WELLthier Living and Aging
WELLthier Living and Aging
Slowing Male Pattern Baldness: Tips from a Men’s Health Expert
Hair loss is a sign of aging that few men welcome, but male pattern baldness may be slowed, according to Miles Spar, MD, an integrative medicine physician and chief medical officer of Vault Health, a national medical practice specializing in care for men.
Although male pattern baldness, also called androgenic alopecia, may occur at any age, it is typically caused by a combination of advancing age, male hormones, and genetics. Pattern hair loss primarily affects the top and front of the scalp.
Two pharmaceutical medications have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat hair loss, but these only work as long as they are being used and may come with unwanted side effects. Finasteride, known by the brand name Propecia, works by blocking conversion of testosterone to an androgenic hormone called dihydrotesterone (DHT) that has been implicated in some male pattern baldness. The drug has been shown to be effective for treating hair loss but may cause negative sexual side effects that could become permanent with prolonged use of the drug. The second approved drug for hair loss is minoxidil, also known as Rogaine, which is applied topically twice a day to stimulate hair growth. This drug has been shown to slow the rate of hair loss or even stimulate regrowth, but may cause scalp irritation and unwanted hair growth on face and hands. These drugs may be used in combination with each other.
There are more natural options available to men that can improve scalp and hair health. Research suggests a connection between hair loss and low levels of the essential trace mineral zinc. A 2013 study published in the Annals of Dermatology found that patients with four different types of hair loss all had lower levels of serum zinc than a control group. While zinc supplementation has not been shown to stop hair from thinning, the researchers hypothesized that disturbances in zinc metabolism may play a role in hair loss. Dr. Spar recommends a zinc supplement, which can also have a positive effect on erectile dysfunction, but advises limiting dosing to no more than 20mg a day without a doctor’s clearance.
Other supplements can enhance the appearance of the hair, helping it look thick, full, and shiny. Along with eating a balanced diet, Dr. Spar recommends taking a B-complex vitamin daily that includes both biotin and folic acid. The biotin strengthens the protein structure of the hair and folic acid may keep hair follicles functioning properly by boosting circulation.
Research has consistently shown that omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel, reduce inflammation and stimulate hair and follicle growth. Dr. Spar recommends supplementing with fish oil to keep the scalp health and hair strong.
Miles Spar, MD. (n.d.) Best methods to slow male pattern baldness. https://drspar.com/slow-male-pattern-baldness/