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Are Hair Supplements Necessary? continued...

"The best source for the nutrients you need," Jacob says, "is a true, well-balanced diet."

Mirmirani says she is often asked about adding zinc or biotin supplements to a diet. "I don't check the zinc or biotin levels in patients," she says. "It's very hard in an American diet for those things to become deficient. And there hasn't been any good evidence that taking zinc or biotin supplements actually offers any benefits for hair."

Extra biotin probably won't hurt, "but it's not clear it does much good, either," Mirmirani says.

If you take a supplement, Jacob says, tell your doctor so it's part of your health records. Your health care providers should know about everything you take, even if it's natural or didn't need a prescription.

Hair Health and Weight Loss Diets

Weight loss, especially rapid weight loss from a restrictive diet, can cause major hair loss. "Master hairdressers," Gerbstadt says, "know without being told when their clients are dieting -- just from the changes in the hair."

"Women on a very strict calorie-deprived diet will lose weight very quickly. But it's hard to ensure they get the nutrients they need," McMichael says. Weight loss can also stress the body, which also contributes to hair loss. "Even if you lose weight very slowly on a doctor-approved program, you can still have associated hair loss."

It's common to shed hair after losing15 pounds or more. Be patient. If you're healthy, your hair will come back after weight stabilizes, McMichael says.