Mineral Deficiency, PCOS and Hair Loss

by Y on September 12, 2008

This Information was posted by Joan on this topic, “Stacy’s Hair Loss Story – Searching For Answers.” There is some pretty interesting and important information here that can be further researched and discussed with your own doctor to perhaps aid in the treatment of hair loss and PCOS. I never overrule anything that may possibly help, but please definitely always consult a physician before taking anything. We are all individual and take different medications for a whole slew of other ailments, so we want to make sure that anything we take will sit in harmony with all the rest of our meds, and that there are no contraindications. Here is the post:

Hi Folks,

It’s very sad to read all of these stories, but there may be help. It is perhaps very significant that many symptoms of PCOS can be found simply with zinc and manganese deficiency. Zinc deficiency causes hair loss, poor sugar metabolism, dandruff, acne, migraine headaches, menstrual irregularities, ovarian cysts, and infertility. Manganese deficiency causes poor sugar metabolism, migraine headaches, ovarian cysts, infrequent menstrual cycles, endometriosis, and infertility. The hyperglycemia in PCOS depletes the critical antioxidants copper zinc superoxide dismutase and manganese superoxide dismutase, as well as manganese-dependent arginase, all of which are low in PCOS. As a result, diabetics lose both zinc and manganese twice as fast as non-diabetics.

The ovarian enzyme that is impaired in PCOS, causing increased androgens, is one that is targeted by dioxin and dioxin-like pollutants like PCBs and flame retardants-PBDEs. These chemicals are estrogenic compounds, all of which deplete zinc and manganese, starting a vicious cycle of hyperglycemia and continued loss of minerals. These and other estrogenic compounds may thus be the major cause of PCOS. They accumulate in fat, which would explain why losing weight helps PCOS. Zinc is also the pivotal mineral for losing weight, for many reasons.

Replenishing minerals has to be done slowly, because mineral supplementation affects other minerals. In addition, storage iron (as opposed to iron in the blood) is raised in PCOS, and copper and manganese are needed to safely absorb iron and put it into the blood, where it belongs. I don’t have PCOS but I take 20-25 mg zinc, 10 mg manganese and 2-2.5 mg copper (for usable iron, also to balance the zinc at a 1:10 ratio max.), as well as 1 tablespoon cod liver oil every day (vitamin D and omega-3’s are necessary to absorb the zinc). Zinc and copper must be taken at least 2 hours apart from each other for proper absorption.

Exposure to estrogenic chemicals is so common now (bisphenol A plastics are everywhere, preservatives in our food, flame retardants in breastmilk!, etc.) that I think everyone needs basic mineral protection. I hope someone tries this formula, it should really be beneficial, but you have to be patient-it could take a few months or more for an effect.


{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

LaShunda September 14, 2008 at 11:49 am

I woke up today and I washed my hair and I condition it and I’m so genital with ever string of my hair. I let it air dry…I was in my room cause, when it’s wet you can see my scalp so great, so I stay in my room until it dries….I had for got that I was letting my hair dry,and my husband walked in and was talking to me and my son….I was really talking having a good time….But when they left I didn’t pay no mine that they saw my hair,until I got up and went to the mirror…Wow! I said to myself..I was so embarrass for me and them…I started to pray…..I’m so hurt about this matter…I get so sad at times of it….. my life is so confuse over it….I JUST WANT MY DAM HAIR BACK! THATS ALL I WANT!


admin September 14, 2008 at 1:38 pm

Hi LaShunda, I am so sorry for what happened to you today. I can just imagine how you felt. But your family LOVES you, if there is one place we should feel safe, it is with them. Your son and husband don’t love you for your hair, they love you for who you are. I wish I could reach out and hug you, I can read the panic and frustration in your writing and I feel helpless. I’m here to talk anytime. If you haven’t already, check out the network, set up a profile and start interacting with other women with hair loss, I think you’ll start to feel A LOT better. Leave comments on other women’s profiles, ask questions, they will surely respond and welcome you with open arms. Here is the link http://community.womenshairlossproject.com/home.php

You can visit my profile page here: http://community.womenshairlossproject.com/womenshairlossproject/

All The Best,


Julia November 19, 2008 at 1:53 am

Everyone, take note of Joan’s excellent suggestion. I am having tremendous success with zinc supplements, 75 mg/day. My scalp used to itch like mad and that has stopped. Even better, the amount of hair I lose every day has dropped to almost a normal rate and I have stubbly little hairs coming in! I think it’s going to grow back! My scalp feels so normal now instead of on fire, and that is an incredible feeling. I have been to three doctors and no one thought to suggest zinc.


