When it comes to hair loss, zinc deficiency can be one of the overlooked reasons for hair loss in both men and women. I’ve personally experienced the effects of zinc deficiency from being on a vegan diet for many years, and it affected my health in many different ways, including obvious hair thinning.
Fortunately, correcting zinc deficiencies can be relatively easy, but it’s important to choose the best form of zinc that will be most bioavailable to the body.
The question is: which zinc supplement is the best one? Results are below!
One of the most bioavailable zinc supplements you can get is called Zinc Picolinate. It is much better than the typical zinc supplements you’ll find in a store – which are usually zinc oxide (the least bioavailable).
Why does zinc deficiency cause hair loss?
When a person is deficient in zinc, it can affect the entire body and how it functions. Zinc is important for proper gene regulation, enzymatic reactions, hormone production, and regulation of the immune system. So as you can imagine, if you’re low in zinc, then it’s certainly going to have an effect on your hair growth as well.
Zinc deficiency has long been known to cause telogen effluvium, a condition where the hair sheds in large amounts because the hair goes into the resting phase of hair growth, otherwise known as telogen phase.
Another condition that is common with zinc deficiency is called Alopecia Areata. This is a result of the immune system attacking the hair follicles and affecting growth.
Zinc deficiency may cause hair loss for various reasons, these include the following:
- Autoimmunity from dysregulation of the immune system
- Cause low levels of thyroid and sex hormones
- Increased level of DHT from a higher conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone
- Depressed cell proliferation and dysregulation of the cell cycle.
Taking a zinc supplement stopped my hair loss and made my hair much thicker again!
As I said earlier, I’ve been a vegetarian and vegan for a long time (since 2007), and it was only recently that I became more complacent about my diet and supplements. After some time, I noticed some strange things happening, such as getting sick a lot, dry skin, acne, and my hair were becoming much thinner.
There were some other odd things going on, but those were the main things.
When I began to look for a cause and got a few blood tests, I started looking at my diet in some detail by using an app to crunch all the numbers to see what nutrients I was lacking in.
It seemed like zinc was an obvious issue for me, especially considering that I eat a plant-based diet which is loaded with copper. It makes zinc deficiency much more likely as zinc and copper both compete for absorption in the gut.
I also had stumbled across a forum post on long hair community which gave me a bit of hope that this was the solution. It was pretty soon after that I began taking a zinc supplement and my whole world changed.
My immune system got much better, and haven’t been properly sick since. My hair took a bit longer to recover though! It’s been over a year now, and the difference is huge compared to what it was like back then.
I should mention also that I had been using zinc in the past, but it was a one from the local store, and after doing a bit of research, it seemed it was the least bioavailable! It was zinc oxide. You’ll probably run across this one in supermarkets more of often than some others which are much more effective in correction zinc deficiency.
Who is at most risk of developing a zinc deficiency?
Anyone can develop a zinc deficiency, but certain groups of people might be more prone to be low in this mineral.
- Strict vegetarian or vegan
- Eat a plant-based diet which is high in copper but low in zinc
- Breastfeeding women
- Excessive alcohol use
- Digestive disorders which impair absorption
- Low calorie intake and restricted diets.
Which zinc supplement should you take to stop hair loss?
There are many different forms of zinc. The mineral is hard to absorb by the body, so it’s usually attached to amino acids or chelated
You might also get along better with some forms of zinc than others. I personally take Zinc Picolinate because I feel it works great and doesn’t give me any stomach problems, even at high doses of 50-100 mg. Such dosages are not recommended long term, because of the risk of toxicity.
Study 1 – Zinc Picolinate is the best form of zinc to take
In a study conducted in 1987, researchers studied 15 people and split them up into 4 groups.
- The first group took zinc picolinate
- The second group took zinc citrate
- The third group took zinc gluconate
- The fourth group took a placebo
At the end of four weeks, they looked at hair samples, as well as urine and erythrocyte zinc levels.
Only in the zinc picolinate group did levels of zinc increase significantly (study).
Study 2 – Zinc absorption in healthy adults
In a more recent study, researchers looked at young healthy adults observed which zinc supplement had better absorption without food. They tested zinc citrate, zinc gluconate, and zinc oxide.
Looking at the fractional absorption of zinc, it was observed that both zinc citrate and zinc gluconate were absorbed well. However, there was a bigger variation in absorption in the zinc citrate group.
Zinc oxide was the least well absorbed, and 3 of the patients had no change whatsoever. Indicating they were unable to absorb it at all. (study)
Breaking it down
- Zinc citrate absorption was 61.3%
- ZInc gluconate was 60.9%
- Zinc oxide was 49.9%
Based on these two studies in humans, it appears that taking either zinc picolinate or zinc gluconate would be the best forms of zinc to take.
Now Foods – Zinc Picolinate – 50 mg
Now foods are one of my favorite supplement brands that I’ve stuck to for years. It was this supplement which helped me to correct my own zinc deficiency, and this is why I’m recommending it. But not only that, Zinc Picolinate is one of the most bioavailable forms of zinc.
This zinc supplement is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
This supplement is also not recommended for long-term use. If you are considering taking it long term, please consult with your doctor.
Pure Encapsulations – Zinc Picolinate – 30 mg
One of the things this company emphasizes is its natural and hypoallergenic formulations, so you don’t have to worry about allergic reactions to any of its ingredients.
Free from: gluten, dairy, soy, and it’s labeled as non-GMO.
Suitable for: vegans and vegetarians.
Tested: The manufacturing of their products is done in a state-of-the-art facility and ensures purity.
The supplement has a lot of great reviews.
Bulk Supplements – Zinc Gluconate
Being a powder, and not in capsule form, you can easily mix this supplement with your favorite juice or drink of your choice.
How to take: 225 mg (1/16 teaspoon) to 450 mg ( (1/8 teaspoon) per day.
A 450 mg dose of Zinc gluconate equals around 60 mg of elemental zinc.
Are there any side effects from taking Zinc?
It’s recommended that you take zinc with some food to avoid any stomach upset. However, the two forms of zinc that I have recommended here are quite easy on the stomach and shouldn’t give most people any problems.
Do not take over the stated dose of the supplement.
Signs of taking too much zinc include nausea, pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. However, large doses of zinc are needed in the excess of 300 mg a day.
One of the harshest forms of zinc on the stomach is zinc sulfate, and I do not recommend this form of zinc.
If you’re planning on taking zinc for months or indefinitely, you should consult with your doctor and lower your dose over time, as it’s not recommended you take high doses of zinc long term.
Zinc: Copper balance
Use tools like CRON-O-METER to ensure that your zinc to copper balance is correct. Aim for a 10:1 ratio. That is 10 mg of zinc for every 1 mg of copper in your diet.
This will help avoid any imbalance of these minerals.
Taking zinc has literally changed everything for me in the past year. It has made me feel much more healthy and not only improved my hair but also has improved my immune system, my skin and I have a lot more energy.
Zinc deficiencies are quite common in the world, but severe deficiencies are more often seen in poor areas of the world.
Give zinc a try and see if it helps you! 🙂
1. The Therapeutic Effect and the Changed Serum Zinc Level after Zinc Supplementation in Alopecia Areata Patients Who Had a Low Serum Zinc Level
2. Zinc Deficiency Associated with Hypothyroidism: An Overlooked Cause of Severe Alopecia
3. Oral zinc therapy for zinc deficiency-related telogen effluvium
4. Analysis of Serum Zinc and Copper Concentrations in Hair Loss