Those who suffer from hair loss do not have abnormally high levels of DHT. Their hair follicles (and the dermal papilla) are simply more sensitive to the effects of DHT.
This is why blocking DHT entirely is not recommended.
Vitamins work by promoting overall scalp and follicle health. This can then lead to lower DHT sensitivity. We will discuss how below.
If you prefer watching rather than reading, check out our video below:
How DHT Blockers Work
To understand the benefit of the vitamins listed below, you need to understand how DHT blockers typically work.
DHT, or Dihydrotestosterone, is a hormone present in men and women (1). Our body produces it from testosterone, via the enzyme 5α-reductase.
The main role of DHT is in the development of secondary sexual characteristics in men. These include facial hair, pubic hair, increased muscle mass, and a deeper voice.
As DHT flows throughout the body, it can attach to hormone receptors in various organs and structures, like the skin, hair follicles, and brain.
In men predisposed to pattern baldness, their hair follicles are particularly sensitive to DHT and its effects (2). Scientists do not understand the exact mechanism by which DHT leads to baldness. However, in one way or another, once it attaches to the receptors on the surface of the hair follicle cells, DHT triggers a slow and gradual process of hair follicle miniaturization.
The majority of DHT blockers work to inhibit the enzyme 5α-reductase. This then limits the production of DHT. So they are not so much blocking the action of DHT, as they are limiting its production.
Just as too much DHT can have negative effects, so can too little DHT (3). The adverse reactions from DHT blockers can include symptoms such as loss of libido, inability to get or maintain an erection, and low ejaculatory volume (4).
Can Vitamins and Minerals Block DHT?
The most famous DHT blocker is the hair loss drug Propecia (finasteride). This drug inhibits 5α-reductase, lowering DHT levels by up to 70%.
Vitamins and minerals don’t work like that.
The vast majority of vitamins and minerals for hair growth are more like Rogaine (minoxidil) than Propecia. That is, they create a healthier environment for hair growth in spite of DHT. This has a few benefits over DHT blockers.
For one, vitamins and minerals are a natural and essential part of your health. The vitamins listed here are necessary for many bodily functions other than hair growth. Ensuring their proper levels will benefit your body outside your scalp (5).
The other very important benefit is the reduced risk of adverse side effects. Unlike DHT blockers, vitamins and minerals will not put your sexual health at risk when you use them as directed.
The Best Vitamins for Hair Growth
Here is a closer look at the best vitamins for hair growth.
Niacin – Vitamin B3
Niacin (vitamin B3) is an essential human nutrient. Various foods contain it in high quantities. Its main claim when it comes to fighting hair loss is its ability to increase blood circulation in the scalp (6).
There are many factors to hair loss, but a major one is your hair’s access to sufficient blood flow. When blood flow is restricted, the follicles will not receive all the oxygen and nutrients they require to carry out their regular hair growth cycle. This can also aggravate the effects of DHT: reduced blood flow makes it more difficult for chemicals (including DHT) to be removed from the follicle.
In support of this, research has found that men with early Male-Pattern Baldness (MPB) have subcutaneous blood flow that is 2.6 times less than their healthy counterparts (7). Also, balding parts of their scalp have less blood flow compared to healthy parts (the back and sides of the head). Healthy men without hair loss show no such differences.
All of this to say, blood flow is critical to hair health and niacin can help.
A common side effect of niacin supplementation is flushing. This occurs because niacin dilates the blood vessels, and this increases blood flow to the face. Niacin can even reduce the viscosity of blood, so it flows more easily through your body (8).
Other benefits of niacin supplementation include anti-inflammatory effects (great for reversing hair follicle miniaturization) and increased keratin synthesis (9, 10).
How can you get more niacin into your diet? Include these foods:
- Sunflower Seeds
- Green Peas
- Fish (including fish oils)
You can also take a daily niacin supplement, but it is best to speak with your doctor first (11).
Biotin – Vitamin B7
Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, plays a major role in the metabolism of food. It is a very popular supplement for hair, skin, and nails. Biotin functions as a protein synthesizer (12). As the protein keratin is the predominant building block within these three structures, it makes sense that biotin is important.
Biotin is found in abundance in the foods we eat. It can even be produced by healthy gut flora. Even with biotin deficiency being rare, researchers have been able to study its effects (13).