Cathy bailey November 21, 2008 at 10:00 am

Sounds really great,Julia, how long did it take to improve? Did you also have a flakey scalp?


Julia November 23, 2008 at 3:48 pm

I did have a flakey, pink scalp. I had been told to use the shampoos medicated with ketocanazole, pyritione zinc, and coal tar, but they weren’t helping me much after months of use.

I saw a slight improvement with the irritation a few days after I started on the supplements, and a small difference in the amount of hair I was losing, after about a week of taking the supplements. After two weeks both are even better. My mother and I agreed that less of my scalp is showing, which I think is because of the stubble hairs and the fact that I’m not losing massive amounts of hair as it grows in. At its worst, my hair loss was between I-2 and I-3 on the Savin scale. For someone with more severe loss, maybe it would take longer to see a difference. There are a couple of case studies online and there the people took a few weeks to improve.


Cathy bailey November 27, 2008 at 8:14 am

Hi Julia,
this is very good news. I don’t often hear about how mineral help hair loss unless it’s iron. I did hear about a study that showed those with hair loss showed low zinc, calcium and manganese on a hair mineral analysis. I’m low in manganese and zinc. My hair loss has been going on for many years. I don’t know it’s candida or fungus in my hair or systemic, or mineral deficiencies, or both. I was taking lots of zinc and doc said to slow down because I might develop a copper def. IN any case, I’m taking a super power packed multi mineral/vitamine called Truehope which is supposed to cure mental disorders. I’m not sick, but it’s so comprehensive and full of good minerals, it should help my hair. Let’s put it this way, if it doesn’t help my hair, nothing will. Please keep in touch. Did you have any other signs of zinc deficiency? I’m very happy for you. cath Please tell me more about how your hair started to fall and if you were also low in iron. Also, plese direct me to these case studies you’ve mentioned.


Julia November 27, 2008 at 1:30 pm

In my case I started to notice significant hair loss when I started working out seriously and eating less meat and more vegetables, and losing weight. I don’t get it. Maybe my body had higher demands for zinc with all the exercise. Maybe I have a genetic predisposition for needing more zinc and all of these demands on my body just made that tendency shine forth. My grandma has chronic eczema, which is a sign of zinc deficiency…..maybe she and I have this in common? All I can do is guess.

I did have other signs of zinc deficiency. Eczema, dermatitis, general feeling of weakness.

One case study: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/117971160/abstract. A study of interest but not conclusive, no controls, etc: http://bariatrictimes.com/2008/09/19/the-latest-on-nutrition-and-hair-loss-in-the-bariatric-patient/ There isn’t a lot of research out there but there are a couple more case studies you can find w/google. I’m still exploring as much as I can other ways to help myself.

Cathy, are you seeing any changes from your supplements?


Cathy bailey December 11, 2008 at 8:58 am

HI Julia,
I’ve been on this power packed supplement since Nov 18. I take about 8/day. There is still no change and today it’s Dec. 10. I would have supposed a change by now. Still lots of hair loss. I’m beginning to think it’s not nutritional. I could have candida (I have lots of intestinal gas) I’ve been using Nizoral/T gel wihout much relief. I do have a fair bit of flaking on my scalp, but no sign of serious dermatitis/psoriasis. My thyroid meds may be the wrong dosage. It’s really driving me crazy. I always have new growth, but it never is enough to make it get thicker, it’s always thinner. The endo docs are so useless. they don’t seem to know which dosage I need to be on…..:-( cathy P.S.My blood test showed I’m low in zinc, manganese, vanadium.


