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The cure for thinning hair might be waiting for you in the vitamin aisle

Hair transplants have rocketed in recent years — but research shows most store-bought supplements can counter baldness. 

Supplements ranged in effectiveness but over the counter pills like zinc, pumpkin seed oil, and a probiotic made from kimchi have proven up to 93 per cent successful in either thickening or regrowing hair. 

Other supplements such as vitamin D3 are known to play a part in hair density and strength but the evidence showing they work is slim and ‘low quality,’ according to researchers. 

The report marks the scientific community’s latest attempt to cure baldness. Japanese scientists reached a potential breakthrough in October when they successfully generated hair follicles in petri dishes using embryonic skin cells from mice. 

Hair loss affects roughly 80 million men and women in the US annually. Men have a higher liklihood of going bald than women, and the risk increases with age. About 30 per cent to 50 per cent of men will experience male pattern baldness by the age of 50

Hair loss affects roughly 80 million men and women in the US. The issue worsens with age. 

By the time they reach 35, about 40 per cent of men are suffering from visible hair loss. This percentage jumps to 65 by the time they hit age 60. 

A group of hair loss experts from Boston and Miami parsed through studies dating back to the 19th century through October 2021 that involved hard data point to the efficacy of different supplements for treating alopecia. 

They identified 30 studies that met their criteria and parsed through the findings to determine which of the supplements showed the most promise.  

The team highlighted twelve treatments that had the largest body of evidence supporting their efficacy: Viviscal, Nourkrin, Nutrafol, Lambdapil, Pantogar, Capsaicin and isoflavone, omega 3 and 6 with antioxidants, apple nutraceutical, total glucosides of paeony and compound glycyrrhizin tablets, zinc, tocotrienol, and pumpkin seed oil.


They identified three others, kimchi and cheonggukjang, vitamin D3, and Forti5, which have been shown to work but the evidence is ‘low quality.’ 

Hair loss conditions come in several varieties. Androgenetic alopecia is the most common type of hair loss, affecting more than 50 million men and 30 million women and can worsen with age. It is sometimes referred to a male pattern baldness. 

Telogen Effluvium is stress-induced hair loss and can be reversed. Alopecia Areata is patchy baldness that can occur just about anywhere on the body.

The most common treatment for alopecia areata, a type of autoimmune disease, are corticosteroids that suppress the immune system. 

Many supplements billed as hair regrowth agents have been written off as snake oils, forcing many people dealing with hair loss to resort to medications or procedures.

People experiencing baldness may also take minoxidil, also known as Rogaine, which is put on the scalp.

People can also opt for costly hair transplants, derisively referred to as ‘hair plugs,’ which rely on taking healthy hair follicles from one area of the head and moving them to balding areas.

A transplant procedure can set you back anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000.

Supplements are far more affordable and, while not quick fixes have been shown to curtail hair loss and even help regrow hair.

A probiotic made from kimchi and cheonggukjang showed improved hair thickness in 93 per cent of patients at 4 months. But authors of the report note that the study was limited in its small sample size and lack of a control group. 

After SIX months’ treatment, patients receiving ViviScal showed a 38 per cent increase in hair growth.

In a double-blind study of 55 people, those taking Nourkrin for six months saw an average hair growth increase of more than 37 percent compared to less than 2 percent in the placebo group.

The experts also considered Nutrafol, a supplement that has become very popular in the US. It helped women regrow hair in as little as two months with no adverse effects reported while men and women who took Lambdapil for six months shed less hair when pulled.

People who used Pantogar for three to six months saw a reduced number of hairs falling out daily. Capsaicin and isoflavone users have also shown an increase in the production of the hormone dermal IGF-1 that is involved in hair growth.

A 2015 study showed that nearly 90 per cent of test subjects who took supplements of omega 3 and 6 with antioxidants for six months reported a reduction in hair loss.

Apple nutraceutical, meanwhile helped subjects increase hair growth by 118 per cent, hair weight by 37 per cent, and keratin content by 35 per cent in two months.

Total glucosides of paeony and compound glycyrrhizin tablets were 82 per cent effective at curing or at least improving hair loss.

Of 37 people who took zinc supplements, 22 saw complete hair regrowth by the end of the third month. 

Meanwhile, 35 patients who took tocotrienol supplements saw more hair regrowth than a control group after eight months.

Pumpkin seed oil was also effective in promoting hair regrowth. In one study, 76 men with hair loss took 400 mg of pumpkin seed oil or a placebo per day for 24 weeks.

Those who took pumpkin seed oil reported higher scores in hair loss improvements and had four times more hair growth than those in the control group.

All of the supplements considered in the report had mild to no side effects.

Despite its widespread impact, there is no cure for baldness, though there are medications for the condition that have received Food and Drug Administration approval. 

The agency approved a drug for alopecia in June called Olumiant that boosted hair on the scalp by a third in a clinical trial.

The FDA has also approved Rogaine, an over-the-counter solution that has been shown to help roughly 50% of men with male pattern baldness. Another treatment, Propecia, is an oral medication that blocks the actions of the hormone responsible for hair loss.

The FDA does not have the authority to screen supplements before they hit the US market, so any claim made on packaging should be taken with a grain of salt.


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