If it seems the medical community doesn’t recognize hair loss supplements as a silver bullet solution to balding, it’s because they aren’t. A sudden infusion of vitamins and minerals is probably not going to cause new hair to miraculously sprout like a bumper crop of corn after a drought. However, that certainly doesn’t mean that they’re useless. Hair restoration supplements do have very real, tangible benefits, provided they have the right ingredients. When combined with some research—and the proper expectations—they can have incredibly positive effects. Here are some tips on using supplements in your hair growth routine:
1. Supplements should not be the only thing you do
If hair loss supplements were meant to work on their own, they’d be called cures. Instead, think of your supplements as part of your overall holistic hair regrowth routine. In order to carve out a plan that will work best for you, consider all the possible reasons your hair may be thinning in the first place. After all, you can pop supplements by the fistful, but if soul-crushing work stress is causing your hair loss, you might as well be eating super glue.
2. Look for supplements that are proven to thicken or regrow hair
The hair restoration industry accounts for more than $4 billion annually in the U.S. alone. Unfortunately, the portion marketed as supplements goes through very little vetting by the Food and Drug Administration. Knowing what to look for on a label will guard you against the snake oil on the market.
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the ingredients you should look for in a hair loss supplement. For more details, check out our past article, 10 Ingredients to Look for in a Hair Regrowth Supplement.
3. Choose supplements that make sense for your condition
You can’t assume taking hair loss supplements is going to help your condition. You have to know the causes so you can choose the right supplements. Consider consulting your doctor for this one. While we live in the golden age of at-home research, your doctor can check your hormone levels or take blood samples to see how DHT is affecting you. While Western medicine doesn’t always leave a lot of room for doctors to comment on efficacy of supplements or other holistic aids, knowing the facts about your condition can help you make good decisions about supplements you’ve discovered in your own research. As always, the key is to be informed.
4. Supplementing vs. eating
Maintaining a healthy diet is often the safest way to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs. It can be tempting to let hair restoration supplements shoulder the load. They make it easy with their labels boasting impressive ingredients and daily value percentages. Supplements are not, however, a well-balanced diet in capsule form. From a holistic standpoint, getting your biotin and fatty acids from an avocado or an egg yolk allows those foods to benefit your entire digestive system. Plus, they provide protein that supplements often don’t. Guess what hair is made of?
Oh, and about those gaudy DVs (Percent Daily Values) on the back labels—any percentage over 100 is completely useless. Many of the common ingredients in hair loss supplements, including the B-complex vitamins, folic acid, and others, are water soluble, meaning your body only uses what it needs, and the rest is removed when it expels water. So, while it’s great that your supplement may have as much niacin as 18 pounds of legumes, everything above what your body can actually use in a day (100% DV) goes right down the drain. That said, water soluble vitamins are safer than their counterparts, because there’s no risk of overuse.
5. Supplements are part of your prevention routine, not your cure
What makes hair loss supplements effective is that they support scalp and hair health. When used as a preventative routine, existing hairs are strengthened, and follicles are fortified. But even a scalp strong enough to pull a bus won’t stand a chance against stress-induced catagen or hormonal changes. Don’t view supplements as a cure, but rather as one piece of a holistic approach.
Living a holistic life, when boiled down to its most basic definition, is choosing to make decisions that benefit the entire body. The aim is to promote health from the inside out rather than relying on medicines or quick fixes. Supplements can help in the long run, but don’t expect quick results. Expect long term results that improve your overall health, not just your scalp.
6. What else to include in your hair restoration routine alongside supplements
The surging market for hair loss solutions has produced a host of new research on the topic. Here are a few new advancements that are showing evidence of sparking hair regrowth.
Low level laser therapy
Thanks to recent studies, researchers are bullish on LLLT’s potential as a game-changing baldness treatment. Researchers agree that it seems to alter your scalp on a cellular level, promoting hair regrowth by stimulating the follicles into an anagen, or growth, phase. It also increases blood flow in the scalp, which has been shown to reduce the hair-thinning results of dihydrotestosterone, the leading cause of male pattern baldness.
People most commonly associate topical treatments with minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaine. However, the use of essential oils have gained traction lately. A great example is peppermint oil, which has has shown to be as, if not more, effective at actually regrowing hair than its chemical counterparts.
As we mentioned earlier, dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, is the key culprit behind pattern baldness. Without putting you through a medical school lecture, the basic process is this: dihydrotestosterone, a byproduct of your body’s naturally occurring testosterone, basically hijacks your androgen receptors, which regulate your hair growth and quality. Over time the dihydrotestosterone forces your follicles to shrink before settling into a resting phase. DHT blockers simply stop your body from producing DHT in the first place. Some natural options to try include saw palmetto and stinging nettle, or you can look into DHT-blocking shampoos.
Verdict: hair loss supplements are an integral part of an effective routine
Those looking for a quick fix will probably be disappointed if they battle their baldness with supplements alone. But if your expectation is to promote the kind of health that nurtures hair follicles, hair loss supplements will be a great addition to your holistic routine. So, do your research, pick out your supplement that’s right for you and enjoy the benefits.