Vitamin E has antioxidant properties and is fat-soluble, enabling it to penetrate to a precise site in the cell membrane. These attributes may be important in its function (Packer et al, 1979) for hair growth.
A study by Naziroglu and Kokcam (2000) demonstrated an association between oxidative stress and hair loss. They found that patients with hair loss had a lower level of antioxidants than healthy individuals.
Beoy et al, (2010) investigated the effect of tocotrienol (vitamin E) supplementation on hair growth. An increase in hair number in volunteers who had alopecia as compared to the placebo group was observed. They attributed this to the antioxidant activity of tocotrienols which helped to reduce lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress in the scalp.
This was coherent with a study by Ghebremeskel et al (1991) who investigated the effect of dietary change on common marmosets (monkeys) with alopecia among other conditions. The experimental diet, which was low in lipid, high in vitamin E and devoid of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, resulted in significant increases in plasma vitamin E and complete fur regrowth. This was attributed to high circulating vitamin E which helped in prevention of oxidative stress as well as the correction of the membrane lipid balance.
Oxidative Stress and Hair Loss
How oxidative stress interferes with the hair growth cycle was elucidated by Naito et al, (2008). In their study on mouse hair, they observed that lipid peroxides induced the death of hair follicle cells followed by an early onset of the catagen phase, which marks the end of active hair growth. It has been suggested that vitamin E and vitamin C work synergistically – the latter being responsible for regeneration of the former (Packer, 1979).
The numerous studies conducted on the use of vitamin E to promote hair growth have yielded positive results. However, its use in the treatment of hair loss has not been thoroughly tested on humans (Natural Standard, 2011).
- Beoy, L.A., Woei, W.J. and Hay, Y.K., Effects Of Tocotrienol Supplementation On Hair Growth In Human Volunteers, Tropical Life Science Research, 2010 Dec; 21(2):91-99
- Ghebremeskel, K., Harbige, L.S., Williams, G, Crawford, M.A. and Hawkey, C., The Effect Of Dietary change On In Vitro Erythrocyte Haemolysis, Skin Lesions And Alopecia In Common Marmosets (Callithrix jacchus), Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Physiology,1991; 100(4):891-896
- Naito, A., Midorikawa, T., Yoshino, T. and Ohdera, M., Lipid Peroxides Induce Early Onset Of Catagen Phase In Murine Hair Cycles, International Journal of Molecular Medicine, 2008 Dec; 22(6):725-9.
- Natural Standard, The Research Behind Vitamin E, Natural Medicine Journal, December 2011; 3(12)
- Naziroglu, M. and Kokcam, I., Antioxidants And Lipid Peroxidation Status In The Blood Of Patients With Alopecia, Cell Biochemistry and Function, 2000; 18:169-173
- Packer, J.E., Slater, T.F. and Willson, R.L., Direct Observation Of A Free Radical Interaction Between Vitamin E And Vitamin C, Nature 278, 737 – 738 (19 April 1979)