Hair breakage occurs when a strand of hair becomes dry and brittle. A hair strand contains a central canal known as the cortex, which contains water, making it flexible and elastic. Hair can lose its moisture and break off for several reasons, including aging, vitamin deficiency, oxygen deprivation, food intake, hair styling and medication. In most situations, hair breakage can be stopped.
Aging is the primary reason that hair breaks. The cause of hair breaking is the same as the cause of the wrinkles developing; loss of collagen production. Aging, obviously, cannot be prevented, but breakage can be minimized with the use of collagen supplements and hair care products that contain collagen.
Vitamin deficiency is another culprit of hair breakage. In order to keep hair strong and supple, vitamins such as calcium, iron, copper, zinc and iodine are needed in adequate amounts. Hair breakage can be stopped by taking a supplement that contains one hundred percent of the recommended daily allowances of these vitamins. Supplements that contain more than one hundred percent can lead to overdose and should be avoided.
Oxygen is necessary for hair growth. The body can be deprived of oxygen in several ways, including a diet high in saturated fats and trans fatty acids, smoking and exposure to second hand smoke. A high fat diet causes cholesterol build up in the arteries, resulting in loss oxygen making it into the blood stream. Smoking and second hand smoke exposure reduces blood flow causing blood clots which block oxygen. Switching to a low fat diet and avoiding cigarette smoke will increase oxygen content in the blood, therefore stopping hair breakage.
Fatty foods are not the only food type that can causes hair to become brittle though. Other foods include those that contain aspartame and monosodium glutamate. These chemicals are toxic to the body, causing poor blood circulation and direct hair loss. Removing these chemicals from a person's diet can stop hair breakage.
Hair styling is also a large cause of hair breakage. Daily routines such as flat ironing, blow drying and curling can dry out the hair cuticle, causing the hair to break. Other habits that result in breakage include brushing hair while it is wet, pulling it into a tight ponytail, braiding, and using a nylon brush. Avoiding these styling techniques can prevent hair from breaking.
A common side effect of many medications is the breaking of hair. Unfortunately, many of these medications are necessary in treating major medical disorders and may not be able to be avoided. If it is necessary to take medication, a person may only be able to minimize breakage and not stop it. This can be done by using hair products that contain collagen, keeping hair neatly trimmed and seeking the help of a professional stylist who can recommend specific products according to hair type.