Cathy bailey December 11, 2008 at 9:02 am

Julia, I’m taking a holistic nutrition course at night and I’m learning that animal products are a better source of zinc. (oysters are loaded with them).Vegetarianism isn’t such a good idea if your ancestors for many years were carnivores. I began losing my hair 30 years ago. It all started with a vegetarian diet. I was being stupid. Many people need to pay attention to their body type and diet. I’m a B type and I can eat everything, including meat. I suspect you need animal products to keep up your mineral levels. Good luck and keep me posted.


Julia December 11, 2008 at 11:49 pm

Cathy, I am with you on the vegetarianism thing. I really, really need protein. I used to eat very little protein and be extremely active. I wasn’t thinking! It was all wrong for my body. Now when I eat, all I think about is the protein content. (My new thing is lentils, I think they are the ultimate food. 🙂

I have good and bad days, but recently my shed is around 25 to 30 hairs. This makes me want to sing from rooftops! This is when I’ve had my hair in braids all day, shampoo and condition, and then comb it out. So that’s a full day worth of shed. And you better believe I comb and count meticulously! Please God, let this keep up and bring the new hairs in.


Cathy bailey December 14, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Hi Julia,
Firstly, I’m so happy about your hair regrowth!! I don’t think enough women know about it. They know more about iron/hair loss, than zinc/hair loss.
I’ve been reading about the importance of biotin and think I may have a def. because I seem to have characteristics of it: probably candida, brittle nails, hair loss, flaking. I have no sign of skin problems other than my scalp. The more I read about biotin, the more I realize that candida and a biotin def. occur together. I’ve just bought a whooping 5 mg bottle and started taking 2 twice/day. If I’ve got candida, which I think I do, it will prevent the biotin from being made in the gut. I also probably need to eat more probiotics. I’m already taking alot of B vitamins but now I’ll try this mega dose of biotin and see what happens. I’m just so sick of this hair shed, my left side is thinner than my right, and I feel so lop sided. Read this: :”Alternative Medicine Review: Biotin”, on the net. A very good explanation of the body’s need for biotin. Also read this from Dr. C. Pfeiffer, who was a mineral genius who wrote another book all about zinc. Here he discusses the dangers of vegetarianism:
“… another important nutrient that may be lacking in a vegetarian diet is zinc. Most vegetarians not only swear off meat, a good source of zinc, but usually accompany this with increased consumption of foods rich in phytates (beans, legumes, grains) which bind zinc, calcium, and other minerals in the digestive system. This can become a major problem if large quantities of phytate rich foods are consumed…. Adding to the danger of low zinc satus is the declining trace mineral content of edible plants, epsecaily grains, as a result of soil exhaustion (without replacement) and overuse of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers. Zinc insufficiency is one of the greatest and least known dangers of vegetarianism. The individual who does not eat meat must be careful to fill the need for zinc adequately probably thourh a tablet supplement….” From Mental and Elemental Nutrients, Keats publ, 1975 P.S. I make lentil and pea soup alot, my kids love it!


