Hair loss among men is prevalent, but thankfully, some supplements can support scalp and hair health and slow down hair loss. Below, we'll cover the most common causes of hair loss in men, as well as the best vitamins and supplements to prevent thinning hair and promote new growth.
What causes hair loss in men?
The majority of hair loss in men is a result of male pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia. With this type of hair loss, an androgen called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is created when an enzyme called 5α-reductase converts testosterone into a byproduct. That DHT can bind to hair follicle receptors, which causes them to shrink and produce thinner hair before eventually stopping new hair growth. Since men have more testosterone, they are more likely to experience hair loss than women. They are much more likely to deal with complete balding from androgenetic alopecia.
In this type of hair loss, hair regrowth in the follicles that have been affected isn't possible. However, men can use DHT blockers (both topically and via a supplement) to help stop hair loss. We'll talk more about that below.
While most men with thinning hair have male pattern hair loss to blame, other causes can affect men, including illness, stress, and certain medications. In these instances, hair growth supplements and topical products may help promote new growth and support healthy hair.
If you're unsure precisely what is causing your hair loss, it's a good idea to talk to a dermatologist or other healthcare professional to determine exactly what the root cause is so that you can create an effective hair loss treatment plan. You can also discuss any dietary supplements you're considering adding to your hair care routine.
Will I get bald?
Here are a few stats of the prevalence of hair loss and baldness in men:
- 25% percent of men who suffer from male pattern baldness experience hair thinning before the age of 21.
- By the age of 35, 66% of American men will experience visible hair loss. By the age of 50, 85% of men have significantly thinning hair.
- Genetically related male pattern baldness (AKA Androgenetic alopecia) accounts for more than 95% of hair loss in men.
- Contrary to common belief, most men who suffer from male pattern baldness are extremely unhappy with their situation and are concerned about its effects on their persona and professional lives.
What are the best hair loss supplements for men?
The best treatment for men's hair is a medicated topical scalp treatment solution that contains minoxidil 5% or plant-based hair regrowth activators. Combined with the right treatment shampoo and oral supplementation, the combined treatment reactivates the hair follicles and provides significant hair regrowth.
Here are some of the best plant-based ingredients that can help support hair regrowth.
Saw palmetto berry extract:
Saw palmetto is commonly seen in topical hair loss products, including shampoos and conditioners, but it can also be taken as a supplement. This herb is a natural DHT blocker, which means it can prevent the conversion of testosterone into DHT, reducing DHT's negative effect on hair follicles. This will help prevent further hair loss.
More research into the effects of saw palmetto berry extract oral supplements on male pattern baldness is needed, but early studies show promising results. For example, in one smaller-scale study, researchers found that men with hair loss who took palmetto capsules over five months reported improvements in their thinning hair.
Pygeum bark extract:
Like saw palmetto, pygeum bark extract (taken from the bark of an African cherry tree) can work as a DHT blocker. It is rich in phytosterols, which can block DHT. This means this herbal extract may effectively prevent further hair loss in those with androgenetic alopecia.
Broccoli whole plant powder:
Here's one more reason to eat your greens! Broccoli extract is rich in antioxidants that reduce free radical damage to the scalp, helping to create a healthier scalp more conducive to hair growth. Additionally, broccoli extract is packed with B vitamins – particularly folate or folic acid. This B vitamin keeps red blood cells circulating, helping hair follicles get the oxygen and nutrients they need for optimal hair health. B vitamins also help regulate stress, which can contribute to hair loss.
To top off those benefits, broccoli is also a good source of vitamin C. This vitamin promotes the production of collagen, which is essential for strengthening hair. Collagen provides your body with the amino acids needed to build keratin, a hair protein.
Tomato fruit powder:
Tomato powder is rich in an antioxidant called lycopene. Lycopene improves blood flow and helps with cell restoration in the scalp, promoting an overall healthier scalp with a better environment for hair growth. Tomato powder also contains folic acid, further helping support scalp health.
Maitake and reishi mushrooms
There are a few ways these mushrooms (which can be found in capsule and powder form) can promote thicker hair. Reishi and maitake both work as inhibitors of 5α-reductase (the enzyme that metabolizes testosterone to create DHT), meaning they can help slow down hair loss related to DHT. They are also adaptogens, meaning they can help the body deal with stress – a common cause of hair loss. Additionally, these mushrooms both work as immunomodulators, meaning they can activate the immune system. This may be particularly helpful for those with alopecia areata (a form of hair loss where the immune system attacks the hair follicles). The mushrooms may help support a healthy scalp and promote hair regrowth by strengthening the immune system.
Juniper berry and rosemary leaf oil:
Juniper berry and rosemary leaf are both evergreen herbs that may help those with thinning hair. These antioxidant-rich natural plant extracts may help stimulate hair regrowth while also promoting a healthy scalp. Rosemary is also high in vitamin B6 (which we'll talk about below), while juniper berry is a good source of vitamin C.
Vitamins B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid), D, & E:
All of these healthy hair vitamins are essential for maintaining scalp health and promoting hair regrowth. Depending on your needs, you can seek a multivitamin containing these vitamins or add a single vitamin supplement to your wellness routine. As mentioned above, folic acid (vitamin B9) supports follicles by keeping red blood cells circulating. Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, plays a role in protein metabolism and helps ensure hair follicles get adequate keratin. It may also inhibit the production of DHT.
It is essential for healthy hair, as low levels of this vitamin have been linked to hair loss (specifically alopecia areata). Finally, Vitamin E can reduce free radical damage to the scalp due to its antioxidant activity and has been found to increase hair growth.
Zinc, selenium, & copper:
These three minerals further promote scalp and hair health and can support hair regrowth. Zinc promotes tissue growth and repair, and a deficiency in this mineral has been linked to hair loss. Selenium is also essential for hair growth, as it helps fight damaging free radicals. That said, one of the side effects of consuming too much selenium can make hair loss worsen, so it's important to watch your intake. Finally, the mineral copper supports the immune system and helps support the formation of collagen.
- A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to determine the effectiveness of botanically derived inhibitors of 5-alpha-reductase in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia
- Anti-androgenic activities of ganoderma lucidum
- The role of vitamins and minerals in hair loss: a review
- Effects of tocotrienol supplementation on hair growth in human volunteers