To name just a few of the symptoms of biotin deficiency, they are:
- Nail weakness;
- Dermatitis; and
- Hair loss
How can you be sure you’re getting an appropriate amount of biotin in your diet? Include foods such as:
You can also find biotin in a variety of multivitamins, especially those aimed at hair, nail, and skin health.
Zinc and Selenium
Zinc and selenium are two trace elements that are often discussed together and for good reason. Manufacturers often include both in many cosmetic formulations, such as face wash. They both play a critical role in the human body.
As antioxidants, zinc and selenium are vital in the fight against free radicals. They protect the skin and other organs from aging and keep many cellular processes functioning properly as a result. Interestingly, both zinc and selenium also play a role in the keratinization process (14, 15).
As outlined above, keratin is a protein. In fact, it is the main protein that makes up the hair.
However, proteins aren’t just naturally present within the body. Instead, they must be synthesized. This is done through various processes, and protein synthesizers such as zinc and selenium help make this happen.
It is not necessary to take these vitamins daily. An overabundance of zinc can actually lead to thinning and hair loss. You should speak with your doctor about your nutrient levels, and they can order the appropriate blood tests. They can also prescribe a course of supplementation if the results show a zinc or selenium deficiency.
A better course of action is to ingest foods rich in these vitamins. These include:
- Red meats
- Pumpkin seeds
- Wheat germ
- Egg yolks
- Soy products
You can easily add many of these ingredients to a delicious smoothie, or make a bone broth that will satisfy your hunger and nutritional needs.
As a major regulator of biochemical processes within the body, magnesium is a crucial nutrient (16). It also plays an important role in hair health and growth.
Magnesium is sometimes linked to calcium, and for good reason: magnesium is often used to ‘regulate’ calcium’s presence.
This is because too much free calcium within the body can lead to calcium deposits. In people with hair loss, this can even lead to calcification of the scalp. If not treated, this can result in irreversible baldness.
Calcium is found in many foods, and you may even be getting an oversupply from your own water supply.
You can take a magnesium supplement if you are deficient, though not daily. You should speak with your doctor if you suspect a deficiency. Together you can find the best treatment plan for you.
Antioxidants play a vital role within the body by fighting free radicals. These are molecules that essentially break down the body over time, as they steal electrons from surrounding molecules. Perhaps one of the best-known antioxidants is Vitamin E.
Vitamin E is actually a generic name for a group of compounds with powerful antioxidant properties. This group can be further broken down into two: tocopherols, and tocotrienols.
Tocotrienols in particular have proven beneficial for hair growth. Just eight months of supplementation led to a 34.5% hair count increase in the studied area (17).
Vitamin E, especially tocotrienols, is found in a few common foods (18). These include:
- Wheat germ
- Palm oil
- Rice bran
- Olive oil
- Sunflower seed oil
You can also take vitamin E as a supplement every day, but it is better to look for foods that have high quantities of it. Our body absorbs these more readily.
Folic Acid – Vitamin B9
Folic acid, also known as Vitamin B9, is commonly considered a prenatal vitamin. However, it is an important nutrient even for men and non-pregnant women.
Many people confuse folic acid and folate. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate. In other words, it is created in a lab. On the other hand, folate occurs naturally in foods and our body absorbs it much better. That is not to say that you cannot use folic acid though, as it is methylated in the liver and then used throughout the body (19).
What role do folate and folic acid play?
It is essential for the synthesis and repair of DNA (the cell’s genetic material) while also ensuring it functions as it should. This is important for a wide variety of biochemical processes, including hair growth.
It is best to consume foods high in Vitamin B9, as the majority of this is folate (unless it was intentionally added, in which case it is folic acid). Foods that have naturally high quantities of vitamin B9 include:
- Brussels Sprouts
- Collard Greens
- Turnip Greens
- Mustard Greens
- Romaine Lettuce
- Pinto Beans
- Garbanzo Beans
- Black Beans
- Kidney Beans
- Green Peas
- Green Beans
NOTE! It is possible to have excessive levels of folate within the body, and this can increase the risk of cognitive decline (20). If you suspect you suffer from Vitamin B9 deficiency, or to learn more about the proper supplement dosage, consult with your doctor.