Joan Tendler February 24, 2009 at 7:34 am

Hi Julia and Cathy,
Sorry, I have not checked back for a long time and I hope you still do. I’m really happy about your experience with zinc-I would just like to encourage you to take manganese as well, and a little copper. High doses of zinc, like you’re taking, actually deplete manganese as well as copper, and a manganese and functional copper deficiency could be just as problematic for hair loss. For example, manganese is required for biotin to work in the body. Copper deficiency causes rough hair, split ends, and loss of pigment-definitely something to be avoided!
A telling sign of a manganese deficiency is reddish hair. Manganese is one of the least toxic of the trace minerals, and 5 mg/day would be no problem, especially for someone experiencing hair loss (maybe even more for a while). Getting all this in your food would be great but difficult if you’re really low, so maybe a combination of really upping zinc, manganese and copper in food (great list of food sources: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=115 , http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=77 and http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=53 ), and taking some supplements until hair loss stops would work.
It’s easy to get out of balance when supplementing with minerals, and food provides various complementary nutrients (like riboflavin –B2- is essential to safely bind copper, and copper and manganese are essential to safely bind iron, etc.) so whole foods can give you that (nuts and seeds -esp. pumpkin and sesame- and lentils-as both of you already know- are packed with all of these nutrients-just presoak them overnight or so before toasting or cooking and you’ll decrease the phytates to release the zinc).
Just a word about getting zinc from meat-meat also contains high amounts of iron that is absorbed by the body whether the body can safely bind it or not, so it can become unbound and toxic, as it is in PCOS. Manganese is required to put iron into the blood, and a copper protein is an important iron carrier, so just eating meat won’t help with low-blood iron if you are low in manganese and functional copper (both are generally low in meat, just high in liver). Spirulina is a great source of protein and safe vegetable iron-I mix it into pina colada juice. Chlorella is a potent source of copper. I too used to be a vegetarian and I felt run down, but I also ate sugar then, which depletes zinc, so it may have been more the sugar than not taking in enough zinc. I’m also much more balanced now with a “fishaterian” diet, and I feel great.
Speaking of B2, if you take copper supplements, or chlorella, you should probably take B2 supplements. 200-400 mg of B2/day (in small doses spread out throughout the day) also prevents migraine headaches, which are probably a copper problem (a friend with terrible migraines tried this and it worked!). B2 is needed to activate B3, B6, and folic acid, plus it is low in the diet and is depleted by chemicals, so it is a very important vitamin.
One good thing about taking a few critical supplements separately, rather than one multi-vitamin and mineral pill, is that most minerals compete with each other, with macrominerals being absorbed first. So, if you’re taking a pill that contains calcium, magnesium and other macrominerals, the zinc and manganese may not even be absorbed. Plus, if you take zinc with copper, the zinc takes out the copper, possibly depleting both (this is my own speculation, but the zinc definitely has an antagonistic effect on copper, I suppose the actual effect depends on how much of each is taken and what the body needs). Also, you can spread small doses of your critical minerals out over the day so it’s better absorbed.
All my best, Joan


Julia March 22, 2009 at 11:27 am

Thanks for the advice, Joan! I did not know that about manganese.


Julia March 22, 2009 at 11:37 am

Joan, a couple of questions for you…

In your research/reading, have you seen any reason that weight loss or anesthesia would cause a mineral imbalance? I’m just curious because these are the two things that precipitated weight loss for me. First weight loss with a restrictive vegetarian diet, then surgery. Both made my hair fall out like mad. The only thing that stopped my hair loss after surgery was zinc supplements.

Also, have you noticed any results from your supplements? Less hair loss, better health overall, fewer migraines? Just curious! Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.


c. eldridge March 24, 2009 at 4:59 pm


I am a 62 yr woman and i have experienced hair loss for the past 7 to 10 years. being a afro-american when if keep my hair braided and not comb it for three months at a time,my hair will grow, however, i am tired of wearing a wig. what test can i take to see if i am deficient of any of these so mentioned minerals.


Julia March 30, 2009 at 8:55 pm

C. Eldridge,
I found out I needed more zinc by accident. I started taking the supplement and it eased my scalp peeling so quickly (and slowed how fast my hair was slowing down) that I knew my problem had been related to zinc. So, I don’t know about blood tests. My suggestion would be to try the supplement regimen Joan recommended and see if it helps you at all.
If your hair is growing fine when you are in braids and not using a comb, maybe you are having a problem with breakage and not with hair loss. My hair was falling out at the root. I would rather have breakage, personally, because you can still wear a short cut and look cute. Keep us updated, I wish you the best with your hair growth.


