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  • Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Oculoplastics/Orbit

    Review of: Evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of nutritional supplements for treating hair loss: A systematic review

    Drake L, Reyes-Hadsall S, Martinez J, et al. JAMA Dermatology, in press 2022

    Nutritional supplements have been discussed as having potential for helping people with hair loss.

    Study design

    Although nutritional supplements are commonly used for hair loss, their safety and effectiveness are not monitored by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as they are considered food rather than medications. A systematic literature review was conducted to provide a full overview of dietary and nutritional interventions for treatment of hair loss in people who did not have a known medical etiology for hair loss or nutritional deficiency. Thirty studies were included in the review: 17 randomized controlled trials (RCTs), 11 clinical studies, and 2 case series.


    Based on data from studies with Level 2 quality of evidence (including RCTs), many supplements showed potential benefit for treating hair loss. These included zinc, pumpkin seed oil capsules, omegas 3 and 6 combined with antioxidants, and capsaicin and isoflavone. In general, the supplements studied had reasonable safety profiles, with no serious adverse events noted.


    The quality of the studies varied and some were funded by their manufacturers; therefore, findings should be interpreted with this information in mind.

    Clinical significance

    As finasteride and minoxidil are FDA-approved treatments for many types of hair loss, these should be prioritized in terms of prescription. Nutritional supplements can be considered as adjuncts until additional RCTs are performed.

    Financial Disclosures: Dr. Anne Barmettler discloses no financial relationships.