Author: Sarah Belgravia
Getting the right balance of vitamins and minerals is crucial for your overall health, including that of your hair.
Researchers at the Ain Shams University in Cairo discovered that people with Alopecia Areata could find their autoimmune condition worsens if they have low levels of serum zinc.
Zinc’s role in hair growth
Zinc is a trace element which plays a pivotal role in the hair growth cycle.
Hair follicles need zinc to produce new hair shafts during the anagen (growth) phase of the cycle. If a person’s zinc intake is not sufficient it can cause poor immune function, and hormone imbalances, as well as hair loss.
Usually this type of deficiency triggers a temporary condition known as Telogen Effluvium. This displays as diffuse shedding all over the scalp and can last up to 12 months, or longer if it becomes chronic – generally where the underlying cause (such as a dietary deficiency) is not addressed.
However, the newly released findings of this Egyptian study show that zinc levels may also influence the patchy hair loss caused by Alopecia Areata.
Significantly lower levels noted
The purpose of the Cairo research was to evaluate the effects of serum zinc levels (zinc levels in the blood) in people with ‘newly diagnosed and resistant lesions’ of Alopecia Areata.
Fifty participants were studied in comparison to healthy control subjects who were matched by age and sex. Twenty-five of the test subjects were newly diagnosed with alopecia areata, whilst the other half had resistant lesions.
Serum zinc levels were assessed in all 100 volunteers in order to compare the test subjects’ mean results with those of the control groups. Results were compared between patients and controls, patient subgroups, and between patient’s subgroup and controls.
Study notes state that correlations between ‘serum zinc level and extent of AA and its duration were also done in all patients and each patient’s subgroup’.
Researchers lead by Nermeen S.A. Abdel Fattah, M.D. discovered the volunteers with alopecia areata had ‘significantly lower serum zinc levels’ than the control group. Furthermore, those test subjects with resistant alopecia areata also showed significantly lower zinc levels than those who were newly diagnosed.
According to the study, these findings confirmed a ‘significant inverse correlation between serum zinc level, severity of disease, and disease duration in all patients, as well as in patients with resistant alopecia areata’.
“Assessment of serum zinc level in patients with alopecia areata appears useful as a marker of severity, disease duration, and resistance to therapies,” the authors write. “Further studies are therefore recommended to evaluate the role of zinc supplements in patients with alopecia areata, especially those with severe, longstanding, or resistant lesions.”
Concluding their report, the study’s authors hypothesised that ‘given that lower serum zinc levels are associated with worse outcomes in patients with alopecia areata… zinc supplements may provide a therapeutic benefit’.
“These findings are definitely interesting. However, there was no investigation into the severity and duration of Alopecia Areata in affected people who take zinc tablets – this would definitely make for interesting reading as a follow-up study” says senior Belgravia hair loss specialist, Leonora Doclis.
She also advises, “As long as they keep within the recommended daily allowance guidelines it could be worth people with Alopecia trying zinc tablets or nutritional supplements that contain zinc, such as Hair Vitalics, however, they should discuss this with their doctor or hair loss specialist first. It is important to regulate zinc intake and keep it within a healthy range as – just like a lack of zinc can cause hair loss, so too can an excess.”
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.