Cathy bailey April 1, 2009 at 9:21 am

Hey gang,
I tried taking biotin in large doses everyday and it really helped, but then I had breast surgery and leaked fluid (not blood) for a month. I supposed I should have stepped up my multivitamins and iron, because my hair started shedding and falling like crazy. I had a blood test that showed my ferritin had dropped to 28!! Now I’m back to where I was last year, working to get my iron up. I now work in a health food store and have discounts on all sorts of supplements. I’m going to try supplementing with mang., cal, iron and lots of green supplements. This such a never ending battle with me. It also seems that whenever I start a job (I work now and then) that my hair really falls. If stress is a factor, then I think my hair will never grow in…because it seems I’m always under stress (2 ADHD kids and an OCPD husband) Any comments, please? I also have perennial dandruf….cathy:-(


Kris July 3, 2009 at 11:06 pm

does anyone know if the contraception pill helps with pcos hair loss? there are too many different answers on the web. has it helped anyone? iam 21yrs old, not overweight and i have pcos. the only side effects of pcos that i have is hair loss. i still have normal periods and no facial hair, only loss of hair on my scalp. can anyone help me with any answers?


Tatyana October 1, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Julia, How many times a week do you take zinc and do you take additionally copper? I was trying to take zinc 30 mg and vitamins for hair ( that had zinc 15 already) but did not have copper and I noticed lots of shedding, that is when I figured I was missing copper and I stopped. I am trying to find a balance between iron supplements, I take over 100mg and zinc? I think when I started taking iron, (low ferritin level), plus prenatal vitamins (they have iron), it depleted my zinc so can’t find this balance. How do you balance zinc and copper and how often you take it? I read on some websites that you are supposed to supplement zinc only for 2 weeks.


Emma June 4, 2010 at 7:17 pm

I am so Glad I found this site, I have been struggling with hyperglycemia and hair loss since. This was not an issue until 6 years after my hysterectomy my whole metabolism changed. I have been chalking it all up to aging…Now I see there is a culprit. I am going to read more and try to reverse some of these effects. My hair loss was the final blow… I was at a scrapbooking event at work and when I got the pictures back there it was clean as day you could see my scalp through my thinning hair.. how embarrassing and sad. I had heard Zinc shampoo would help, but it did not. that what lead me to look deeper. Thanks for being here, I know see light at the end of this hopeless tunnel.


Kort July 15, 2010 at 8:28 pm

sorry i couldnt help but giggle at this “LaShunda 09.14.08 at 11:49 am …I woke up today and I washed my hair and I condition it and I’m so genital with ever string of my hair. ” .. ok grow up I know. thank u joan for the suggestion. funny that no ones though of it before. Ill have to give it a try. like Julia my hairloss has trippled (was already horrible but sheesh). Im on a strick low carb, low calorie diet and am having good success losing weight but never put two and two together to realize the recent rise in extra hair loss could have something to do with less zinc from meat. Im not vegetarian but I eat VERY little meat like maybe 2 ounces a week. excess hair where i dont want it, not enough where i do… just cant win with PCOS.


Kort July 15, 2010 at 8:37 pm

@Kris: if hairloss is your only symptom of PCOS, perhaps your doctor jumped the gun diagnosing you with PCOS. Some believe that doctors are diagnosing women with PCOS when they arent… just saying. usually 1 singular symptom is not enough to be diagnosed with a disease.

@Emma: the difference between shampoos vs. pills/supplements could be that some minerals cannot be absorbed through the skin but instead have to be consumed. Zinc shampoos are similar to collagen shampoos, they dont work because as far as collagen goes it cant be absorbed through skin. its just a gimmick to get consumers to spend their money. “try the new hollywood shampoo that stars use to stay looking young.” NOT! their secret to staying young looking is plastic surgery.

arent prenatal pills supposed to be good? i know they contain iron right? ive heard women say it helps. arent we not supposed to take too much iron? i was always kind of scared about those. do we take them daily?


khia October 18, 2010 at 2:13 pm

I am so glad I found this site. I am a cosmetologist an find very often that my clients in their 40’s are sheddding hair. A few of them are diabetic, pcos and some are on high blood pressure meds. I myself suffer from pcos and fertility issues and have notices hair thinning,reddish hair and brittleness over the past few years.I started prenatial vitamins 2 months ago and the shedding doesn’t seem as bad although I still notice an excess amount per day. Do u think zinc and manganese will help my situation??



