Hair is made up of protein. So to no surprise, my attention often shifts to the quantity and quality of protein in my patient's diets. There has been a remarkable increase in demand for organic food in the past 2 decades. There is a perception that organic farming is more sustainable, has better nutritional and health value, is kinder to animals.
Studies to date have started to show differences in the nutritional value of organic meats. Some studies have suggested organic meat is higher in beneficial omega 3 fatty acids (which may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease). Organic meats may have lower concentrations of the saturated fatty acids myristic- and palmitic acid (which were linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease). Whether other vitamin, mineral and micronutrients truly differ in organic vs conventional meats is not clear. Furthermore, and perhaps, most importantly we do not yet have a clear understanding of the impact of chronic antibiotic and hormone use in conventional livestock on the health benefits of humans. More studies are needed in these areas to better understand the magnitude of effect of health issues such as obesity, insulin resistance, fertility, heart disease and cancer. While these are clearer broad issues, they have important implications for how hair loss develops and how we treat hair loss. If possible, I do recommend that many of my patients who do eat meat consider substituting organic meats where possible.
Composition differences between organic and conventional meat: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis. Średnicka-Tober D, et al. Br J Nutr. 2016.
Food safety and organic meats.
Review article. Van Loo EJ, et al. Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2012.
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Vancouver office at 604.283.9299