Hair loss pills and supplements: What they are and what they do
Hair loss supplements are a simple and great way to help support the growth of healthy hair. There are plenty of supplements to choose from. In this guide we talk about the main types of supplements and how they can help your hair.
In this guide:
Types of hair loss supplements – All the main ingredients and the products that contain them
Best types of supplements – for men, women and menopause
Supplement FAQs – we answer your questions about all our supplements
Types of hair loss supplements
Below is a list of the main hair loss supplements you can buy. Click on a supplement to find out more about them and the best products to buy:
Collagen is a key protein that provides structure your hair, nails, skin, bones and joints. Collagen makes up around 30% of proteins in our body. It is made up for many different amino acids like glycine and proline.
Collagen is important for your body and it can make its own. Collagen supplements can ensure your body is getting enough for a healthy head of hair. But how does collagen actually work in the body?
Collagen and your hair
Your body breaks down collagen into the different amino acids which are then distributed wherever they are needed in the body. These amino acids can help stop thinning and shedding hair. They do this by helping to build Keratin, which as a protein that your hair is primarily made of (see more about Keratin below).
Healthy levels of Keratin means healthy hair. Keratin requires several amino acids, which studies have found are in collagen.
Zinc is required for various biochemical processes such as cell production, normal hormone levels and absorption of important vitamins and minerals.
In terms of hair health, zinc helps the synthesis (the production of chemical compounds by reaction from simpler materials) of proteins required for the growth and repair of cells in your body – including hairs.
Zinc and your hair
Zinc itself does not stop all forms of hair loss, but can help a very specific form of hair loss – zinc deficiency. Because our bodies do not create zinc internally, we must get it from external sources, like food and supplements.
Symptoms of zinc deficiency includes:
Thinning or lost hair– This is a sign of serious zinc deficiency. Your body is not getting enough zinc to synthesise proteins that help grow and repair the cells in your hair
Acne/eczema and other skin conditions – Zinc deficiency is required for cell production and repair. This includes your skin cells.
Testosterone issues – Zinc is required to keep hormone levels normal – this included Testosterone. Issues such as sexual immaturity, hypogonadism and delayed puberty can occur
Iron is an essential mineral. It is a key component of haemoglobin, which is the element in your red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Obviously, this is an incredibly important process for your body, so if your body is low in iron, problems can start occurring.
Iron and your hair
Similar to Zinc, Iron itself isn’t a magic hair saving product. Instead, healthy levels of iron can stop hair loss by ensuring that you are not iron deficient – also known as anaemia.
Anaemia leads to a reduction in the number of red blood cells. With less blood cells in your body, your organs will not get the amount of oxygen they need. This can cause symptoms like:
Exhaustion – this is the most common sign of iron deficiency. It’s also one of the hardest to detect, as people just assume they are naturally tired. If you are feeling weak, irritable o unable to focus, anaemia could be an issue.
Paleness – Haemoglobin gives your blood its red colour and that gives your skin a rosy hue. Low levels of haemoglobin can take the colour from your skin. Check the inside of your lips, gums or the bottom of your eyelids. If they are pale, you may be anaemic.
Shortness of breath – If your oxygen levels are low, you’ll feel out breath. If you are finding you are short of breath during normal activities, it’s worth checking yourself for iron deficiency.
Vitamin D is another key vitamin for general body health. It keeps your skin healthy, bones strong and stimulates cell growth. It also helps create new hair follicles, which is an important process for a healthy head of hair.
The easiest way to absorb vitamin D is by spending time in the sun! Even a 15 – 30 minute walk on a sunny day can do wonder for your vitamin D level. If you’re working in an office, make sure those blinds are up so you can get the full benefit of the sun. You can also get Vitamin D from certain foods like fish and animal fats.
Vitamin D and your hair
Vitamin D stimulates hair follicles to grow. New hair follicles help maintain hair thickness and can prevent existing hair from falling out. It has been found that a lack of vitamin D in your body can cause hair loss. Research has shown that people with alopecia areata, the condition that causes patchy hair loss, have much lower levels of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency can affect both men and women. Studies have found that women suffering from female pattern hair loss to have lower levels of vitamin D, compared to those that do not.
Quercetin is a plant flavonol that is naturally found in many vegetables, leaves, grain and fruit. A flavonol is an organic compound produced by plants that are not directly involved in the normal growth, development or reproduction of the plant.
Quercetin has garnered attention for its supposed health benefits including lowering cancer and heart diseases.
Quercetin and your hair
Unfortunately, there is little evidence that links Quercetin and reduced hair loss. Even the general health claims that have been made by Quercetin are based on small pilot tests. More studies are required before we can make specific claims on Quercetin health benefits. Although, it’s recommended
Because Quercetin naturally occurs in many fruits and vegetables, it’s quite easy to get Quercetin through a healthy, rounded diet.
