According to the Huntington College of Health Sciences, you will most likely experience progressive hair loss after the age of 50. Your hair can also become dry, brittle and thin. While certain topical treatments may help combat this, getting an adequate amount of nutrients, such as selenium and zinc, in your diet is essential for hair health. These minerals work with your body to encourage hair growth and help prevent future loss.
Hair is a bodily tissue and as such, it requires certain nutrients to maintain its health and ability to function properly. The Huntington College of Health Sciences states that if you have a selenium deficiency, it may inhibit your hair’s ability to grow, resulting in an overall thinning of your tresses. The College goes on to say that a diet with insufficient amounts of zinc may lead to a compromised immune system that can result in hair loss. Both of these minerals are essential for the health and growth of your hair.
The University of Maryland Medical Center website states that selenium functions as an antioxidant and helps rid your body of the harmful effects that result from exposure to the sun and the environment. It also enhances your immune system, supporting your body's ability to maintain its proper functions, such as hair growth. Zinc is essential to your immune system as well, and it also has antioxidant properties. In addition, it strengthens your hair follicles and may help prevent certain types of hair loss.
Selenium occurs naturally in liver, butter, garlic, whole grains, certain types of fish and other foods, though the University of Maryland Medical Center website states that the selenium levels in these foods fluctuate. You can also take selenium as a supplement, and the Huntington College of Health Sciences recommends a dosing of 25 mcg to 50 mcg a day. Zinc can be found in oysters, red meat, poultry, shellfish and certain legumes and grains. As a supplement, 15 mg a day is recommended. Talk to your doctor before you begin taking new supplements.
Healthy people who eat a balanced diet should not have a selenium deficiency, says the University of Maryland Medical Center website. However, if you smoke, drink alcohol, take birth control pills or have a disease that causes malabsorption, you may not be getting enough selenium. A zinc deficiency is also rare, though it is more common among elderly people. Your body absorbs the most zinc when it is consumed with a meal that includes protein.
Selenium and zinc can interfere with certain medications. The University of Maryland Medical Center website warns that an overdose of selenium can be toxic, and too much zinc may actually harm your immune system instead of help it. Discuss new supplements with your doctor to avoid these side effects.