By Lindsay Pietroluongo

The average person loses about 50 to 100 strands of hair a day, which is totally normal. Shedding more than average can be alarming, and it may be caused by hormones, genetics, poor diet, age, radiation, stress, infection, chemicals, weight loss or disease. Often, hair loss is caused by poor nutrition. Zinc can help restore hair health and promote hair growth.

High angle view of a woman piling her hair up into a bun
credit: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Zinc enhances the immune system’s function to fuel hair growth.

How Zinc Works

Zinc is a trace mineral found in the body. Without enough of it, you may notice abnormal hair shedding due to weakened hair shafts. Your hair may be prone to breakage and slow regrowth. Zinc helps with cell reproduction, tissue growth and repair, hormonal balance, absorption of vitamins and protein synthesis. All of these bodily processes are necessary for hair growth. Zinc also sustains the glands attached to your hair follicles that secrete oil.

Dosage

Those who suffer a zinc deficiency and struggle with hair loss can take a zinc supplement. The daily recommendation is 11 milligrams. Fifty to 60 milligrams of zinc gluconate daily for two weeks is effective in protecting hair. Other zinc supplements are zinc chloride, zinc oxide and zinc sulfate.

Too much zinc can actually trigger hair loss, so don't go overboard. Taking a high dosage for longer than three weeks can harm your hair. If your body has too much zinc, other essential minerals—including copper, iron and magnesium, which are also essential for healthy hair—cannot be absorbed. Do not exceed 100 milligrams of zinc daily.

DHT

Our bodies contain a hormone called DHT that can hinder hair health. Since zinc raises testosterone levels, which can be linked with increased DHT levels, some fear that zinc ultimately raises DHT. Fortunately, zinc actually limits DHT production. By balancing hormone levels in the body, zinc reduces the chance of hair loss.

Diet

To incorporate zinc naturally into your diet, eat oysters, mussels, shrimp, red meat, poultry, liver, wheat germ, egg yolk, nuts and soy. Keep in mind that the body only absorbs approximately 30 percent of the zinc in these foods, so you may still need a supplement.

With a little discipline, you can keep your hair loss to a minimum. There will always be genetic factors at play, but it's good to take proactive steps to keep your hair luscious.