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Best supplements for hair growth: Cystine, capsaicin and marine proteins may help

This Morning: Dr Ranj discusses treatments for hair loss

Based on a comprehensive review conducted by researchers from the department of dermatology at the University of California, certain elements are more likely to help people achieve healthy looking hair and hair growth. The researchers noted: “Vitamins and trace minerals are vital to the hair follicle cycle.”

Amino acids

Cystine is said to “play a central role in hair health – creating disulfide bridges that provide strength and rigidity between keratin strands”.

Citing a hair loss study, the oral supplementation of cystine saw an increase in hair density and the anagen rate (the growth phase in the hair cycle).

Another clinical trial combined cystine with histidine, copper, and zinc in pill form.

Twenty-four patients with hair loss took the capsule four times daily, which resulted in an increase in total hair count after 50 weeks compared to placebo.

Further clinical trials also reported the inclusion of cystine in capsules resulted in an increased anagen rate after six months of daily supplementation.

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Lysine is another amino acid that has demonstrated beneficial effects for the hair cycle.

This type of amino acid – also found in meat and eggs – resulted in a 39 percent reduction in hair shedding after six months of supplementation.

It must be noted that lysine was supplemented with: iron, vitamin B12, vitamin C, biotin, and selenium.


Studies done in Petri dishes report the caffeine “counteracts the inhibitory effects of testosterone on hair growth”.

In addition, caffeine reportedly “promotes hair shaft elongation, anagen duration, and stimulates the hair matrix”.

Further studies note that caffeine “down regulates” a hair growth inhibitor and increases the expression of a hair growth promotor.

Female hair follicles reportedly have a higher sensitivity to caffeine.

In terms of human clinical trials, research has mainly focused on the use of topical caffeine, such as caffeine shampoo.

There is evidence that caffeine shampoo is an effective way to prohibit hair loss.


Oral supplementation of capsaicin for five months saw an increase in the hair growth promoter, insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1.

In 64.5 percent of patients treated with capsaicin, compared to only 11.8 percent of a control group, hair growth occurred.

In male and female pattern baldness specifically, 88 percent of patients “observed hair growth following treatment”.

Marine proteins

A review of eight clinical trials and seven cohort studies demonstrated that marine proteins “promote growth of terminal and vellus hairs, increase hair shaft diameter, and decrease hair loss”.

Trials with oral marine protein supplementation “reported a significant improvement in hair counts and hair volume”.

100 women with self-perceived hair loss took marine protein capsules three times daily for six months.

At the end of the trial, the women saw an increase in hair- diameter and saw a reduction in hair shedding.

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