Blueberries, Free Radicals, Antioxidants and Hair Loss
My brother and I have a bet; he says that the antioxidant properties of Blueberries have been shown to slow hair loss, I say he’s crazy. Who’s right?
Could a Blueberry topical be on the way?
This is probably more of a business question, than a medical one. Would people buy a blueberry topical for hair loss? I suspect with good marketing, a well done informercial, and a bit of a larcenous tendency from the promoter, it might sell and work as well as many of the potions and lotions out there on the market today.
There are many berries and other foods that have antioxidant properties, but there is no proof to my knowledge that these antioxidant properties will help solve the hair loss problem. In fact, considering that hair loss is an affliction of young men (young men are impacted proportionally worse than older men), free radicals which build up in our body as we grow older, should be less of a problem for the young man. Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Once formed, these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction, like dominoes. It is believed that their chief danger comes from the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane. Cells may function poorly or die if this occurs. To prevent free radical damage the body has an internal defense system of antioxidants that clean up our waste as it builds.
Antioxidants are molecules which are believed to ‘safely’ interact with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction before vital molecules and/of cells are damaged. Although there are several enzyme systems within the body that scavenge free radicals, the principle micronutrient (vitamin) antioxidants are vitamin E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Additionally, selenium, a trace metal that is required for proper function of one of the body’s antioxidant enzyme systems, is sometimes included in this category. The body cannot manufacture these micronutrients so they must be supplied in the diet and good diets usually solve this problem.
Antioxidants are intimately involved in the prevention of cellular damage — the common pathway for cancer, aging, and a variety of diseases. The scientific community has begun to unveil some of the mysteries surrounding this topic, and the media has begun whetting our thirst for knowledge. Athletes have a keen interest because of health concerns and the prospect of enhanced performance and/or recovery from exercise. The 18 year old who loses his hair is not aging in the sense we think when we talk about a 90 year old. These young men are the least impacted by the toxic effect of free radicals.
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