Gina November 4, 2013 at 9:29 pm

As my hair continues to thin, I have noticed something else and want to ask if anyone knows why. Sometimes my scalp feels like it is on fire. Why is this and what do I need to do to stop the hair loss? Thanks for your help.


Smita Gandhar June 1, 2015 at 7:22 am


I have been losing hair since after the birth of my son in 2007. I have taken everything from spironolactone to thyroxine and metformin. I suffer from PCOS and hypothyroidism. For the past 3-4 years my scalp felt like it was on fire and I had painful bumps on my scalp. My doctor prescribed doxycyline as she thought I had folliculitis but that did not help. Thyroxine did not help and I was going stir crazy mourning the loss of my beautiful hair.

2 weeks ago I was at the chemist to get my prescription filled up and while I waiting to get the medicines, I noticed that they were conducting free Zinc Deficiency checks. I went up to them to get myself tested. The lady conducting the tests asked me to swirl a mouthful of liquid in my mouth for 10 seconds and spit it out. If I was Zinc Deficient, the liquid would be tasteless whereas if I had normal levels of Zinc, the liquid would taste sour. Well, to cut the long story short, I did not taste anything. On an impulse I then bought a powder zinc supplement. Funnily enough, after taking the recommended dose of 25 mg, I was surprised to see next day that my comb had only two hair stuck in it whereas it would normally at least be 50. I am continuing to with the zinc and am happy to say that my scalp feels cool and normal after such a long long time and I am no longer shedding like crazy. At most I must lose 10-20 strands of hair a day. I was actually quite shocked with the results. Also, the frequent upset stomach which I thought was caused by taking thyroxine seems to have settled down. I am taking other multi vitamins and use ancient minerals magnesium oil on my legs to keep the magnesium levels in sync. I also drink water from a Cooper pot to keep my copper levels up. I am writing this in the hope that it may help others who may be going through something similar to me.




Halina July 1, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Hello, girls!
I’ve been struggling hair loss for 7 years. I had a surgery in 2011, so the doctor told me it was probably the anesthesia.
I’ve visited about 8 different dermatologists, all the same. Topic minoxidil made my scalp on fire and after, allergy.
So, few months ago I’ve visited an endocrinologist, he’s a chairman professor of a renomated university here in my country. After many years, I was correctly diagnosed with PCOS, caused by insulin resistance. All the simptons: terrible migraines (on and off period), depression, severe hair loss (androgenetic pattern), acne, infertility, obesity, hirsuthism). But my periods are regular (just the one that could be absent).
I just started taking metformin and my hair is not falling out as it used to.
I hope I can come back here bringing great news!!!


Sierra November 25, 2017 at 9:26 pm

My scalp felt like it was on fire severely after someone left relaxer in my hair. A Neutralizing shampoo (which you can find at Sally’s Beauty Supply) used on my head several times in a row and after rinsing it out completely letting cold water run on it. This deactivates the relaxer which is alkaline. If you have not had any chemical treatments to your hair, then disregard this and I would suggest a doctor.


KE June 13, 2018 at 5:11 pm

Hi Joan, thanks for the great article. I am wondering if you know anything about the role of chromium in regard to hair loss. Mine has been falling for over a year (with bouts of regrowth here and there, but it hasn’t stopped falling). I recently had a Spectracell micronutrient test done and am deficient in chromium and D3 (I do supplement with D3 already and have been borderline deficient in the past). I was borderline deficient for zinc, A, oleic and lipoic acid, biotin (I’ve been taking 5000 – 8000 mcg a day for 6 or more months now), B2 (I have been on the iodine protocol, taking over 100 mg a day of B2 per day, since early Oct, but have not been spacing it out.) Should I take copper if I was ok for copper? I’ve been deficient in past tests over a year ago but was fine this time. I’m a little scared to take fish oil because I’ve read things online about people having hair loss after starting fish oil or flax oil. Thanks so much for any feedback.


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