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What you eat not only affects your body on the inside, but also the outside too, which includes hair health. Some evidence suggests that certain supplements may help improve hair growth, including L-lysine, marine protein and vitamin B-6 and cysteine. However, if you want healthy, full hair, you'll need to start with a nutritious and balanced diet. Consult your doctor before adding any dietary supplements to your routine.
A 2002 article published in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology reports that supplementation with the amino acid lysine may help prevent excessive hair shedding. Lysine is an essential amino acid, which means you need to get it from the food you eat to meet your needs. However, most people, with the exception of athletes and vegans, do not have a problem getting enough from their diet, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Your doctor can help you determine if you might benefit from lysine supplementation for healthy hair and the appropriate dose. To make sure you're meeting your needs for healthy hair, include legumes, red meat, poultry, eggs, fish, nuts and soy foods in your diet.
Marine Protein Supplements
A 2015 study published in Dermatology and Research investigated the effects of a marine protein supplement with a proprietary blend of shark and mollusk powder on hair growth in a group of women with thinning hair. The study found that the supplement not only improved hair growth, but also prevented hair shedding. The supplement used in the study also contained horsetail, which is a source of silica, Malpighia glabra, a source of vitamin C, biotin and zinc, which may have had some impact on hair growth. It's impossible to tell how much benefit came from the protein.
Vitamin B-6 and Cysteine
Vitamin B-6 is essential for skin health and may help promote hair growth, while cysteine, also an amino acid, is a major component of your hair. A 2013 study published in the Archives of Dermatological Research investigated the effects of a vitamin B-6 and cysteine supplement on hair loss induced by chemotherapy in mice. The study found that this combination helped prevent the loss of hair in the mice. An earlier study from 2001 published in Wiadomosci Lekarskie also showed an improvement in hair growth in women supplemented with injections of vitamin B-6.
Warning About Supplements
While there is evidence that some supplements may help improve hair growth, the authors of the 2001 article published in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology report that supplements may not always be the best way to go, especially if there's not a nutritional deficiency. The authors warn that over supplementing may in fact increase hair loss. Nutrients found in food, such as protein, essential fats, vitamins and minerals, may be more beneficial to helping improve hair growth than a dietary supplement.
- Clinical and Experimental Dermatology: Nutritional Factors and Hair Loss
- Dermatology Research and Practice: A 3-Month, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study Evaluating the Ability of an Extra-Strength Marine Protein Supplement to Promote Hair Growth and Decrease Shedding in Women With Self-Perceived Thinning Hair
- Archives of Dermatological Research: Chemoprevention of Doxorubicin-induced Alopecia in Mice by Dietary Administration of L-Cystine and Vitamin B-6
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Lysine
- Wiadomosci Lekarskie: Evaluation of Vitamin B-6 and Calcium Pantothenate Effectiveness on Hair Growth From Clinical and Trichographic Aspects for Treatment of Diffuse Alopecia in Women
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