A lot of people think that the worst side effects of treatment are over when chemotherapy ends. Anyone who's treated cancer with additional therapies know that isn't necessarily true.
In fact, the end of traditional treatments like chemo and radiation is often the beginning of other treatments, including hormone therapy. Many men and women with breast, prostate, and ovarian cancer will be required to take some form of hormone therapy for 5-10 years following the end of traditional cancer treatment.
One example of hormone therapy is Tamoxifen. A common part of treatment plans for hormone positive breast cancer, this treatment is known to cause hair loss and thinning. Although the hair loss typically regulates after the first year, in most cases the recommended timeframe for taking Tamoxifen has been extended to 10 years, so thinning hair is something some women and men will need to contend with for quite some time.
We've put together a list of a few supplements you can consider taking to promote hair growth right after chemo, and to help reduce side effects from hormonal therapy.
Before adding any supplements to your diet, consult with your doctor to ensure the supplement is safe for you, your body, and your diet.
Biotin can increase the rate of hair follicle growth by boosting your keratin, according to the National Institutes of Health. Keratin is a basic protein that makes up your hair, skin, and nails. It’s clear that biotin improves your body’s keratin infrastructure, but beyond that, researchers aren’t really sure what biotin’s role in hair or skincare is. To that end, research on the effectiveness of keratin is sparse, and individual accounts of its effectiveness vary.
Biotin is not made in the body, and in order to be effective, it must be consumed. The best natural sources of biotin are meat, eggs, fish, seeds, nuts, and vegetables. Biotin deficiency is rare, so the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t offer a recommended dietary allowance (RDA). When looking for a supplement, aim for one that offers 30-100mcg / day.
Zinc plays an integral role in building and repairing hair tissues, ensuring that the oil glands around the follicles work properly. A zinc deficiency results in protein structure changes to hair follicles, weakening their integrity and leading to new hair falling out more quickly than usual.
Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food, but red meat and poultry provide the majority of zinc in the American diet. Other good food sources include beans, nuts, certain types of seafood (such as crab and lobster), whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, and dairy products.
A deficiency of this micronutrient often leads to hair loss and thinning. The recommended daily dose is 11mg for men and 8mg for women, so make sure you’re getting enough of this micronutrient if you’re after healthy hair!
Free radical damage can block growth and cause your hair to age. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect against the oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
In addition to protection against stress, your body needs vitamin C to create a protein known as collagen — an important part of hair structure.
Vitamin C also helps your body absorb iron, a mineral necessary for hair growth. Strawberries, peppers, guavas, and citrus fruits are all good sources of vitamin C, but if you can’t get enough of these into your diet, look for a supplement with the recommended dose of 65 to 90 milligrams (mg) a day.
Folic acid is primarily responsible for healthy cell growth, mainly cells that comprise skin tissues, including hair and nail tissues.
Beans, broccoli and citrus all have lots of natural folic acid, and it’s also included within most multi-vitamins.
The recommended daily dose is 400 mcg for adults; make sure your multivitamin includes a full dose, though taking more won’t make your hair grow any faster!
Horsetail extract is known to improve the circulation of your blood, which in turn leads to healthy hair follicles. When your scalp gets enough blood, it increases its ability to produce more hair. As an added bonus, horsetail is a known antioxidant, which helps reduce free radicals in the rest of your body!
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Nutrifol is an over-the-counter supplement that works to relieve mild or moderate hair thinning due to age, stress, or genetics. The supplement also aims to increase growth and strengthen existing hair to prevent breakage. Results are clinically proven, with the majority of users reporting an increase in hair volume after about six weeks of use.
An always reliable brand that offers the highest quality of supplements as well as no artificial ingredients, fillers, or dyes. All Pure Genomics supplements are made with only premium ingredients sourced from trusted suppliers and guided by our nutritional experts, then carefully manufactured and tested to verify their potency and purity.
Don't see a supplement that's right for you?
Reach out to OneVillage if you’re having trouble finding supplements for cancer patients, or would like more information on the ones we’ve outlined here.
We’d be happy to have one of our volunteer ambassadors work with you on an individual basis. Simply send an us email with the title “supplements” to firstname.lastname@example.org.