Foods that contain Quercetin:
Amino acids are compounds that play multiples roles in your body – such as the building of proteins, breaking down food, transporting nutrients and synthesis of neurotransmitters and hormones. As you can see, amino acids play a vital role for normal bodily function.
Our bodies need 20 amino acids to function properly. These are broken down into two categories: non-essential and essential.
Non-essential amino acids are ones our body can produce itself. As long as your body is working properly, there’s no need to worry about them.
Essential amino acids cannot be made by our own bodies, and therefore needs to be included in our diet. They include:
Amino Acids and your hair
Keratin is a structural protein that makes up the bulk of your hair shaft. Certain amino acids can help build Keratin which in turn, help keep your hair healthy. Although, it’s not as simple as using amino acids to stop or reverse hair loss. Essential amino acids are needed as part of a healthy, functioning body – but you can’t expect upping your dosage to solve your hair loss problems.
The three most prominent amino acids in hair health are cysteine, Lysine and Taurine. Two of these amino acids are non-essential as the body can produce it itself. Problems can occur when the body slows or stops producing these acids.
There have been a few small studies around these to acids and their relation to hair loss/growth. A study conducted in 1998 had volunteers take 4 pills a day that contained Cysteine. Over a 50 week period, the volunteers had a 50% increase in hair growth. However, it should be stated that the study only had 12 volunteers actually take the supplements.
A study conducted in 2002 found evidence that, when paired with iron, Lysine can help decrease shedding in women with pattern hair loss. However, this could also have been because the women were iron deficient – therefore the iron in the supplement could be the ingredient helping decrease hair loss.
A study conducted in 2006 found that Taurine promoted hair survival and prevented certain deleterious effects on hair follicles. Once again, this was a small pilot test and more studies are required.
In conclusion, amino acids are clearly very important for many functions of the body. It’s imperative that you keep your body stocked up with essential amino acids. Just don’t expect amino acids to magically fix your hair health problems. Amino acid’s relationship with hair loss is complicated – but it’s still an important one.
Best amino acid supplements
FSC Head High Pro Amino
Suitable for vegetarian
Contains cysteine which counts for a quarter of hair amino acids
Keratin is a protein that is found naturally in hair, nails, skin and teeth. Keratin is one of the main proteins in hair – acting as an external protective protein as well as an internal structural protein too. Having a healthy amount of Keratin in your hair can keep your hair healthy and full.
Keratin and your hair
There are many claims on the internet of keratin supplements and hair processes. But, similar to amino acids, it’s a complicated subject matter. A lot of claims are trying to simplify this difficult subject matter. Simply applying more keratin to your hair does not necessarily mean a decrease in hair loss. A balanced diet along with supplements like Iron, zinc and vitamin D can help your body naturally produce Keratin.
Best hair loss supplements
In this section, we showcase our best hair loss supplements.
Best hair loss supplement for men
Viviscal Man is a supplement that contains many of the major nutrients needed for a healthy head of hair. Vivscal Man is designed to target male pattern baldness.
Why is it the best?
Viviscal has been developing and researching for their supplement for over 20 years. The product contains an exclusive marine complex known as AminoMar®. This compound is made from marine extracts, along with Zinc and Vitamin C.
Designed to give hair, skin and nails the right amount of nutrients for a healthy body.
Why is it the best?
Vitabiotics contains biotin which can help contribute to a healthy head of hair. It also contains Methyl Sulphonyl Methane (MSM) which provides sulphur, a nutrient found in the other layer of hair. Perfectil also doubles up as a complete multivitamin, so there is no need to purchase a separate product.
Calcichew is a lemon flavoured chewing tablet that contains calcium and vitamin D3.
Why is it the best?
Calcium is particularly important during menopause, because your absorption of calcium slows down. Vitamin D3 is also important, as we have previously mentioned, because it can help support healthy hair.
Like anything dietary related, when it comes to vitamins it is all about moderation. Before you start any supplement regime, you must inform your doctor so they can offer their expertise. They will be able to factor in your diet and lifestyle to ensure you are getting the right amount of vitamins.
Whilst toxic levels of vitamin intake is very rare, you still need to be conscious of how much vitamins you are in taking from your diet. Overconsumption of vitamins can cause bone weakness, nausea, vomiting and hair loss. Again, it must be stressed that these situations are very rare and you will have needed to have been overdosing over a long period for any long-term damage to occur.
If you are simply taking a standard multivitamin, you don’t need to worry. Most multivitamins have a wife margin of safety, so you are unlikely to harm yourself.