It has been reported that 52% of women and 28% of men are very-to-extremely upset by their hair loss.16,17 Therefore, novel therapies that would provide effective relief, without unwanted adverse effects (AEs), are of great significance.
As elucidated above, one of the factors that can influence hair condition is diet or nutrition. Whereas there are examples of the AEs of severe malnutrition on hair,22-24 little systematic attention
has been paid to the impact of average Western diets on hair growth. Isolated reports have evaluated the influence of various dietary supplements such as millet extracts, biotin, L-cystine, and B-complex vitamins on hair.8 More recently, the impact of supplements containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty
acids, and a mixture of antioxidants including lycopene9 and pantothenic acid,10 has also been studied.
Viviscal® (Lifes2good, Inc., Chicago, IL) is a dietary supplement that contains as its primary active ingredient a combination of proteins, lipids, and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) of marine origin,
as well as several of the ingredients noted above.11 While there is a paucity of studies examining the dietary benefits of GAGs on hair growth, their impact on skin health and photoaging
has been documented.12 Patients with facial photoaging who received an oral supplement containing collagen, chondroitin
sulfate, and other constituents displayed increased serum levels of hyaluronic acid and fibronectin compared with baseline, which, subsequently, was associated with improved appearance of the skin.12
In the past decade an increasing number of reports have provided support for nutraceuticals as effective and safe treatment
options.25,26 Furthermore, as patients search for options to support and enhance their hair, there seems to be a growing trend toward supplementation compared with prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications (Figure 1). Since the early
1990’s, numerous studies have examined and established the safety and efficacy of Viviscal in promoting existing hair growth and reducing hair shedding. Here we review the results
of recent clinical studies and provide a discussion among experts in the field regarding the problem of hair loss and its available treatments.