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Most people lose between 50 and 150 strands of hair every day. A few people lose as many as 200 hairs a day. If you already have thick, luxuriant hair, it's only natural that you should lose more hair than other people.

That's because at any given time about 90 percent of your hair is in its anagen, or growth phase. Over a period of three to five years, each strand of hair will grow 450 mm or even to nearly a meter (a foot to three feet). About 10 percent of your hair is in its telogen phase. In this phase, it rests for about three months and then falls out. If you give hair in its telogen phase a tug, it will come out sooner. (There is also a catagen phase in which the hair follicle is "shutting down" for about 10 days between the anagen and telogen phases.) If you have a lot of hair on your head, you will have a lot of hair in its telogen phase, and there is a lot of hair you can pull out, as long as you don't start yanking so hard you pull out hair that is still growing, without going bald.

Here's how to tell whether your hair loss is normal — hair shedding, and won't result in baldness, or excessive hair loss, and a talk with your doctor would be a good idea:

1. Take about an inch (25 mm) of hair between your fingers and just lightly run your fingers down the strand.

2. If no more than 10 hairs come out, you have a normal percentage of hair in its telogen phase. There's nothing to worry about.

3. If 10 or more hairs fall out, then you may be losing an unusually large amount of hair and intervention may be necessary.

Losing a lot of hair without male-pattern baldness or some other kind of alopecia is known as telogen effluvium. In this condition, you simply have an unusually large amount of hair in its telogen phase. Some of the causes of telogen effluvium include:

1. Rigorous dieting. You body as a whole does not get enough nutrients, especially protein, so it shuts down hair growth. More hairs than normal are sent into the telogen phase of the growth cycle.

2. Vitamin and mineral deficiency. The deficient nutrients in telogen effluvium are typically vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, and zinc. Vitamin B12 deficiency is particularly common after the age of 60, as the stomach stops producing as much of its digestive acids. It also fails to make an "intrinsic factor" that transports vitamin B12 from food into the bloodstream. Vitamin D deficiencies can occur in over-fat people even if they get lots of sun. The fat underneath the skin traps the vitamin D and keeps it from entering the bloodstream. Iron and zinc deficiencies are most common in people who go on vegan diets, but it's important to remember that when it comes to iron and zinc supplementation, more is not necessarily better. You should get a blood test to make sure your ferritin levels are low before you take iron supplements. Limit your consumption of zinc supplements to 30 mg of elemental zinc a day so you don't interfere with your body's absorption of copper. It is theoretically possible for teenage males to masturbate so often that they become zinc-deficient, but a zinc supplement would compensate for this. Remember, your vitamins need to go to your hair follicles, not to your hair itself. Take them orally. Don't try to get them by shampooing your hair.

3. Harsh treatment of your hair. Pomades, curling irons, steel brushes, harsh detergent shampoos that make lots of bubbles, and harsh chemical dyes can make your hair fall out. Just avoid them. Use a diffuser on your blow dryer to reduce the heating of your scalp. Comb gently and avoid tangles.

Everyone loses hair. The goal is to avoid losing hair faster than it grows back. When hair growth doesn't keep up with hair loss despite your good hair care habits, see your doctor for solutions that may save your hair.

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