Updated: May 4
Zinc Deficiency, Thyroid Disease, and Hair Loss
In discussing hair loss, people continue to search for a range of products and ways to strengthen their hair and increase growth. Most people neglect to understand that hair loss can come from many disease conditions. One condition, in particular, that raises a concern with hair loss is autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD (Hashimoto's and Graves)). The impacts of zinc and hair loss caused by AITD are rarely discussed and should be a main topic of concern when exploring endocrine diseases.
Vitamins and Hair Loss
Thyroid disease often recognized for hair loss is due to either the micronutrient deficiencies that arise or cause this disease state, genes, or poor diet habits. Most of the vitamin and mineral deficiencies logged in thyroid cases are zinc, selenium, copper, iodine, and B complexes. . Also involved in these processes are fat-soluble vitamins A and D. . Although all these nutrients can have a significant role in thyroid function, many of these nutrients are directly involved with zinc as well. Therefore, zinc being a major player in whether hair grows or not, should not be neglected.
Zinc:Copper Ratio and Alopecia
Another topic in this area to discuss is that when exploring zinc deficiency with thyroid disease, it is often missed by practitioners. An easy way to evaluate this is the zinc to copper ratio (Z:C). The Z:C ratio provides us with an idea of how copper serum fluctuates in its relationship to zinc. It can tell you the balance, and if zinc deficient or in excess, either zinc or copper will be off.
Interestingly, zinc is also often missed when physicians are assessing alopecia. Alopecia is a term used to describe severe hair loss. Most physicians will diagnose this disease or disorder in addition to another condition, leaving a case wide open for errors. If researchers properly assess, alopecia can be diagnosed by evaluating zinc deficiency in a zinc to copper ratio assessment.
Alopecia is a common sign of thyroid disease. A misdiagnosis could lead to neglect of the condition at hand. Although alopecia is often diagnosed amongst a variety of other diseases, there are still other methods to test for zinc that can relate this condition to thyroid disease. One of these ways is by examining the levels of alkaline phosphatase. This is because low levels of alkaline phosphatase can be a strong indicator of zinc deficiency or impaired zinc turnover.
On labs when looking at the percentage of zinc turnover or alkaline phosphatase, certain values can be of use for deficit determination. Viewing these values can be of great value by easily connecting the dots and could be a firm indicator that further tests need to be administered. Additionally, another way to test for zinc could be a hair sample. This can be another way of viewing the zinc to copper ratio. Even though this way is not preferred, utilizing it in addition to other tests can help confirm zinc deficiency.
How is Hair Loss Improved by Zinc?
Zinc improves hair growth because itis utilized by the amino acid L-lysine. This amino acid works in favor of iron, which works hand-in-hand with zinc. . In the case of hypothyroidism, oxidative stress can play a huge roll in loss of hair. . Since zinc works with certain antioxidants, it can help strengthen the process of detoxification. Proving this in at least one major case, like Betsy (2013), would prove that supplements could be superior to medication and work in favor of disease remission.
Zinc versus other Medications
Zinc can be superior to pharmaceutical medications. On study proves this to be true. Betsy and colleagues (2013), recognized that hair loss could be improved in clients by using different types of medications and supplements. . Nonetheless, they decided to do an evidence-based study on at least one nutrient to try and get some factual results. Since there is a consistent occurrence that medicine does not firmly show an improvement to hair growth, it was necessary for the method used in their study to be to administer zinc supplements. .
In their study, conventional thyroid medicine was replaced with zinc because the drug they were using was not showing improvement of illness. . After some trials, Betsy and the other researchers found zinc supplements implemented were proven to show improvements. . Furthermore, it can be proven that zinc therapy is an effective way to treat hair loss. .
Can Zinc Help Symptoms of Thyroid Disease?
Zinc can help symptoms of thyroid disease, especially hair loss. This is partly because of dozens of proven studies in addition to research showing that zinc is related to the impairment of the pituitary thyroid axis. . It is an obvious and strong correlation with thyroid disease that impairment of the thyroid gland regardless of autoimmunity or other causes can increase malfunction in this area of the body. Additionally, zinc is also required for the T3 receptor and T3 action, and T3 is used in all of the cells of metabolism. .
Lastly, zinc deficiency can also cause other adverse effects in the body as well. Because the thyroid is affected by zinc deficiency, thyroid implications can actually prevent zinc absorption in the intestinal tract, making it harder to get zinc from diet. Therefore, when diagnosed with thyroid disorder it would be only fair to assume that from the of results of the study completed by Betsy and her colleagues, supplementing zinc in moderate amounts should be recommended. .
Betsy, A., Binitha, M. & Sarita, S. (2013). Zinc deficiency associated with hypothyroidism: An overlooked cause of severe alopecia. International Journal of Trichology, 5(1), 40–42. http://doi.org/10.4103/0974-7753.114714
Guo, E. L., & Katta, R. (2017). Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use.Dermatology practical & conceptual,7(1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.5826/dpc.0701a01