Zinc supplements for hair loss: Are they needed?

Zinc not necessary for individuals with normal levels

I'm commonly asked about zinc and hair loss. Is supplementing a good idea? Could it be harmful? 

In general, oral zinc does not provide any added benefit for most people with normal levels.  If one has intestinal issues leading to poor absorption, or dietary issues that might give zinc deficiency, it could be advised. 

I generally check zinc levels in patients with hair loss who fit in these categories

1. massive weight loss

2. gastric bypass surgery in last 2 years

3. alcoholism

4. diarrheal diseases (inflammatory bowel disease and others)

5. restrictive diets

6. diabetes

7. protein restrictive diets

8. pregnancy 

9. strict vegan diets

Long term zinc supplementation can affect many metals in the body, including copper, so I never advise my own patients to supplement without checking the levels of other metals periodically. All metals in the body need to be kept in balance for optimal health, so supplementation without need is not something I advise my own patients. 

Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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