How to combat male pattern baldness
By Zachary Gallagher
Also known as androgenic alopecia, male pattern baldness is common form of hair loss in both men and women. However, this issue is more prevalent in men. Half of the male population will suffer from some from of hair loss in their lives. This isn’t a topic that just affects elderly men. Androgenic alopecia can start as early as teenage years, with 50% of men over the age of 50 experiencing some form of male pattern baldness (Spatz, 2004).
Age related fluctuations in the androgen sex hormones (specifically dihydrotestosterone) are the most common cause of male pattern baldness. Additionally, genetic predisposition (AR gene) is likely to be the reason this condition clusters in families (Zhuo et al., 2012), thus having a close family member with patterned hair loss appears to be a risk factor in itself.
Environmental and lifestyle factors are also known to cause gene changes (polymorphisms) that can affect hair growth patterns and worsen the severity of symptoms of hair loss.
These environmental and lifestyle factors include:
- Stress levels
- Dietary choice
- Immune function (viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic infections)
- Fitness levels
- Heavy metal exposure
Men who suffer from androgenic alopecia are shown to have an increased incidence of enlarged prostate, metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. (Agamia, Abou Youssif, El-Hadidy, & El-Abd, 2016) Men with this condition should seek assistance from a medical professional to assess their risk.
Diet and lifestyle
- Support optimum health by eating a variety of foods
- Hair is made of amino acids so including enough protein in your diet is paramount. Men should aim for .85g per kilo of body weight per day. Complete protein sources include red and white meat, seafood, dairy products, tofu and various grains and legumes.
- Adequate iron is required for blood supply to the hair follicle.
- Omega 3 fats support the production of sebum in the scalp. Sources include oily fish, nuts, seeds and avocadoes.
- B complex vitamins especially biotin support healthy circulation to the scalp and too little can lead to hair loss. Sources include whole grains, eggs and brewers yeast.
- Zinc and selenium are powerful antioxidants that support healthy aging in men; deficiencies are common in Australia and can lead to hair loss. Selenium can be found in Brazil nuts and zinc in red meat, seafood and pumpkin seeds.
- Help manage stress levels and reduce anxiety associated with hair loss by practicing yoga, meditation or taking a walk outside in nature.
- Traditionally Rosemary oil (Rosmarinus offinalis) has been used to promote hair strength and quality. A trial of rosemary oil vs. minoxidil 2% (conventional drug treatment) found similar growth scores after 6 months with rosemary patients reporting less frequent scalp itching.
- Topical application of Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) has shown to be support hair count and terminal hair growth in males with androgenic alopecia (Wessagowit et al., 2016) over a 24 week period.
- Agamia, N. F., Abou Youssif, T., El-Hadidy, A., & El-Abd, A. (2016). Benign prostatic hyperplasia, metabolic syndrome and androgenic alopecia: Is there a possible relationship? Arab Journal of Urology, 14(2), 157–62. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.aju.2016.01.003
- Spatz, M. A. (2004). Genetics Home Reference. Journal of the Medical Library Association (Vol. 92).
- Wessagowit, V., Tangjaturonrusamee, C., Kootiratrakarn, T., Bunnag, T., Pimonrat, T., Muangdang, N., & Pichai, P. (2016). Treatment of male androgenetic alopecia with topical products containing Serenoa repens extract. The Australasian Journal of Dermatology, 57(3), e76-82. http://doi.org/10.1111/ajd.12352
- Zhuo, F. L., Xu, W., Wang, L., Wu, Y., Xu, Z. L., & Zhao, J. Y. (2012). Androgen receptor gene polymorphisms and risk for androgenetic alopecia: a meta-analysis. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, 37(2), 104–11. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2230.2011.04186.x