7 Sneaky Reasons Your Hair Is Falling Out

Hair shedding is natural. You lose anywhere from 50 to 100 strands of hair per day. But if you notice larger clumps of your mane missing, there might be a bigger problem at hand.

You’re not eating enough protein

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Another reason to load up on protein at every meal: It helps create your hair. A lack of protein causes your hair to stop growing, fall out, and even change color, according to the Institute of Medicine. (Here are more sneaky signs you’re not getting enough protein.) Women should be getting at least 46 grams of protein per day. Neva Cochran, a registered dietitian in Dallas, Texas recommends that your protein intake come from a variety of food sources, not just meat. Adding half a cup of pinto beans to your next dinner gets you an extra 11 grams of protein. Try these 11 natural remedies for hair loss, too.

You’re not getting enough iron

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For vegetarians, or people trying to limit their meat intake, becoming iron deficient is a real concern, and a diet lacking in iron may lead to hair loss (and these symptoms of iron deficiency). Women between the ages of 19 and 50 should get 18 mg of iron per day, and women 51 and older should get 8 mg per day. But don’t run to the drugstore for supplements so quickly: Cochran does not recommend taking an iron supplement without having a proven iron deficiency and consulting with a doctor. Instead, add iron-rich foods to your diet. These foods include clams, soybeans, squash, lentils, spinach, and these 11 high-iron foods for vegetarians.

You're coping with a high-stress situation

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Feeling anxiety about your performance review or your annual doctor visit is unlikely to cause chunks of your hair to fall out. But intensely stressful situations—think: life-threatening medical diagnosis, death of a loved one—can trigger hair loss even weeks after the initial event. (Check out this other surprisingly common cause of thinning hair.) This hair loss does not have to be permanent. Your hair can grow back if you learn to control your stress, according to the Mayo Clinic. Learn the other at-home trick doctors recommend for thinning hair.

You use harsh products on your scalp

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Guilty of using hot tools for sleek, shiny hair, or straightening chemicals or oils to tame your locks? Your hair might look good for the moment, but in the long run, you’re damaging it—and raising your risk of hair loss. “The use of hair tools is a national epidemic, and all of these have very negative impacts on your hair,” says Omeed Memar, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of clinical dermatology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. (Find out the only way to use heat on your hair safely.) Instead try to buy natural hair products: ones that don’t list 40 scary chemical ingredients. You can also try one of these home remedies for damaged hair.

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You just gave birth

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Every expectant mama knows all too well: Your body goes through countless changes during pregnancy (including these hair and skin changes no one tells future moms about). Most importantly, your estrogen levels are altered, which, among other things, causes your hair not to shed during the nine months you’re preggo. But once you give birth, you begin to lose all the hair that you should have lost during pregnancy, says Dr. Memar. When it’s your first kid and you’re unprepared, it may seem like you are going through some kind of crazy hair-pocalypse. Unfortunately, there is no quick solution for this kind of hair loss. You just need to know that it will eventually grow back. The joys of motherhood do not include having permanent hair thinning. Regardless of when you're pregnant, the seasons might affect your hair, too; this is the time of year people lose the most hair.

You have a thyroid problem

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Your thyroid is responsible for helping to regulate important body functions like your menstrual cycle, heart rate, and body temperature. A problem with this vital gland can affect many aspects of your health, including your hair. According to WebMD, both an overactive and an underactive thyroid can cause hair loss. If you are experiencing abnormal hair loss and these other symptoms of thyroid disease, talk with your doctor to check your thyroid. Don't miss these other secrets your hair can reveal about your health.

You started a new medication

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Certain drugs, including blood pressure medication, can lead to hair loss, according to Dr. Memar. To find out if your daily pill causes hair shedding, read over the drug label warnings (yes, the same ones you tend to gloss over or even just throw out). But don’t stop any medication without consulting with your doctor first. If stopping medication is out of the question, try these other ways to stop hair loss in men.

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