There are many causes of hair loss in women. Genetic-related hair loss (androgenetic hair loss, AKA female pattern hair loss) will usually appear in women in their 40s and 50s. That said, in some cases, female pattern genetic-related hair thinning can occur in women as early as their 20s and 30s.
What is female pattern hair loss?
With female pattern hair loss (FPHL), a woman will begin to notice thinning hair around the part line of the scalp and on the edges of her hairline. Typically, FPHL becomes apparent for women ages 40s to 60s – but it can affect women at any age. In addition to genetic and hormonal changes which can affect women in this age bracket, quite a few external factors may trigger excessive hair shedding and rapid hair loss as well. These include emotional stress, inadequate nutrition, and underlying medical conditions.
What is the role of Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in women's hair loss?
The leading cause of genetic hair loss is the effects of a hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone) on our hair follicles. Increased DHT causes the hair follicle to shrink and produce tiny, invisible hairs. DHT is a more potent version of the male hormone testosterone found in men and women. An enzyme in our cells, 5a-reductase, converts testosterone into DHT. Excess of DHT and testosterone can cause androgenetic hair loss in men and women, more acne, increased sebum production (seborrhea), and hirsutism (facial hair in women). Reducing the conversion of testosterone to DHT will help reduce androgen-related hair loss and reduce acne breakouts, seborrheic dermatitis, and hirsutism.
What are the most effective natural ingredients for women with genetic or age-related hair loss?
Saw palmetto Berry Extract:
Saw Palmetto supports healthy hair regrowth by preventing the conversion of testosterone into DHT and reducing the effect of DHT on the hair follicles. It seems that the most important inhibitors of 5-alpha-reductase are lauric acid, myristic acid, and oleic acid.
Pumpkin seed oil:
The pumpkin seed oil contains phytosterol, which prevents the conversion of testosterone to DHT and thus improves hair growth. A study comparing the effects of oral pumpkin on hair loss has shown an increase of hair count of 40% vs. 10% in the control group.
In one study, 88% of people that took oral capsaicin observed hair regrowth. In another study, applying a topical serum similar in structure to capsaicin stimulated hair regrowth in 50% of users.
Caffeine boosts cellular proliferation, counteracts the inhibitory effects of testosterone on hair growth, and extends the duration of the hair growth phase (anagen).
Peptides and Amino acids:
Oral l-cysteine in combination with retinol was assessed to treat diffuse alopecia and resulted in enhanced hair density and anagen rate . Oral l-cysteine combined with histidine, copper, and zinc improved mean change in total hair count after 50 weeks in 24 people with androgenetic hair loss.
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) stimulates human hair growth via its proliferative effect on the hair follicle. It was also found to block the activity of 5α reductase activity that converts testosterone to DHT.
Rosemary leaf oil:
Rosemary leaf oil is a natural plant extract that stimulates hair regrowth and promotes a healthy scalp and thicker hair. It helps to Improve blood circulation and vascularity to the scalp, which helps the regeneration of follicles, a similar effect shown by minoxidil.
Pygeum Bark extract:
Rich in phytosterols, pygeum bark blocks DHT's effect on hair follicles to enhance hair growth in women and men with genetic androgenetic hair loss.
Broccoli whole plant powder:
Broccoli is rich in antioxidants that reduce free radical damage to the scalp. B vitamins in broccoli extract can help reduce stress, a factor that can contribute to hair loss.
Tomato fruit powder:
Tomato fruit powder contains lycopene that plays a significant role in improving blood flow and helping cell restoration in the scalp, improving hair health.
Maitake and Reishi mushrooms:
Known as potent adaptogens, immunomodulatory, and inhibitors of 5α-reductase, these mushroom extracts support healthy scalp and regrowth of new hair.
Also known as the urtica dioica plant, it was used for centuries by Native American and European cultures as a hair loss treatment. Stinging nettle leaves also contain quercetin which is a potent anti-inflammatory. This effect can benefit most kinds of hair, improving scalp health and helping natural hair regrowth.
Aloe vera is an evergreen cactus grown in many tropical and subtropical regions. One of its ingredients, aloenin, was found to stimulate hair growth.
What are the best vitamins for women's hair loss?
There are various vitamins and minerals that you should include in your diet to support scalp and hair follicle health, prevent further hair loss, and help regrow hair. If you are dealing with female pattern hair loss, these are some of the key nutrients you should look for when taking hair loss supplements:
Having the right amount of vitamin A in your scalp is essential for healthy hair regrowth. Vitamin A deficiency results in severe skin dryness and can cause sudden hair loss (telogen effluvium) and hair fragility.
Vitamin B family:
The vitamin B complex contains eight different vitamins. Deficiencies of Riboflavin (B2), biotin (B7), folate, and vitamin B12 have been associated with hair loss. One study has shown that sufficient biotin deficiency resulted in patchy alopecia and brittle nails, and that hair loss resolved with oral supplementation of biotin. Folate and vitamin B12 have an essential role in hair follicle metabolism.
