Many men at a young age experience hair loss. Hair loss can occur for a variety of reasons: medical illness, stress, medications (side effect), or heredity-- which is commonly referred to as androgenetic alopecia. This is the most common type of hair loss, and it can begin at any time in a man's life, even during his teen years. It usually is caused by the interaction of three factors: an inherited tendency toward baldness, male hormones and increasing age.
Can Diet and Supplements Help?
It is important for men to consume a healthy diet to maintain healthy hair and to minimize hair loss. Other factors need to be considered such as medications that may cause hair loss, as well as medications that may help slow or prevent hair loss. In addition to eating a healthy well-balanced diet, men can also consider taking the herb, saw palmetto. Saw palmetto is an herbal supplement that is used to maintain urinary tract health and prostate health in men. Furthermore, it may also help prevent hair loss in men. One of the contributing factors to hair loss in men is the conversion of testosterone to dihydroxytestosterone (DHT), by the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase. Blocking this conversion of testosterone to its active form (DHT) can help slow or cease hair loss in men. Inhibition of 5 alpha-reductase and prevention of conversion of testosterone to DHT may contribute to activity of saw palmetto in androgenetic alopecia.
One study sought to examine saw palmetto's effects in treating androgenic alopecia. The study followed 19 healthy men, aged 23-64, with mild-to-moderate androgenic alopecia. The men were given either 200 mg of saw palmetto and 50 mg of beta-sitosterol twice a day or a matching placebo for an average of 4.6 months. Patients were asked to evaluate any changes with respect to their current satisfaction with their hair. Assessments were performed at baseline and at the study's completion. Sixty percent of the study subjects given the active study formulation were rated as improved at the final visit.
To promote healthy hair, men should keep their diet in check and supplement with a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement to fill in any nutrition gaps. To help prevent or slow hair loss, the herb saw palmetto may be helpful for men and teens with accelerated hair loss. As always, it is important to first check with your physician or preferred health care provider before starting a supplement regimen or adding supplements to your current regimen-especially if you are at risk for any chronic disease and/or are currently taking prescription medication(s).