Derm Topics

Patient Buzz: Do Hair Loss Supplements Work?

Well+Good recently published an article asking if hair loss supplements actually work.

For an expert opinion, I consulted Crystal Aguh, MD, Director of the Ethnic Skin Program and Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD.

What is the theory behind hair supplements?

Hair supplements are designed to create an ideal nutritional environment to sustain hair growth.

Is there any proof that hair supplements work?

It depends on who you ask. We do know that maintaining healthy iron and vitamin D levels are important to sustaining healthy hair. Biotin, another popular vitamin, unfortunately, has never been linked to a substantial improvement in hair characteristics, such as rate of hair growth or fullness. However, there are a small handful of supplements on the market that have been studied more rigorously and may help minimize hair shedding in the right patient.

How should dermatologists counsel their patients who ask about hair supplements?

Dermatologists should ask their hair loss patients if they are taking any supplements. Biotin, for example, currently has an FDA warning attached to it because it can falsely adjust lab values. This means that serious illnesses, such as thyroid disease or even a heart attack, could be missed because the labs were impacted by high biotin levels. This warning was put in place after a woman died. Her heart attack was missed due to her use of a biotin supplement, which led to an incorrect reading of her heart enzyme levels.

Did you enjoy this Patient Buzz article? Find more here.

Want to learn more about hair loss treatments on the horizon? Check out Dr. Amy McMichael’s latest video pearls here.

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