Hair loss is traumatic event for many people, both men and women. Whether the hair loss is due to age, medications, stress, illness, nutrient depletion etc... we want to do whatever we can to either prevent it from happening in the first place, or reverse it altogether. In this article, we are going to discuss the top vitamins and supplements used to prevent hair loss. We discuss each product in depth to give you all the information you need to choose which item may work best for you!
Vitamins And Supplements
Our first item isn't a vitamin or supplement at all! Aromatherapy has some of the most convincing evidence for benefit to combat hair loss. Aromatherapy has been used for centuries and involves the use of many different types of essential oils to improve our mind and body.
Essential oils are the aromatic constituents of certain plant with the most popular used commercially being lavender, rosemary and thyme. In addition to the relaxing smell and state of mind we find ourselves in when using aromatherapy, studies have shown positive results when used for hair loss.
A 1998 study, titled 'Randomized trial of aromatherapy - Successful treatment for alopecia' followed 86 patients diagnosed with hair loss.
The active group in the study (those receiving treatment) had essential oils (thyme, rosemary, lavender, and cedarwood) massaged into their scalp for a minimum of two minutes every day for 7 months. After the oils were applied by a trained aromatherapist, a warm towel was wrapped around the head to aid in the absorption of the oil.
The results of the study showed that hair growth was improved by up to 44% in the study participants after 7 months of treatment! The use of essential oils certainly seems to be one of the best and safest ways to prevent hair loss.
For your reference, the essential oils used in the study were:
We have all heard of the benefits of using biotin for our hair, skin and nails. Biotin has a large body of evidence and is particularly useful for brittle finger nails and thinning hair. Due to this, biotin is the most used active constituent in over the counter products marketed in hair, skin and nail formulas.
Biotin is simply an essential B vitamin, also known as B7. The term 'essential vitamin" means that our bodies do not produce it and we must obtain it through our diet (although a small amount of biotin is actually product by our normal gut bacteria).
Due to this, it is possible to have deficiencies based on how we eat. Although the FDA sets the minimum daily requirement of biotin at 30 mcg, most supplements contain far more than that... up to 10,000mcg!
Biotin is simply going to be your best option for a vitamin to take by mouth. Most other treatments are topical applications, directly to the scalp.
Apples contain a somewhat unknown compound that preliminary studies show great promise for stopping hair loss. That compound is procyanidin B-2. Initially tested on mice, there have been a few recent trials involving humans that have produced very positive results.
Using the product both topically and orally in a capsule extract, hair increased in both diameter and length in more than 70% of the test subjects. Most studies have tested procyanidin B-2 on men but there doesn't appear to be any safety risk with use in women.
Apple extract is available in both topical formulations (most commonly in shampoos) and also in different oral forms such as capsules and powders.
Beta-sitosterol is a supplement that is also found in a wide variety of over the counter products. It is most well known for it's effectiveness in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. The FDA has actually authorized the use of labeling health claims for foods containing beta-sitosterol, which is relatively uncommon.
Preliminary clinical research shows a combination of beta-sitosterol, in addition to another over the counter supplement, saw palmetto extract, can improve the quantity of hair and the thickness of hair.
Beta-sitosterol appears that it may only be beneficial in male pattern baldness, and not for the thinning of hair in women. Beta-sitosterol appears to work by inhibiting an enzyme known as 5-alpha-reductase, which is the mechanism of action of a popular prescription drug, Proscar, which is not to be used in pre-menopausal women.
While there have not been many studies completed that look into the effectiveness of oral garlic supplements, there is some evidence that shows applying a topical garlic 5% gel, in addition to topical corticosteroids (available by prescription), increases hair growth by over 15%.
Garlic shampoos that only contain garlic (and no steroids) are widely available to purchase in retail stores and on the internet. There are very few studies on garlic as the sole ingredient in products intended to improve thinning hair, but due to the fact that garlic shampoos are very safe to use, they are worth trying and may be very beneficial to prevent hair loss.
L-carnitine is an amino acid naturally found in the body and is currently a very popular sports supplement for fat loss and energy. Current clinical research suggests that topical L-carnitine may significantly increase the amount of scalp hair. One recent study used a 2% topical solution of L-Carinitine, applied two a day for a 6 month period. The results showed an overall increase in scalp hair follicles.
Onions are widely used around the world, not only for culinary applications, but also for a variety of medicinal applications. One recent study simply tested whether or not application of crude onion juice was more effective than tap water for growing hair. The patients in the study applied onion juice twice daily for two months.
The results showed over 73% of patients had hair regrowth over the 8 week period, although it was more effective in males (93.7% effective) versus females (71.4%). Aside for the potentially negative smell, onion juice is a safe and potentially effective treatment for thinning hair.
Raspberry ketone is a popular weight loss aid, mostly used by dieters to reduce unwanted belly fat. It now appears that it may be beneficial for growing hair.
One study showed that applying a 0.01% raspberry ketone solution to the scalp once nightly for 5 months increased hair growth in about 50% of patients after applying continuously for 5 months. The study authors showed that raspberry ketones increased hair growth by increasing a protein called insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) as quickly as 30 minutes after application. Initial hair growth was noticed after just 4 weeks from the initial application. There didn't appear to be any negative effects after using it and may be a possible product to use to combat hair loss.