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 40 to 60 – but it can affect women at any age. In addition to genetic and hormonal changes affecting women in this age bracket, quite a few external factors may trigger excessive hair shedding and rapid hair loss. 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
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 the 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 improve blood circulation and vascularity to the scalp, which allows 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 essential 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 8 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 was 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. 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 is essential for the proper absorption of iron in our intestines. Therefore, vitamin C oral supplements have a role when hair loss is related to 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 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 may boost hair growth.
Vitamin E is essential 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 and 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 essential for the hair follicle's proper function and adaptogens to enhance scalp health.
What is the best kind of supplement for thyroid-related hair loss?
Dysfunction of the thyroid gland is a common cause of increased hair shedding and thinning hair. If you have abnormal levels of thyroid hormones or thyroid-related diseases, you need to consult your local physician for proper diagnosis and treatment. Thyroid-specific vitamins and minerals can be used to support thyroid function when blood levels of thyroid hormones (T3, T4) are in the normal range.
Iodine deficiency causes thyroid disease. It is essential for the production of Triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
Our thyroid gland contains high amounts of selenium, and a deficiency can lead to thyroid dysfunction. In addition to its role in producing thyroid hormones, selenium helps protect the thyroid from damage caused by oxidative stress.
Iron deficiency is associated with thyroid dysfunction. The thyroid gland depends on iron to convert T4 into T3, the active form of thyroid hormone.
Proper amounts of zinc are needed for healthy levels of T3, T4, and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
Vitamins B and E are also required for thyroid function. Being deficient in these vitamins can negatively affect thyroid health and increase your risk of thyroid disease.
An excellent example of supplements that can help hair and support your thyroid is the MDacne restore supplements. These supplements contain the optimal amounts of Iodine, Iron, zinc, selenium, and vitamins B and E.
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 often sold at Walmart or Amazon will usually contain low amounts of active ingredients and may not be as efficient as dedicated 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. In comparison, low-cost hair gummies 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 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 out this link for info.
How to use hair care dietary supplements
An essential 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.
- Female pattern hair loss: A clinical, pathophysiologic, and therapeutic review
- Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use
- The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review
- Inhibition of 5a-reductase activity in human skin by zinc and azelaic acid
- Role of iodine, selenium, and other micronutrients in thyroid function and disorders
- Iodine deficiency and thyroid disorders