Vitamins B9 (Folic Acid) and B12:
Folic Acid and B12 help promote red blood cell circulation, supporting hair follicle health to produce healthy hair. Deficiencies in these two vitamins have been linked to hair loss. Folic acid (or folate) also helps with the keratinization of hair, meaning it helps hair follicles produce keratin for strong hair. An important note for anyone following a vegan diet: it is essential to ensure you're getting enough vitamin B12 through dietary supplements since it is primarily found in animal sources (including eggs, dairy products, meat, and fish).
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine):
Vitamin B5 and vitamin B6 are both known for helping to reduce stress – a common hair loss trigger. Both of these vitamins also help strengthen and nourish hair follicles for optimal hair growth and health. Vitamin B6 may also inhibit the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is an androgen. DHT can bind to hair follicle receptors, causing them to shrink and produce thinner hair, before eventually ceasing to grow new hair.
Vitamin C plays a vital role in the intestinal absorption of iron, chelating, and reducing effect. Therefore, vitamin C oral supplements have a role when hair loss is related to is iron deficiency. Vitamin C was also shown to cause the elongation of the hair shaft in cultured human hair follicles. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that promotes the production of collagen, which gives the body the essential amino acids needed to build keratin (a hair protein). It also helps the body absorb iron more efficiently.
Vitamin D is also crucial for hair health, as low levels of this vitamin have been linked to multiple forms of hair loss, including androgenetic alopecia. Early research has also shown that vitamin D it may boost hair growth.
Vitamin E is important for scalp health, as its potent antioxidant properties help reduce free radical damage to the scalp and hair follicles. Oxidative stress has been linked with hair loss. Vitamin E helps reduce oxidative stress in the scalp. A study of 21 volunteers who received vitamin E supplementation showed a significant increase in hair number compared to a placebo group.
Vitamin K2 stimulates blood flow to the scalp, bringing much-needed oxygen and nutrients to the area to promote healthy hair growth. It is also an antioxidant that helps protect the hair follicles from free radical damage.
What are the best minerals for women's hair loss?
The most important mineral for hair growth and strength is zinc. A study on human skin cells has found that zinc is a potent inhibitor of 5 alpha-reductase activity. Reducing the effect of 5 alpha-reductase can block the effects of DHT on the hair follicle and help with androgenetic female pattern hair loss. Taking Vitamin B6 with zinc potentiated the inhibitory effect of zinc on 5-alpha-reductase.
Calcium plays a vital role in your hair health. This mineral helps reduce hair breakage and also keeps the scalp from getting too dry. As a bonus, it's great for nail health, helping to prevent nails from getting brittle.
Iron deficiency is a common cause of telogen effluvium and can contribute to female pattern hair loss.
Selenium plays a crucial role in preventing oxidative damage to hair follicle morphogenesis. Selenium also plays a vital role in protein synthesis in the body, helps promote hair elasticity to prevent breakage. A study on people that took selenium showed an increase in hair growth.
Iodine, Magnesium, Manganese, and Chromium
These minerals play an essential role in supporting scalp health and promoting healthy and thick new hair growth. Iodine helps to keep hair follicles functioning correctly, and a deficiency in this mineral has been linked to hair loss. Magnesium is essential for scalp health. It prevents the build-up of calcium, which can clog hair follicles and hinder healthy hair, by improving calcium circulation. Manganese, which has antioxidant properties, helps with calcium absorption, while chromium helps metabolize proteins.
What is the best kind of supplement for genetic and age-related hair loss?
The best supplements for women with genetic and age related hair loss include DHT blocking ingredients. These ingredients block the effects of the male hormone on the hair follicles and allow normal regrowth of new healthier, stronger hair. For best results, these DHT blockers should be combined with vitamins, minerals, and peptides which are essential for the hair follicle's proper function, as well as adaptogens to enhance scalp health.
Which supplements do you need to avoid when experiencing hair loss?
Try to avoid the generic one-size-fits-all skin, hair, and nail supplements and multivitamins. Those low-cost vitamin supplements that are often sold at Walmart or on Amazon will usually contain low amounts of active ingredients and may not be as efficient as decicated hair treatment supplements. Another kind of "hair supplement" to avoid is gummies: these gummies tend to be sugar-loaded with minimal active ingredients.
High-quality hair wellness supplements that were specially formulated to help regrow hair, like the MDhair customized hair care supplement, Nutrafol, or Viviscal, can include up to 20 ingredients, while low-cost hair gummies with typically have 2-3 ingredients (and a truckload of sugar).
Biotin supplements for women with hair loss - should you use them?
Biotin is an excellent ingredient to have in hair growth supplements. That said, it's only one minor element for optimal treatment. A better choice would be a Dermatologist's formulated hair growth supplement that targets all the possible factors and deficiencies that can cause hair loss.
What is the effect of collagen supplements on hair loss?
Taking Collagen peptides is an excellent addition to the treatment of hair loss in women. Check this link for info.
How to use hair care dietary supplements:
An important factor in the success of any hair loss treatment is a commitment to the treatment. Look for supplements that provide all the vitamins and minerals you need in one capsule, that you can take once a day. Using supplements that require two or more capsules a day is less convenient and will lead to treatment dropout.