Astaxanthin and Hair Loss: What’s the Relationship? A Scientific Answer

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    Astaxanthin is an important antioxidant popular for skin & eye health but may also boost hair growth and reduce hair loss in both men & women.

    Does astaxanthin work for hair loss? What the research says

    Hair loss is a phenomenon that can occur in both men and women and can impact quality of life, with some people reporting emotional impact as well. There are several potential contributing factors to hair loss, including hormones, stress, diet, lifestyle, and age. One major factor is oxidative stress, which can occur from stressors like environmental toxins, injury, unhealthy diet, and lack of sleep, as well as normal daily processes like exercise. Hair loss can also be a normal part of aging.

    Astaxanthin is a carotenoid that has antioxidant properties that can manage oxidative stress. It is already known to support various health issues related to oxidative stress, including protecting eyes and skin against oxidative damage. Astaxanthin appears to also be a potential promising supplement for addressing occasional hair loss related to oxidative stress.

    Astaxanthin and male hair loss

    In men, the hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone) plays an essential role in male sexual development, like the formation of male sex organs. As the male lifespan progresses, DHT plays a role in male-related physical characteristics like promoting prostate growth and facial and body hair. In some men, DHT can also lead to hair loss.

    Testosterone can be converted into DHT, which is significantly more potent than testosterone and other androgen hormones. In some men, excess conversion to DHT through the 5-alpha reductase enzyme can lead to hair loss.

    In animal studies, astaxanthin has been found to promote healthy testosterone and DHT levels. This antioxidant compound significantly increased levels of the naturally occurring cellular antioxidant system Superoxide Dismutase (SOD). Supporting this antioxidant system, among others, can help keep levels of oxidative stress in check, which may be supportive for preventing excess hair loss.

    In addition to excess conversion of testosterone to DHT, excess conversion of testosterone to estradiol (a form of estrogen hormone) can also occur. Both scenarios leave less testosterone available for action in the male body. A study of healthy adult males found that a daily dose of a combo supplement containing astaxanthin and saw palmetto significantly increased testosterone levels while decreasing DHT and estradiol levels.

    While these results are promising, additional clinical trials in humans are needed before conclusions can be drawn regarding dose and duration of astaxanthin for hair loss.

    Always talk to your dermatologist about hair concerns so any underlying issues can be addressed.

    Astaxanthin and female hair loss

    Balance of reproductive hormones in females is different than in males. Testosterone and DHT levels are generally much lower in females. However, some women may experience a particular pattern of hormone imbalance where there is reduced estrogen and progesterone while having excess levels of androgen hormones. The presence of excess DHT hormone can lead to hair loss as well.

    Astaxanthin has a relationship with female hormone balance. One study in adult women found that six months of daily intake of a combination supplement including astaxanthin improved hair growth and reduced hair shedding. Due to multiple ingredients in formula, it cannot be extrapolated to conclude that astaxanthin specifically helps with hair growth. But we do know that astaxanthin can support antioxidant capacity to combat oxidative stress, a process that may protect hair growth in general.

    An animal study showed that astaxanthin can improve ovarian function by alleviating the oxidative stress in developing follicles and ovarian cells caused by BPA administration. BPA is a common chemical found in hard plastics that can disrupt female hormone production. In this study, astaxanthin supplementation enabled the cells to mature normally and restore production of estrogen and progesterone.

    New moms may experience excess hair shedding during the postpartum period after having a baby. Experts say that falling levels of estrogen during this time is the cause, and this is a normal and often temporary process. If hair loss continues beyond a few months, this may point to additional issues that need to be addressed, such as nutrient deficiencies. Always express hair loss concerns with your dermatologist.

    Additional factors of nutrition can also contribute to hair loss. Adequate nutrients are needed for hair growth. One study found a correlation between lysine (an essential amino acid) and iron supporting healthy hair. Lysine is essential for collagen production, which is vital for hair growth and hair follicle health. Other research also shows that astaxanthin reduces the breakdown of collagen in the skin that can result from common environmental factors. Remember to always measure iron levels before supplementing since iron in high levels can be toxic.

