Prescription drugs have been the gold standard but a new study reveals that natural hair loss supplements work wonders on thinning locks too.
The supplement industry has ballooned to nearly $40 billion-a-year in the US. Big Vitamin has skeptics, but a new study in JAMA says some popular natural hair loss supplements could be effective.
This was a systemic review, AKA, a study of studies – 30 in this case. This is the most reliable data because it smooths out some bias from smaller studies, often funded by manufacturers themselves.
One of the high-profile natural hair growth brands found to be effective is the one I use. Nutrafol (for women, or for men) is pricy, but the formula is comprehensive and now backed by this research.
Another popular brand JAMA likes is Viviscal (for women, or, for men). It’s a simpler marine collagen based formula, but it’s also less expensive.
Researchers break down why hair loss vitamins are worth trying
The JAMA study also focuses on the specific active ingredients that seem to combat thinning hair. These include Capsaicin, Pumpkin seed oil, Peony extract, Isoflavones, Omega 3-6, and Zinc.
“The main thing I would take from this study is that while it’s not a green light for all nutritional supplements, if a person is interested in these supplements, it shows that we do have some data to support their use,” explained the study’s co-author, Dr. Arash Mostaghimi, a dermatologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, (via TODAY.com).
Mostaghimi says supplements can be a good option because there just aren’t many great hair loss treatments. Also, vitamins tend to have fewer side effects. Often the worst reaction is a midly upset stomach.
Prescription hair loss drugs like, while more effective, can have serious side effects. Many men on the DHT-crushing drug Finasteride, or its stronger cousin Dutaseride, experience sexual side effects. Vitamins are unlikely to do this.
How hair loss supplements really work
Full disclosure, one of my first jobs was as a brand rep for Viviscal. I would drive around all day to pharmacies and dermatologists’ offices, and even wig shops, touting this supplement’s hair-thickening benefits.
The only proof I had though was a small-scale study conducted by the company itself. Few were persuaded by my pitch.
This peer-reviewed JAMA study would have made my job easier, and according to the research, I could helped some people improve the thickness of their existing hair. Like most treatments, regrowth in bald spots (for men at least) remains unlikely.
The researchers also caution that the overall quality of science in this area is bad. They had to pour through thousands of sloppy studies to find just 30 conducted with quality.
The bottom line is this: the best evidence now suggests natural supplements could be a useful part of your overall hair-saving strategy.