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Does Diet Affect Male Pattern Baldness?

By Neha Kashyap
Reviewed by Jennifer T. Haley, MD, FAAD on February 24, 2021
Experts weigh in on nutrition and hair loss.

Up to half of men experience male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, by age 50, according to a 2016 review published in Endotext. While research says androgenetic alopecia is hormonal and mostly genetic, there might be other factors linked to male pattern baldness that remain unknown, says the National Institutes of Health. One of those factors could be diet. Here’s the evidence along with some expert advice.

Androgenic Alopecia and Your Diet

A 2017 study published in Archives of Dermatological Research found a diet high in raw vegetables and fresh herbs, such as a Mediterranean diet, might slow the onset of androgenetic alopecia. The study also found protein to be important for the development of hair health.

“There is no ideal diet for those with androgenetic alopecia or at risk for androgenetic alopecia, but there would be no harm in eating foods with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties such as fruits, vegetables, and fish,” Raman Madan, MD, a dermatologist at Huntington Hospital, New York tells WebMD Connect to Care.

Antioxidant foods fight cell damage while anti-inflammatory foods minimize inflammation — the body’s response to foreign invaders. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods include berries, dark green veggies, sweet potatoes, and beans. 

A 2018 study published in Scientific Reports found that mice who were fed a diet high in cholesterol and fat lost their hair sooner than mice who ate regular chow. This loss was then reversed by reducing fat digestion. The researchers concluded that treating hair loss by lowering fat intake is worth exploring. 

There might also be a link between male pattern baldness and vitamin D and iron, according to a 2018 review published in Dermatology and Therapy. Foods that are good sources of vitamin D include fish, milk and eggs, while iron can be found in red meat, legumes, and nuts. The review also found there was no clear evidence of a link between androgenetic alopecia and zinc, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin E, vitamin A, and biotin.

Interestingly, an over-supplementation of certain nutrients, including selenium, vitamin A, and vitamin E, can also be linked to hair loss, according to Madan. “In the absence of a true deficiency, too much supplementation may actually prove harmful to hair,” Madan says. So consult with your doctor and ask for a blood test before considering supplements for androgenetic alopecia or changing your diet.

“It is not particularly beneficial to go on crash diets, restrictive diets or to cut important food groups out when suffering from hair loss, as a lot of these foods contain essential and important nutrients,” Anna H. Chacon, MD FAAD, a dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic in Weston, Florida, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

Willam Yates, MD, FACS, a hair loss specialist in Chicago, recommends addressing hair loss as soon as possible. “There are prescription medications available that can be started as early as 18-years-old. These medications can slow or even reverse the process of the shrinking hair follicle,” Yates says.

Don’t Wait. Get Help Today.

The sooner you address hair loss, the more likely you are to prevent irreversible damage. Speak to a medical professional today to begin your journey to a fuller head of hair.