Dietary supplements to help with hair loss

Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN

Q: Are there dietary supplements to help with hair loss? I have been gluten-free for decades, but in the last 3 years or so am experiencing significant scalp hair loss.

Answer


Hair loss can be due to multiple causes, below are the most common ones:

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Decreased protein intake/protein malnutrition
  • Essential fatty acid deficiency of linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3)
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
    • Vitamin D
    • B vitamins, especially niacin and biotin
    • Iron/ferritin
    • Zinc
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Aging
    • About 50% of both men and women experience hair loss by age 50. 1
  • Alopecia areata (AA) (autoimmune disease that causes patchy hair loss)

I would recommend that you see your doctor to evaluate your hair loss and have appropriate testing done before starting a supplement. If you have celiac disease I would also recommend having your celiac antibodies monitored, as damage to the small intestine can cause malabsorption and lead to nutrient deficiencies which may cause hair loss.

It is important to note that supplements are only beneficial if there is a deficiency present. Supplementing while there is no deficiency can worsen hair loss or cause toxicity. Too much vitamins A, E, and selenium have been associated with hair loss. 1

Reference:

  1. Guo EL, Katta R. Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatol Pract Concept. 2017;7(1):1–10. Published 2017 Jan 31. doi:10.5826/dpc.0701a01 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/ , Accessed June 25, 2019.

Note: This information is provided by NCA and Melinda Dennis, NCA's Senior Consulting Dietitian. This information is meant for educational purposes and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. This information can be printed and used in consultation with your physician or dietitian. No liability is assumed by NCA, Ms. Dennis or her nutrition consulting service Delete the Wheat, LLC. by providing this information.

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