Do hair loss supplements work?

Dec, 23 2020 | By Dr. Sangay Bhutia (Hair Transplant Specialist in Delhi)

Hair Loss Treatment

There are more reasons than one that people lose hair. You may have heard that a normal person loses about 100-150 strands everyday, and that’s nothing to be alarmed about. But if you are losing more than that everyday, or notice that your hair is visibly thinner or you develop bald patches, it is something to worry about.

Hair loss can be caused by nutritional deficiencies, illness, a sudden physical or emotional shock, trauma, pregnancy, hormones, too much heat styling, or use of harsh chemicals, or it could be genetic.

Apart from genetic hair loss, hair loss caused by the other factors are usually reversible. These factors can mess up your hair growth cycle, and your follicles will be unable to grow new hair as they should. Research suggests that nearly half the people up till the age of 50 have some kind of hair loss.

One of the most important things to understand about hair, in general, is that it thrives on nutrient-rich food. Hair loves nutrients like iron, protein, zinc, omega 3, vitamin B, A, D, magnesium, and selenium. These nutrients together help hair grow and keep it nourished and moisturised. And, if you are not getting any of these nutrients from your diet, supplements can help. But do supplements help in hair growth or stop hair loss?

They might, especially if your hair loss is caused by a deficiency of one or more of the nutrients we just mentioned. But they should be only taken in consultation with your doctor. Here are some of the common hair supplements that are usually recommended for hair loss, and how can they help with hair loss and growth:

1. Iron
Iron deficiency is extremely common, and is a common cause of hair loss as well. This deficiency can be determined through a ferritin level blood test. The test measures the levels of ferritin, a blood protein which stores iron. Research shows that in patients with hair loss induced by an iron deficiency, supplements or a change in diet to iron-rich foods, can restore hair growth and arrest hair fall.

2. Biotin
Biotin is a B-complex vitamin, called Vitamin B7 and Vitamin H. It helps your body in converting nutrients into energy, and is instrumental in maintaining healthy nails, hair, and skin. It plays an important role in protein synthesis and keratin production; keratin is essential for the formation of hair and its growth. Biotin is naturally found in whole wheat, almonds, pork, white mushrooms, salmon, walnuts, bananas, and unpolished rice. Some people may have a biotin deficiency, caused by nutritional deficiency, prolonged use of antibiotics, smoking, or alcoholism, among other factors. This may result in hair loss.

Bitcoin supplements are often recommended for strong and healthy hair especially for those who may not be getting enough of the nutrient from their food. It is also often recommended to hair loss patients in combination with topical treatments like Minoxidil or Finasteride. Biotin helps in making hair stronger, but on its own it may not help in regrowth, but it can help in arresting hair fall.

According to research, hair fall can be a result of many factors. It is important that the patient’s medical history is studied and a health examination is conducted before prescribing biotin. Biotin is helpful for people with a deficiency, but it may not help with hair growth in people who don’t have a deficiency. It may also have side effects like nausea, diarrhea, or cramping.

3. Vitamin E
Known for its antioxidant properties and ability to fight the damage caused by free radicals, vitamin E can improve the health of hair, aid in hair growth, add shine, and make hair look healthy in general.

According to research, it may help in reducing oxidative stress, which can cause hair loss. Oxidative stress is caused because of the body’s inability to counteract the production of free radicals. Research also suggests that vitamin E improves blood circulation, which essentially means a better flow of nutrients to the hair follicles, stimulating them, and hence promoting hair growth.

While most people get vitamin E from their food, supplements can help in hair growth or make hair healthier in general. An overdose of vitamin E is not good for the body, therefore supplements should only be taken in consultation with a doctor.

4. Vitamin C
Also an antioxidant, vitamin C helps the body fight oxidative stress as well. A powerful ingredient for both healthy skin and hair, it helps in collagen production, which is an important part of the hair structure. Vitamin C also helps in iron absorption which is essential for not just hair growth but for the body in general.

5. Zinc
A zinc deficiency can induce hair fall; in fact it is a common symptom of a deficiency. An essential mineral, zinc is found in animal proteins and vegetarians are often found deficient in zinc. Research also suggests that men experiencing androgenetic alopecia or male pattern baldness have lower zinc levels in their blood.

Apart from hair loss, zinc deficiency can also cause poor immunity and a loss of appetite. Research also says that zinc is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor (5-ARI). It inhibits testosterone from transforming into dihydrotestosterone or DHT, an androgen which causes hair loss. Zinc supplements can be taken on a doctor’s recommendation and can help with hair loss in patients with a deficiency. Too much zinc has side effects such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, diarrhea etc. It should also not be taken with prescribed drugs such as antibiotics or diuretics.

6. Folic acid
Folic Acid is a water-soluble vitamin. It is a synthetic version of folate, a B vitamin. It is found in leafy greens and used in various supplements and fortified foods, and its deficiency is not very common. Folic acid is essential for the production of red blood cells. Experts suggest that it helps in preventing hair loss as well as premature greying. Foods like broccoli, dark green leafy vegetables, and eggs are rich in vitamin B9, and consuming these is the best way to get folic acid. It is also found in B Complex vitamin and multivitamin supplements.

Apart from these, nutrients such as vitamin D and A, selenium, and niacin are important for healthy hair. If you have hair loss, it is recommended that you get a medical examination and blood work done. It can help determine any diet deficiencies you may have which are causing hair fall. Doctors can recommend the essential supplements or suggest a change in diet, both of which can help in restoring the health of your hair as well as stop hair loss.

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