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    What are the dietary recommendations for hair growth

    What are the dietary recommendations for hair growth?

    Many dietary supplements have entered the market to support increased hair growth.  Some of these products are aimed at the dermatologist-dispensed market.  Luxuriant hair is basically a sign of overall health and proper hair care.  A good diet rich in protein is necessary for hair growth, since hair is pure protein.  People who eat total vegetarian or vegan diets may have trouble getting an adequate mix of amino acids for protein synthesis.  Dermatologists should take a dietary history, especially from young women, who note hair loss.  Further, dermatologists should take a menstrual history as heavy monthly blood loss may cause fluctuating anemia in patients on a normal or special diet.  If a fluctuating anemia is suspected, the hematology panel should be drawn on the anticipated last day of the menstrual cycle.  In these patients, the anemia resolves with diet by the beginning of the next menstrual cycle, but the fluctuating hematocrit may not lead to optimal hair growth.


    The dermatologist should consider all causes of hair loss prior to resulting to the use of proprietary hair loss supplements.  Many of the hair vitamins on the market contain a subset of the ingredients present in general health vitamins and minerals.  They usually contain vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, biotin, and zinc.  A proprietary ingredient may also be included for brand differentiation.  This could be an algae extract or a mushroom extract or botanical extract, such as saw palmetto.  Since these products are considered foods, they do not undergo the same rigid testing methodologies.  The standard macro photographs in a shaved hair area with a central tattoo used to study hair growth for pharmaceuticals is rarely done in the supplement arena.  This type of study might make it harder for the supplement to walk the fine line between a food and a drug.

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    Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D.
    Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D., is a consulting professor of dermatology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C. She is investigator, ...


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