Although not strictly a vitamin or a mineral, this herb is a natural remedy in the ayurvedic tradition. It has anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties (21). While these properties alone can be beneficial in the treatment of hair loss, including AGA, they may also block DHT directly.
Bhringaraaja, known by its Latin names Eclipta alba and Eclipta prostrata, is one ingredient in a commonly used Chinese medication to treat AGA. It is called BeauTop, and it has been shown to block DHT and stimulate hair follicle activity (22).
While further research is still needed, especially on Bhringaraaja alone, its other properties can make it a beneficial addition to your hair care routine.
Speak With Your Doctor Before Supplementing
As always, you should speak with your doctor before you begin supplementing with any of the above.
It is important that you understand daily recommended amounts of each vitamin, and that you know your current vitamin levels.
While rare, there may also be adverse effects to supplementing with the above vitamins. This can be the case especially if you are taking medications or suffering from specific medical conditions.
Keep in mind that the FDA does not monitor vitamins for quality, quantity, or purity. Do your homework on brands. Choose supplements that are voluntarily meeting the industry standards.
If you are wary of DHT blocker drugs like finasteride and dutasteride, you are not alone. The use of such hair loss medications can have negative side effects in some men, and they are not recommended for use by women.
So what is the alternative?
There are other medications, like minoxidil. This works by enabling hair growth, even in the presence of DHT.
There are also natural supplements that work in a similar way. These include vitamins that our body naturally requires to function. The benefits of these vitamins will therefore extend beyond healthy hair.
Just a question, will these help with women with post-partum hairloss? I have a lot of fellow mothers who are concerned with hair loss after pregnancy. I guess I may be one of the lucky few who do not go through it, but I would love to recommend the above products to those in need.
This is a great list of supplements good for hair loss. I currently take quite a few of them for other reasons. So now I know I get extra benefits with them 🙂 I would really love to have my thick hair back, that would be great. Do you know how long I would have to have been taking the supplements to notice a change in hair? Is this something that has to build up in my system, and then start working?
Great question. Most of these hair loss products will take time before you see results, due to the cyclical nature of hair shedding and growth. I recommend that you give any product a good six weeks, and this includes supplements.
Great question, Mimie! Yes, hormonal imbalance is a leading cause of hair loss in women, and this includes post-partum hairloss as well as menopause. Any of these supplements, especially Nutrafol, can help stem the tide and reverse some of the damage.
I take multi-vitamins already but it doesn’t seem to help with my hair loss, I thought that they had everything in them would I get more benefit from just taking the nutrafol or the viviscal? Would they be ok to take together or should I try them both on their own?
As someone with a family member who has struggled with hair loss for many years, I particularly found the information and advice about some of the natural remedies available really useful.
I will definitely pass the information on for her to check out.
thanks for reading, and for passing on the info, Mark!
Hi Penelope! I learned so much! One question I have is, I have been losing a bit of hair lately and I think it has to do with peri-menopause. Is there a recommendation you might have for us in this age group? My good friend has this problem as well, so I am going to send her this link. Great info!
Yes, women usually lose hair during periods of hormonal spikes (childbirth, menopause, peri-menopause, various endocrine disorders including thyroid disorder). All of these are good for any age group – none are designed for any one group in fact. THanks for passing along the info!
Great info, Penelope! I had no idea supplements and herbals would help this condition. I’m thinning a bit at the temple, and hoping to try something a bit more natural and less hype-y. Thanks for this post and blog!
Thanks for the feedback, Terri! Come back and let us know how this stuff, or anything else, works out for you!
I love the idea of taking vitamins, but I also take prescription medication. Do you think it’s a good idea to take vitamins as well?
Always check with your doctor before trying anything, especially if you think there may be a conflict. great question!
I have heard of viviscal and had done some research on it when I was pregnant. I see another poster mentioned postpartum hair loss and that is exactly why I was looking into this product. Since I do not wash my hair everyday, it is nice to know that they provide supplements that can be taken daily. Thanks for the information!
Thanks for the feedback! Supplements are a must in any hair regrowth endeavor. Topical stuff is important but hair health has both external and internal causes!
I had hairloss periods approximately 4-6 months after giving birth. I have two kids, so this happened both times. I wish I had known about these products at that time. It was terrible for a while. Thanks for sharing the info!
Thanks for sharing your story, Marika!
