Growth hormones for hair loss
Growth hormones for hair loss

GROWTH HORMONE, GROWTH FACTORS AND THE HAIR GROWTH CYCLE

The normal hair growth cycle is dependent on a number of intrinsic factors.  Hair remains in growing phase (anagen) or regresses into resting phase (telogen) when signalled to do so by growth factors like insulin-like growth factor.

Growth factors are dependant on growth hormone, thus for hair to remain in growing phase for the optimal period, we require sufficient amounts of growth hormone to increase the growth factors that stimulate hair growth.

GROWTH HORMONE AND METABOLISM

Growth hormone (also known as somatotropin) is a peptide hormone produced in the pituitary gland and released into the blood for circulation around the body.  Growth hormone is necessary for the reproduction of cells and stimulation of growth processes in the body.  When levels of growth hormone are low, a person may experience thinning hair and hair loss

Secretion of growth hormone is regulated by the hypothalamus which is in turn dependent on nutrition, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), vigorous exercise, sleeping patterns, niacin (vitamin B3) and hormones such as androgen and estrogen.  Growth hormone is inhibited by free fatty acids, stress, dihydrotesterone (DHT), high blood sugar and cortisol.

Growth hormone also supports the action of vitamin D in that it aids calcium retention, increases the synthesis of proteins, maintains normal function of the immune systems and supports the conversion of thyroid hormone for increased metabolism.

Growth hormones can not penetrate cells so they rely on binding to receptors to activate certain pathways.  One pathway that growth hormone stimulates is the JAK-STAT signalling pathway.  Disturbances in JAK signalling is linked to hair loss conditions such as alopecia areata.  Growth hormone stimulates insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) stimulation in the liver.  IGF-1 is essential for the continuation of a normal hair growth cycle and the prevention of thinning hair.

Growth hormone and hair loss
Growth hormone diagram

THE EFFECT OF IGF-1 ON HAIR GROWTH

IGF-1 is expressed in the dermal papilla, located in the dermis at the base of the hair shaft.  IGF-1 affects follicular differentiation, follicle remodelling and initiation of the hair growth cycle.  In the presence of IGF-1: blood vessels dilate allowing a higher level of nutrients to reach the hair follicle, sebaceous gland function is regulated and production of keratin within keratin cells is increased.

IGF-1 also supports the uptake of glucose into keratin cells and increases collagen gene expression to support the network surrounding the hair follicle niche.

IGF-1 and hair loss
IGF-1 and hair loss

IGF-1 DEFICIENCY AND THE IMPACT ON OVERALL HEALTH

IGF-1 is important for hair health, but it also has many other roles in the body that indirectly contribute to hair health.  Evidence consistently links IGF-1 deficiency with, impaired lipid profile, insulin resistance, high glucose levels, obesity, malabsorption and cardiovascular disease.  Adequate levels of IGF-1 are crucial for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, it also necessary for the uptake of amino acids in the intestines.  Low levels of IGF-1 has a high association with abdominal obesity and an accumulation of evidence is shows increasing IGF-1 is crucial in maintaining metabolic health and normal immune function.

6 WAYS TO INCREASE GROWTH HORMONE AND IGF-1 FOR HEALTHIER HAIR

Levels growth hormone and IGF-1 are sensitive to many external influences.  To improve your potential for increased growth hormone levels and IGF-1 for healthier hair there are a number of lifestyle improvements that will help:

Get a blood test – Check if you may have an iron deficiency, low B12 or low levels of vitamin D.  Look at haemoglobin levels, folate and check your thyroid function.  Even if your blood test is ‘normal’ get it looked over by a hair loss expert who can pinpoint inadequacies in your nutritional profile.

Avoid refined foods that will spike your blood sugar – High levels of blood sugar will inhibit growth hormone.  Concentrate on high quality protein and whole grains for stable growth hormone levels..

Eat a high zinc diet or take a supplement – A high zinc diet or supplementing over 15 mg of zing per day supports growth hormone production.  Zinc lowers inflammation and indirectly increases vitamin D which prevent growth hormone inhibition.

Get pumped up – Exercise provides a strong physiological stimulus for the secretion of growth hormone.  Cardiovascular and strength exercises both acutely increase growth hormone secretion.

Sleep well and sleep deep – Growth hormone peaks when we sleep and getting an adequate amount of deep sleep is one of the best strategies for increasing growth hormone in the long term.

Supplement with sulphur – Low levels of sulphur containing amino acids (cysteine and methionine) inhibit growth hormone signalling.

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