Thinning hair is becoming a major concern for millions of Americans, 60 million in fact. Both men and women suffer from hair loss as early as their 20s, and the condition takes a significant emotional toll. That's why hair restoration has become a booming industry—topical solutions, supplements, high-tech devices, and surgical options. To learn more about this growing area, I chatted with Roland Peralta, cofounder and president of Nutrafol, which is one of the notable supplements on the market. Here's what he had to say about healthy hair and treatment options today (and tune in later this month for a webinar all about the same hair-raising issue).
Why is hair restoration and hair growth supplements a growing industry?
In addition to the tens of millions of women suffering from hair loss, we are now seeing unprecedented numbers of women as soon as in their early 20’s today experiencing hair thinning and hair loss. Men historically have expressed their pre-disposition to balding as early as their 20’s, but women? It’s impossible to believe that up until recently, women had limited or no choices. The opportunity to create effective nutraceutical solutions for both women and men is now given the breakthroughs in the biotech sector that are now being applied to botanicals showing promise as therapeutics against hair loss. The science is compelling and clears the path for early and immediate adoption of these nutraceuticals to be included in hair loss treatment protocols. With education, we believe the industry will flourish as it ramps up to meet the demand of millions of people seeking a solution.
Can you explain how and why these supplements work?
What we now understand is that vitamins and minerals alone are simply not enough to address the underlying triggers at the root of hair loss and thinning. Prescribing just biotin or marine collagen based supplements is nothing less than a prescription for endless hope. Nutrafol was formulated by three western medical doctors that understood this basic concept.
The botanicals used in Nutrafol possess therapeutic phytochemicals that synergistically work to target hair damaging molecules. These next generation ingredients target stress hormones, androgen hormones like DHT, inflammatory molecules that negatively alter the signaling that controls your hair growth cycle and consequently push it into the resting phase or even shorten the growth phase. Inflammation we also know causes vaso-constriction and slows down the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the follicles. To address that, many of these ingredients synergistically work together to improve blood circulation improving the flow of nutrients to the follicles. These same ingredients empower the body to naturally produce very important anti-oxidants that are involved in the repair process of the damaged follicles as well as boost the immune system and further contribute to the healing of damaged follicles.
What makes Nutrafol unique and stand out from the competition
The company was the first to market to identify the use of standardized botanicals with clinical evidence of their synergistic capabilities to target very specific triggers at the root of hair loss. The hair growth and hair loss supplement landscape is full of products that simply use a sprinkle of an ingredient then borrow science to make a claim. It’s all snake oil with no evidence that the ingredients they are using are still bioactive. That’s the inherent problem with the supplement sector: No one is being held to any standards for efficacy. If you don’t know where your ingredients have been sourced, you have no idea whether they are effective in doing what they are supposed to do. For anything to work, you need to use clinically efficacious dosages.
What are the key ingredients?
There are 20 ingredients in the formulation. To only name a few, the star ingredients include standardized botanicals such as Sensoril Ashwagandha, which is clinically proven to lower hair damaging stress hormones and hair damaging inflammatory molecules. Standardized tocotrienols/tocopherol complex EVNolMax were proven in a human clinical trial to target lipid peroxidation and reverse hair loss within months of use. BCM-95 Bio-curcumin is extracted from turmeric and standardized to 95 percent curcuminoids and plays a key role in countering hair loss triggers. US Plus Saw Palmetto also plays a role in countering the DHT molecule and the consequences of elevated DHT level. Hydrolyzed marine collagen provides essential amino acids at a molecular weight that makes them more bioavailable (2,000 dalton). Traditional marine collagen has a molecular weight of 300,000 dalton making it more difficult to absorb into the body. These four ingredients play a significant role in lowering hair damaging inflammatory molecules while simultaneously promoting hair growth factors that are known to improve anagen phase of one’s hair growth cycle.
Who can most benefit from Nutrafol?
Men and women with early stage thinning who want to use it as an anti-aging preventative to anyone experiencing aggressive thinning or hair loss. This anti-aging smart supplement can also help anyone interested in growing their hair faster and longer.
How are the supplements different for men and women?
As men produce higher levels of hair damaging hormones known as DHT (testosterone converts to this hair damaging molecule) than women, the Men’s formulation has a higher dosage of the dual patented DHT hormone inhibitor than the women’s formulation. Women produce lower levels of DHT and therefore would require less of this natural DHT inhibitor.
What are the most common hair-loss concerns of patients?
Concerns such as hair loss due to stress has always been an issue. Early inexplicable thinning with individuals with no hair loss history in their family remains a major concern given the limited choices that have been available until today. The belief is that if you have been dealt ‘bad genes’ that there is nothing you can do about it. Men and women are concerned with the thought of having to take a pharmaceutical that may or may not work with potential severe side effects.
How do concerns differ between men and women?
Men who are genetically predisposed to hair loss have the option of using drugs like Propecia (Finesteride) with the understanding that there may be consequences like lower libido and sexual dysfunction as a side effect. Women have little to no choices today other than FDA approved Minoxidil with the understanding that once you stop using it your hair may fall out. Because most men believe you have no choice but to accept your fate, they often wait too long to address hair thinning.
Women are more inclined to see it as a problem and take a more proactive early approach to finding solutions. Solutions that empower people to take an early preventative (prevention) approach are only beginning to surface in treatment protocols.
What other habits and treatments enhance the results and benefits of Nutrafol® ?
Physicians using PRP for hair loss have indicated that Nutrafol potentiates the efficacy of this treatment with great success. Using natural topicals and shampoos to maintain a healthy scalp skin is essential. Dietary choices to include a low inflammation diet is critical. Including a Vitamin B complex in your regimen is also an excellent adjunct to Nutrafol.
What scientific studies back up the supplement claims?
There are more than 15 clinical studies associated with many of the patented nutraceutical ingredients in the Nutrafol® formulation. These studies proved that these ingredients were able to target many of the damaging molecules associated with hair loss. For example, we often speak of how stress can trigger hair loss and to minimize this, you must lower elevated stress hormones like cortisol. In a human clinical trial, Sensoril Ashwagandha in Nutrafol was able to lower this hair damaging hormone by as much as 32 percent.
What do you predict for the future of hair growth and hair-loss prevention in the future?
We see that the medical community now recognizes that hair loss is a multifactorial problem that requires more than one solution. Stem cell hair transplantation has already been approved and in use in the EU. This technology is the next generation of hair transplants as it means a patient can have unlimited follicles transplanted.
What’s next for Nutrafol as a company?
Nutrafol is currently developing with its ingredient partners new brand extensions including topical treatments. Nutrafol will target molecules that have only recently been identified in hair loss with clinically proven cosmeceuticals, creating an opportunity for people to use natural alternatives to minoxidil with demonstrable efficacy. We’re excited to hear the overwhelmingly positive feedback from our medical advisors on the future of these new products. We are extremely confident the outcome of our clinical study will make Nutrafol the next top of mind/go to brand for hair growth and hair loss prevention.