    Blood sugar imbalances leading to higher levels of insulin are also well documented as a mechanism behind higher levels of testosterone in some women.

    Does astaxanthin help with hair growth during menopause?

    As women age, approaching and entering menopause, the hormones estrogen and progesterone naturally decline. This affects collagen production in a two-fold way: collagen production declines with age, first of all, as well as with the decline in estrogen levels. Since collagen is the major component in hair, menopause can bring some dramatic changes to hair growth.

    Reducing oxidative stress to boost collagen production is a crucial factor in hair health. In a clinical trial, a nutraceutical supplement including astaxanthin among other ingredients, such as keratin and collagen, promoted hair growth in menopausal women experiencing hair thinning. Since this was a combination formula, we can’t say for certain whether or not astaxanthin played a role. However, we do know that astaxanthin’s antioxidant properties can help combat oxidative stress.

    Can astaxanthin actually cause hair loss?

    No studies have been conducted that report hair loss due to astaxanthin supplementation. Hair loss is a complex topic because there are several contributing factors, including:

    • Genetics,
    • Oxidative stress from smoking, UV rays, chemical exposure, pollutants from environment, brushing, tight hairstyles,
    • Hormonal changes like pregnancy, stress, etc,
    • Normal daily shedding of about 50-100 hairs per day

    It is important to keep in mind that hair loss can be multifactorial.

    When should I consider taking an astaxanthin supplement?

    Astaxanthin is well researched for its antioxidant properties that can support many aspects of health, including the health of your brain, skin, eyes, and athletic recovery and performance.

    The antioxidant property found in astaxanthin can support brain health and cognitive function, with one study showing better memory in participants after 12 weeks of supplementation.

    Well known for its benefits to skin health, astaxanthin promotes evenness in skin tone, helps keep skin moisturized, and shows significant protective benefits against oxidative stress in skin which contributes to premature aging.

    Eye health can get a boost from astaxanthin, which can strengthen the retina against oxidative stress from a variety of sources, such as UV light exposure, eye strain from close viewing, and blue light exposure from digital devices.

    If you are looking to support exercise recovery and performance, astaxanthin can delay time to exhaustion during exercise and has even been shown to improve cyclists’ racing times.

    It is best to choose a naturally derived source of astaxanthin, as synthetic versions have not been extensively studied for human safety.

    Care/of's astaxanthin supplement is one of the purest forms of natural astaxanthin available. It is naturally derived from algae that are phototropically grown in a closed system and fed by naturally purified Himalayan mountain water. This astaxanthin is non-GMO and C.L.E.A.N certified as well as third party tested, as are all of Care/of’s products.

    Key takeaways

    While hair loss is a complex process, oxidative stress plays a role in many different factors that may lead to loss of hair, including hormone imbalances and issues with collagen production. Astaxanthin is a well studied carotenoid with powerful antioxidant properties that has been shown to reduce oxidative stress, support hormone balance, and boost collagen production. Outside of hair health, this amazing antioxidant benefits the health of your brain, eyes, and skin, and it’s even been shown to boost exercise performance. When choosing to supplement, be sure to choose a naturally sourced astaxanthin supplement that has been verified to be of high quality.

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    Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
    Medical Content Manager
    Dr. Montrond-Correia is a licensed naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition specialist (CNS). She holds degrees from University of Bridgeport, Georgetown University, and University of Saint Joseph, and supplemented her education with internships in the health and wellness space. She's focused on research, herbal medicine, nutrigenomics, and integrative and functional medicine. She makes time for exercise, artistic activities, and enjoying delicious food.
    Victoria Peck-Gray, RD
    Freelance Contributor
    Victoria is a registered dietitian and functional nutritionist who helps people with resistant weight loss and PCOS transform their metabolic health and lose weight through a functional nutrition and lifestyle approach that addresses root causes. She is owner of her private practice, Wonderfully Made Nutrition and also leads her group metabolic coaching program for women called The 4 Method.