I have changed shampoo after straightening my hair and now I am dealing with hair breakage.
I have been looking into vitamins and supplements at the drugstore and bought multivitamins for the moment. Reading your article I think a hair supplement would help me, I was thinking maybe ultrax hair rush? To be honest I am a little afraid of buying supplements online. What has been your experience so far?
Thank you ever so much for your top 5 vitamin recommendations for hair loss. I am more than familiar with Viviscal, as I used it for over a year. I stopped, I must admit, as I found it made my hair healthier – no shadow of a doubt – but did not increase it in quantity. I have always had thin hair, hair that lacks volume, and for this reason I have gone to a short cut since 2013, in an effort to gain volume. But I lost hair on the very top of my head a few years ago and, no matter what I tried, that hair does not seem to want to come back. Do you recommend I should use one of the other products? or should I start on Viviscal and keep using it for longer?
Did you notice an increase in hair shed/fall with any of these vitamins when you first started? I tried Nutrafol for 3 weeks and my shed increased dramatically. I’m wondering if it was coinceodence, but my shed had pretty much slowed to normal for almost 6 months.
Actually, it’s common to see an increase in shedding initially. When your hair loss treatment stimulates the hair follicles, providing further nourishment and encouraging regrowth, and once these new hairs start to grow, they push out the old, thinning hairs which is why you may start to lose more hair than normal.
The shedding stage doesn’t happen to everyone, but when it does, it can last between two and four weeks, as the new hairs make their way through as a normal part of the hair growth cycle.
Hope this helps, thanks for the great comment!
Hair loss and thinning is such an emotional thing for both men and women. The information about what vitamins and herbs actually work is so helpful. I’m interested in the Ultrax products, they look very effective. I also heard that the thyroid can be an issue for hair loss too, any thoughts?
I just have a question, I have taken hair supplements before (not for hair loss), but I find that some of them has a horrible smell. Do you know if this is the case with any of the ones on your list?
I don’t suffer from hair loss but based on the reviews on Amazon, there is a noticeable difference for most find the vitamins makes their hair stronger, longer, and fuller. I think this is a good idea for me, because I have excessive breakage from too much chemical such as hair dyes.
I think you might be talking about the stinky mighty B vitamin! All of the supplements on this list are gelcaps, so little to no smell luckily! Great question. And yes, hair loss vitamins are a specialty niche and tend to be higher quality, because the people who make them know we consumers have many choices!
I have read your review of number 4 Hairfluence. My hair is starting to thin around my hairline in the front because I started to wear a wig when I go in public so I was thinking about taking a supplement. I am glad I have received so much valuable information from your site.
You should absolutely take a supplement, because wigs can endanger your scalp health and circulation. People have great luck with Hairfluence, give it a shot!
Do you know anything about New Chapter’s Perfect Hair Skin and Nails? I asked my holistic pharmacist if he had any recommendations and he said people seem to really like that. The ingredients don’t tell me much:
Biotin (from culture media) 300 mcg 100%
Organic Haematococcus pluvialis algae
Astaxanthin 4 mg 120 mg *
Organic Reishi (Ganoderma lucidium, Ling zhi)
(mycelium and fruiting bodies) 100 mg *
Stress and Energy Support Blend (from culture media)
Organic Schizandra (berry), Organic Maca (root), Organic Chamomile (flower) 56.2 mg *
Digestive Support Blend (from culture media)
Organic Aloe (leaf), Organic Peppermint (leaf), Organic Coriander (seed), Organic Cardamom (fruit), Organic Artichoke (leaf) 37.5 mg
Its important to tell people to use the ALPHA- Tacopherol and avoid the GAMMA (Vitamin E)
Hey will. Great website. I just started taking zinc supplement about a month ago. It’s through Mega Food and is 22.5mg. Is this considered high dose and can this dose cause increase in DHT or cause hair loss. Thanks!
This post should help to answer your questions: https://www.hairguard.com/benefits-of-zinc/
Are your products available in the UK and Europe please?
Hi Angela, yes we ship to the UK and Europe.
i am suffering from receding hairline and hair is thinning out from past few months, what should i do??
what diet should i follow and can i regrowth my hair through nail rubbing exercise ??
please guide me….
