down on sodium and achieving healthier hair.
The Relationship between Potassium and Sodium
Regardless of your salt consumption, there’s another nutrient that works alongside sodium to counteract its properties.
For every milligram of sodium ingested, you should be getting the same amount of potassium to keep your body balanced. While sodium causes water retention, potassium does the opposite.
If you have higher levels of sodium in your body in relation to potassium, potassium cannot work its magic. If your regular diet has a lot of salt, make sure to add in extra potassium with foods like whole grains, leafy greens and bananas.
Too Little Salt
Even though most people are likely to have excess salt in their diet, there is a risk of salt deficiency as well.
If you do not get enough iodized table salt, your body’s iodine content reduces – and iodine has been credited as being essential for healthy thyroid function. If your thyroid is not working properly, your hair health can suffer.
If your hair appears dull and lifeless and you show other symptoms of thyroid imbalances, it’s wise to have your thyroid and iodine levels analyzed. Just like sodium, it is possible to have an over or under abundance of iodine in your diet.
A sensible diet with the right sodium, iodine and potassium balance can make a big difference in the way your hair looks and feels.