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Vitamin E against hair loss?

Naturally present in vegetable oils, vitamin E is beneficial for the health of the skin and hair. Some sources go further in its hair benefits and claim that this active ingredient can prevent hair loss. What does the scientific literature say? Can vitamin E limit hair loss? Learn more by continuing to read.

Summary
Published April 23, 2024, updated on April 24, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 6 min read

The effects of Vitamin E on hair loss?

The vitamin E is a family of eight fat-soluble molecules, consisting of four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. Not produced by the human body, it is naturally synthesized by algae, plants, and certain fungi. Therefore, it can be found in food derived from plant sources as well as in animal products that consume plants. The vitamin E is also included in the composition of several cosmetics, intended for both skin and hair. Regarding its hair benefits, there are reasons to believe that this active ingredient can limit hair loss.

Indeed, a study conducted in 2010 involving 38 individuals experiencing varying degrees of hair loss highlighted the hair densifying effects of Vitamin E. Over a period of 8 months, these volunteers took a capsule twice a day: a placebo for half of them and Vitamin E for the others (50 mg of tocotrienols and 15.43 mg of alpha-tocopherol). A significant increase in hair count was observed following the intake of Vitamin E, while no difference was noted among the volunteers who received the placebo. The results are presented in the table below.

Dietary SupplementAverage number of hairs (beginning of the experiment)Average number of hairs (after 4 months)Average number of hairs (after 8 months)
Vitamin E284.8328.0 (+15.2%)383.1 (+34.5%)
Placebo289.0298.2 (+3.2%)288.7 (-0.1%)

Note : Despite these encouraging results, it is important to remain cautious about the effects of vitamin E on hair loss. It would be beneficial for more studies involving a larger number of volunteers to confirm these effects.

How does Vitamin E protect against hair loss?

Various mechanisms of action of vitamin E can explain its effects on hair growth and loss :

  • Vitamin E protects hair follicles from oxidative stress.

    Several recent studies have highlighted a harmful effect of oxidative stress on hair growth. A team of researchers has specifically shown that free radicals, and more particularly lipid peroxides, accelerate the transition between the anagen phase, or growth phase, and the catagen phase, or rest phase of the hair cycle. Free radicals also induce apoptosis of keratinocytes, the cells of the hair follicle, which precipitates hair loss.

    Thanks to its antioxidant properties, vitamin E can protect hair follicles from damage caused by oxidative stress. Indeed, the aromatic cycle present in its chemical structure allows it to donate an electron to free radicals, thereby stabilizing them. In doing so, vitamin E can help prevent hair loss.

  • Vitamin E prevents inflammation of the hair follicles.

    If not controlled, oxidative stress can trigger inflammatory phenomena in hair follicles, which also contribute to hair loss. Indeed, keratinocytes can respond to oxidative stress caused by UV rays, pollutants, and irritants by producing nitric oxide and releasing, among other things, interleukin-1α (IL-1α). Furthermore, free radicals can activate certain nuclear factors, such as the AP-1 transcription factor, involved in the release of other cytokines. Studies in vitro have shown that these inflammatory molecules inhibit the growth of hair follicles.

    The vitamin E, due to its anti-inflammatory properties, can limit these processes. Several scientific studies have focused on its mechanisms of action and have shown that this active ingredient can suppress the NF-κB and JAK-STAT6 signaling pathways. These are major transcriptional factors in mediating the inflammatory response and in the expression of cytokines and chemokines.

  • Vitamin E supports the delivery of nutrients to the hair follicle.

    Efficient blood circulation in the scalp is necessary for hair growth. Indeed, the keratinocytes present in the hair follicles require nutrients and oxygen carried by the blood to synthesize keratin and assemble to form the hair shaft. Moreover, the removal of waste from the hair bulb, preventing potential obstructions of the follicles, could not occur without good blood circulation.

    The vitamin E also plays a role in blood circulation and helps to optimize it through its vasodilatory properties. Tocopherols, in particular, work by increasing the production of nitric oxide (NO) by the endothelial cells of the blood vessels. NO induces a relaxation of the smooth muscles of the vessels, which promotes blood flow. Vitamin E also inhibits the release of thromboxane A2 (TXA2) by platelets, vasoconstrictors that induce platelet aggregation.

Sources

  • PANGANAMALA R. V. & others. Modulation of platelet thromboxane A2 and arterial prostacyclin by dietary vitamin E. Prostaglandins (1981).

  • JIALAL I. & al. Vitamin E, Oxidative Stress, and Inflammation. Annual Review of Nutrition (2005).

  • TRUEB R. M. Oxidative Stress in Hair Aging. International Journal of Trichology (2009).

  • HAY Y. K. & others. Effects of Tocotrienol Supplementation on Hair Growth in Human Volunteers. Tropical Life Sciences Research (2010).

  • TRUEB R. M. The impact of oxidative stress on hair. International Journal of Cosmetic Science (2015).

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