Holistic Solutions for Men's Hair Loss
Written By Nicole Crane, B.S., NTP
For some men, the words “Male Pattern Baldness” are considered to be among the most appalling words in the English language. Hair loss cures and baldness remedies are desired nearly as much as weight loss cures. And, while many are ineffective, there are several natural remedies that may actually yield prolific results.
The American Hair Loss Association states that two thirds of men experience some hair loss by age 35 and 85% of men have lost a significant amount of hair by age 50.i Hair loss in men can be the result of genetics, nutrient deficiencies, hormone imbalances, clogged oil glands and hair, and even prolonged stress. The good news is men do not have to resort to prescriptions, surgery or gimmicky topical remedies to restore fullness and thickness to their hair.
Testosterone Could be to Blame
When confronting hair loss, one of the most important aspects to address is a hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone). The male dominant hormone testosterone can be converted into DHT through an enzyme called Type II 5-alpha-reductase. While some DHT is helpful for repairing micro damage to tissues like the prostate, too much can be harmful. Excess DHT has been implicated in overgrowth of the prostate (a condition called BPH, benign prostatic hyperplasia) acne and hair loss. Male pattern baldness, where most hair is lost from the front and top of the head, is often the result of hair and hair follicles in this area are particularly susceptible to the negative effects of too much DHT. The enzyme, Type II 5-alpha-reductase, that converts healthy testosterone to undesirable DHT, is found in the oil glands of hair follicles. When the body is unable to control the conversion of testosterone to DHT for an extended period of time, the hair follicle shrinks, becomes damaged, and has a drastically shorted lifespan.ii By helping the body inhibit the excessive conversion of testosterone to DHT, hair loss may be halted. By further inhibiting inflammation and giving the hair follicle antioxidant support, it may be possible to actually regrow hair that has been lost. The first step is balancing hormones to slow the damage that DHT causes.
Nutrients for Men's Health and Hair Loss
One of the most valuable nutrients for men's health is zinc. This essential mineral plays an important role in immunity, skin health, digestion, taste perception, cell communication and influences hormone release.iii Specifically, zinc inhibits the enzyme that allows for the conversion of testosterone to DHT. When zinc intake is poor, the body does not get to regulate the rate at which well-behaved testosterone is lost to the conversion of DHT. With healthy intake of zinc, the body can control and balance testosterone and DHT, only converting what is needed, like a small amount for repairing the prostate. Zinc is also essential to prostate health as the abundant nutrient in prostatic fluid, measuring at concentrations 500-1000 times that of blood.iv Low levels of zinc in prostatic fluid have been linked to prostate dysfunction, often stemming from hormone imbalances.v By restoring zinc levels in the blood and in the prostate, DHT levels do not get high enough to cause damage to the hair follicle. It is important to take in good levels of copper when supplementing zinc in doses above about 50 mg. Zinc and copper share a receptor site and work together. Further, copper is essential for collagen production, an essential structural protein. A copper deficiency can lead to poor collagen formation, effecting joints, skin, nails and thickness of hair.vi It is important to balance high doses of zinc with copper at a 10:1 radio, for example, taking more than 50 mg of zinc requires 5 mg of copper to ensure deficiency does not occur.
It almost seems too good to be true, for a simple nutrient to restore lost hair, but research shows that a form of Vitamin E, called tocotrienols, does precisely that. Vitamin E is a family of related nutrients, consisting of four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. While a single form, d-alpha tocopherol, tends to be the predominant form in Vitamin E supplements and multivitamins, getting all eight forms of Vitamin E supports health in a more comprehensive way. Tocotrienols are often the form that gets left out, even in Vitamin E complexes, but these forms provide unique benefits that tocopherols do not. Tocotrienols are sourced from red palm oil and support optimal brain function, healthy immunity, normal inflammatory responses, normal cholesterol and triglyceride levels and more.vii When it comes to combating hair loss, tocotrienols seem to be the nutrient that offers the most benefit. When researchers were studying tocotrienols for other health benefits, many participants reported that they were experiencing hair regrowth, some with dramatic regrowth. This lead to research on tocotrienols specifically for hair support. In a 2010 study, researchers sought to determine to what degree tocotrienols can support hair regrowth. Twenty one volunteers received 100 mg of mixed tocotrienols while seventeen participants in the control group received a placebo. A specific part of the scalp was monitored before supplementation, at 4 months and at 8 months. In the tocotrienol group, the number of hairs in the scalp examination area increased by an impressive 34.5% after just 8 weeks. The placebo group experienced a 0.1% decrease in hair growth.viii The researchers believe this profound result was due to the powerful antioxidant effects of tocotrienols. Antioxidants are the body's defenders against free radicals, which are unstable molecules that break down our cells and tissues for stability. Free radical damage interrupts healthy cell communication, aggravates inflammatory responses and damages the body's structure and biochemistry. When the body is protected by free radicals, they act as martyrs, allowing themselves to be broken down instead of the body's own cells. Lots of antioxidants offer amazing full body health benefits for the body at the cellular level. Antioxidants like tocotrienols protect the hair follicle from oxidative damage and lipid peroxidation (damage to the fats and oil glands) in the scalp. Tocotrienols protect the hair follicle and ensure the oil gland does not clog and stays healthy.
The research on tocotrienols to actually grow hair that was lost long ago is a reflection on how supportive and powerful antioxidants can be for health. While baldness tends be a cosmetic health issue, it does reflect an underlying issue with nutrient deficiencies and hormone imbalances. By addressing the core of the issue, research confirms that it is possible to regrow lost hair. Antioxidants are so essential to maintaining good health, from head to toe.
iv Zaichick VY, Sviridova TV, Zaichick SV; Zinc concentration in human prostatic fluid: normal, chronic prostatitis, adenoma and cancer. Int Urol Nephrol. 1996;28(5):687-94.
v Christudoss P, Selvakumar R, Fleming JJ, Gopalakrishnan G. Zinc status of patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate carcinoma. Indian Journal of Urology: 2011;27(1):14-18.
viii Beoy, Lim Ai, Wong Jia Woei, and Yuen Kah Hay. "Effects of tocotrienol supplementation on hair growth in human volunteers." Tropical life sciences research 21.2 (2010): 91.
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