I would recommend you check out this post for tips on diet for hair growth: https://www.hairguard.com/best-diet-for-hair-loss/
You may also find this guide on regrowth to be helpful: https://www.hairguard.com/scalp-secrets/
Hi Matthew – I would recommend trying these supplements one at a time rather than in combination. Great question, though! Start with Nutrafol for men – that seems to do the trick. It was designed and meticulously researched by a male model who didn’t like the sexual side effects of propecia.
I buy supplements online all the time, but I go through Amazon.com which is a trustworthy vendor available most places in the world. Most drugstore vitamins are crap – they’ve been on the shelf way too long, and they’re mostly rancid oils, sawdust, and fillers. It’s much better to get a medical grade, quality supplement from the internet or even a supplement store.
Thanks for sharing your experience with Viviscal, Giulia! I’m happy to hear it made your hair healthier and not so happy to hear you didn’t experience new growth. I think you should try Nutrafol, and a low level laser device. Try them in combination religiously, for at least four months, and see if you notice a difference. It depends on whether your follicles are dead or merely dormant. is there any hair at all – vellus or baby hair? At any rate, given how much time has passed, you will need to act aggressively now with simultaneous treatments.
Thanks for the comment, Linda! Yes, the thyroid is exactly why my hair has been such an issue. The most commonly prescribed thyroid medication, Levothyroxine, can cause hair loss. That, and a body struggling to maintain itself metabolically tends to let ancillary things like skin and hair health fall by the wayside. The Ultrax products are among my favorites, I’ve used and reviewed several of them – shampoo, serum, and hair mask. thanks for reading!
Good day Will! Do you have any idea as to how much zinc (mg) leads to inhibiting dht? Thanks
I think you’ll find our post on Zinc and its links to hair loss helpful.
Hi Joanne! I don’t know anything about this supplement but from what you’ve listed, it has some promising ingredients, including mushroom fibers (mycelium). I had to google Astaxanthin – it’s an antioxidant pigment found in marine life. so if you have a shellfish allergy this supplement would be a definite no-go. I’ve never seen coriander or cardamom in a hair loss product. It has a 3.5/5 on Amazon.com, from 56 reviews, which isn’t bad…most importantly for you, there’s no Saw Palmetto, so it would hopefully not have the same hormonal effects. If you decide to try it, come back and let me know if it helps!
I take Opti-Men multivitamins with breakfast and follihair tablets with lunch. Is it ok taking two kinds of multivitamins in a single day?
I have tried everything..from laser comb to scalp laser treatments to biotin you name it. My hair was so thick as a child I had to get it thinned out. Since my 30’s the top of my hair thinned out terribly and I’ve been wearing a unit ever since. I lost my natural wave in my 50’s and my hair is thin and straight on sides and back. Very thin on top. It’s funny how many compliments I get with my unit…only a few know it’s not my real hair. Can DHT be blocked naturally? I think once it’s gone, sadly it’s gone.
There are a few natural DHT blockers, though they have their own side effects. You can learn more about them here: https://www.hairguard.com/best-natural-dht-blockers/
Unfortunately, you’re right that once the hair follicle has died there is no way to regrow the hair. This can take a few years, though the number of years will vary from person to person.
200% perfect. Foods high in zinc, copper, selenium, biotin, vitamin C will reduce DHT causing Dry skin, aggravates psoriasis, joint pain, mood swings.
Remedy: calcium 250mg+ vitamin D3 800IU +Boron 1mg per day with avoiding zinc, copper, selenium, biotin, Vitamin C, Folate and Niacin.
It’s very very dangerous to inhibit DHT..as DHT is expressed all over the body ..scalp, skin, bones and joints, muscles, male reproductive organs. Hair could be replaced by hair weaving patches… particularly ..Zinc, selenium, copper, biotin, vitamin E are potent DHT inhibitors even if applied on skin causing Dry skin, flare up of psoriasis, joint pain , muscle weakness and male sexual dysfunction.
Remedy: popup DHT by excercising.. HIIT and cardio, slimming, eating sugar and fat /oils without Vitamin E , reducing folate and vitamin C intake, avoiding foods having more than 0.2 mg zinc, copper, selenium and biotin more than 1ug, eating calcium rich foods and taking supplements.. calcium 500mg + Boron 1mg+Vitamin D3 800IU per day and drinking 100gms of sorghum grain extract daily with 100gms of Raisins.