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Can Nutrition Affect Hair Growth?

Can Nutrition Affect Hair Growth?: Main Image
Tocotrienols--a natural compound related to vitamin E--may increase hair growth by as much as 34%
Hair loss can cause low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in both men and women. Now a study in Tropical Life Sciences Research holds promise for hair-loss sufferers and reports that tocotrienols--a natural compound related to vitamin E--may increase hair growth by as much as 34%.

Counting the hairs on your head

Vitamin E is made up of four tocotrienols and tocopherols, respectively called alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. In this study, 38 people (mostly men) with hair loss, were randomly assigned to receive 100 mg of mixed tocotrienols plus 46 IU of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) or placebo daily for eight months. The number of scalp hairs in a specific area of each participant's head was monitored at four and eight months.

The tocotrienol group experienced an average of 34% more scalp hairs compared with the placebo group who experienced a slight decrease. There was no significant increase in the weight of hair clippings in either group during or after the intervention.

The study authors comment, "A possible explanation for the effects could be due to the potent antioxidant activity of tocotrienols that help to reduce lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress in the scalp, which are known to be associated with alopecia (hair loss)." This is a small study, and further research is needed to investigate and confirm the role of tocotrienols in preventing hair loss.

Tips for dealing with hair loss

  • See a doctor. If you are experiencing hair loss that concerns you, see a doctor. A doctor can help determine if your hair loss is a natural result of aging or is caused by other factors such as nutritional deficiencies, medication side effects, or thyroid, skin, or autoimmune disease. A doctor can also help you choose from a number of conventional and natural options that may help reduce hair loss and improve growth.
  • Don't let it get you down. In addition to hair's social importance, it also serves physical functions, such as protecting your scalp from the sun. Hair loss can affect a person emotionally, and anyone who experiences unwanted hair loss should reach out to a health professional for help.

(Tropical Life Sciences Research 2010;21:91-9)

Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, websites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.

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