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Patients With Alopecia Using More Supplements Per Day, Study Finds

A research group out of the department of dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA, have found that patients with alopecia use an average of 4.5 supplements per day. Their study was presented as a poster abstract at the American Academy of Dermatology Virtual Meeting Experience 2020.

Hundreds of products are marketed as stimulants that promote hair growth, though evidence of supplement efficacy is conflicting. So, the group retrospectively reviewed data collected on patient intake forms at a specialty alopecia clinic, including patient demographics, type of hair loss, and current and past treatments along with current supplement use.

In total, 930 patients were included in the analysis; 81% were female, and 71% were Caucasian, 8% Asian, 7% black, and 13% other. Nationally, US adults take 2.5 supplements per day, including:

  • Vitamin D;
  • A multivitamin;
  • Biotin;
  • Hair-specific supplement;
  • Omega 3; or
  • B-vitamin complex.

The present study data showed that patients would take as many as 4.5 supplements a day if their supplements were specifically for hair loss (ie, biotin, hair-specific). The disparity in supplement consumption between patients with alopecia and the national average was further exacerbated by younger age. Patients with alopecia aged 18 to 39 years were 23% more likely to increase supplement use (63% alopecia vs 40% national average), along with 19% of patients with alopecia aged 60 to 64 years (73% alopecia vs 54% national average). Interestingly, patients with alopecia aged 65 years and older were only marginally more likely to increase supplement use (78% alopecia, 74% national average).

The researchers noted that supplements are often considered harmless for patients to take. However, dermatologists should be aware of lack of regulatory oversight as well as lack of demonstrated efficacy.

Reference

Burns LJ, De Souza B, Hagigeorges D, Flynn E, Prasad S, Senna MM. Use of dietary supplements among alopecia patients. Presented at:  American Academy of Dermatology Virtual Meeting Experience 2020; June 12-14, 2020.

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