Marine complex supplement promotes hair growth in balding men: RCT

By Adi Menayang contact

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock
A total of 60 men with thinning hair were observed for 180 days to compare how a marine complex supplement of shark and mollusk powder promotes hair growth versus a placebo.

Supplement company Lifes2Good funded the current study analyzing its Viviscal Man​ supplement, which is made out of a marine blend and marketed for its ability to “promote existing hair growth from within.”

Published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology​, ​researcher Glynis Ablon from the Ablon Skin Institute and Research Center in California proposed the supplement’s use as a new way to treat the benign condition androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness.

The study drug: Shark and mollusk powder

According to the report, ingredients of marine origin have been observed to promote nail, hair, and skin health. It cited studies from the Journal of International Medical Research​, one looked at Imedeen by Pfizer​, and another looked at Lifes2Good’s Vivida​, which suggested how the glycosaminoglycan and proteins from marine animals can benefit growth in skin and hair.

The study analyzed Viviscal Man, a supplement containing vitamin C from acerola powder and ascorbic acid, zinc, a combination of shark and mollusk powder at 452.9 mg, stem of horsetail extract at 24.5 mg, and flax seed extract at 50 mg.

Participants were instructed to ingest two tablets daily (supplement or placebo), one with a meal in the morning and another in the evening.

Study design

Study participants were selected if they had thinning hair associated with clinically diagnosed male pattern hair loss based on physical presentation of hair loss and family history. Participants were required to maintain a consistent haircut, hair color, and shampooing frequency, and to not make substantial changes in their diet, medications, or exercise routine.

On the first visit, a physical examination was performed to summarize each participant’s basic body systems, scalp, vital signs, and BMI. Examinations were repeated on days 90 and 180.

Examinations included digital photography and trichoanalysis of a selected portion of the scalp, a hair pull test (grasping 50-60 hairs between the thumb, index finger, and middle finger at their base), and questionnaires for quality of life and general lifestyle.

Results: Hair count and quality of life

At the final examination day, total hair count increased from 162.20 at baseline to 174.89 at day 180, while total hair density increased from 159.71 to 172.17. In the placebo group, there was no improvement noticed.

Results from the quality of life questionnaire showed that three of six quality of life measures experienced an improvement. Questions included “I feel my thinning hair makes me look less attractive” ​and “my thinning hair affects my self-confidence.” ​Participants were asked to rate zero to four, the highest indicating agreement with the phrase.

“Excellent safety profile” for marine complex

According to the researcher, the results add to scientific evidence of the marine blend’s benefits on human hair, nail, and skin health.

The researcher argued that this oral supplement may be a convenient alternative to nonprescription minoxidil, a popular hair-loss remedy, because minoxidil requires twice-daily topical application.

During this study, there were also no reports of adverse effects for up to 180 days of treatment from the supplemented group of participants.

“The results of this placebo-controlled study show for the first time that a nutritional supplement containing a marine complex and other ingredients decreases hair shedding and promotes hair growth in men with thinning hair, specifically androgenic alopecia,”​ the report said.

“In this era, patients are looking for simple drug-free options, avoiding the risk factors involved with prescription medications. This marine complex supplement provides this optimal opportunity.”

Source: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology
Published online ahead print, doi: 10.1111/jocd.12265
A 6-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the ability of a marine complex supplement to promote hair growth in men with thinning hair
Author: Glynis Ablon MD, FAAD

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