Kelp is an algae or seaweed which grows underwater.
These plants often reach 80 meters in height and are usually brown in color. Kelp is often used as a replacement for table salt due to its high sodium content – there is 233mg sodium in 100g raw kelp.
Using kelp in place of table salt also offers other benefits since it is rich in nutrients like calcium, iodine, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, folate, choline, vitamin K, vitamins B, B12 and B2 and polysaccharides.
Kelp can provide us with natural source of iodine which the body can absorb better than chemical supplements.
Causes of Hair Loss
Common causes of hair loss are age, medical conditions, hormonal factors and medications. A normal person has around 100,000 hairs and normal hair loss rate is around 50-100. Since this is not visibly noticeable and hair grows again rapidly, hair loss does not worry most people. It is when hair loss is substantial that we need to do something to arrest it.
As we grow older, hair begins to naturally thin out. Hormonal factors of hair loss can be male or female-pattern baldness which are both hereditary conditions. It could be due to excess production of sex hormones which can occur at puberty. This condition is common in men.
Hormonal imbalances during childbirth, pregnancy, menopause or cessation of birth control pills can all trigger hair loss.
There are various medical conditions which can cause hair loss. When thyroid gland does not function properly, the resultant thyroid disorder can cause hair loss.
Scalp infections like ringworm results cause hair loss. Alopecia areata occurs when excess hair fall causes round, smooth patches are on the scalp. Other conditions like lupus and lichen planus can also result in hair loss.
Medications taken for cancer, arthritis, heart problems, depression and high blood pressure can cause hair loss.
Other reasons why a person can lose hair is due to emotional or physical shock like a high fever, accident, death of a family member or sudden and excessive weight loss; some people have a mental disorder which gives them irresistible urges to pull hair from any part of the body; finally certain hairstyles which cause us to pull hair very tightly like cornrows or pigtails can also cause hair loss.
Uses of Kelp for Hair Loss
Apart from the above causes of hair loss, loss or deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium, iodine folate and B vitamins can cause dry, dull hair and lead to hair loss. Kelp as we have seen contains all these nutrients required for maintaining healthy hair.
B-vitamins in which kelp is rich help with increased metabolism and therefore promote hair growth. It helps with new hair growth by encouraging cell growth and cell division.
Sometimes our diet contains high levels of calcium which needs to be regulated. Normal diets contain low magnesium levels.
Kelp is rich in magnesium which can balance levels of calcium and in addition prevent hair loss. Zinc deficiency causes thinning of hair. Zinc present in kelp can build cells, maintain hormonal balance and use protein in the body optimally. Zinc also regulates DHT (male hormone) levels in the body which is one main cause for hair loss.
Even those with no health problems can suffer from hair loss due to deficiency in l-lycine – an amino acid. Kelp contains this nutrient and can help prevent hair loss – one of the symptoms of deficiency of this amino acid.
Kelp has been known to help people with thyroid and other glandular disorders. Since thyroid problems cause hair loss, kelp can help proper functioning of the thyroid gland and prevent hair loss.
Using natural supplements like kelp or foods like sushi and miso soup which contain seaweeds is said to prevent various hair loss disorders.
Sea kelp is used in many hair grooming products like growth treatments, hair shampoos and conditioners etc. These are said to strengthen hair, provide nourishment and help with hair growth by protecting hair from damage caused by pollution.
Kelp is rich in laminaria angustata which promotes hair growth and thickens hair by the growth of the outer sheath of the hair follicles.
Instead of just using external products, the best benefits of kelp can be enjoyed when it is eaten. Only then will we get the full benefit of the nutrients it contains. Kelp can be used in various recipes and is available as flakes, powders or liquids.
Precautions while using Kelp
Check with your doctor if you can use kelp in your diet. Excess of kelp can cause an iodine overdose and various thyroid problems. Hence, it is recommended that you take kelp in diet or as a supplement for two weeks, take a break of 2 weeks and then continue again. Do not take it continuously.
Overuse of kelp can also cause arsenic poisoning. Hence use it in limited quantities.
Generally pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised not to use herbal supplements and this includes kelp supplements.
Those with iodine allergy must not use kelp. Since kelp contains vitamin K, those due for surgery must cease using it 2 weeks before and after their operation to prevent blood clotting problems.
While there is no direct link between kelp and hair growth, it does prove beneficial when hair loss occurs due to some medical condition or nutrient deficiency.