DHT has been getting a lot of press lately, especially in relation to male health and it’s role in hair loss. Still, it’s not something most guys know a lot about. Or, if they know about it, they don’t know what they can do about it. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say, so knowing about what DHT actually is, how often you’re exposed to it and what it can do to your body is just as important as knowing what you can do to mitigate the effects.
What is DHT?
Simply put, DHT is a sex steroid. That means it is produced in the gonads and is an androgen hormone – one that affect the biological aspects of being male. Some of the biological markers of masculinity affected by DHT are voice depth, muscle mass and body hair.
DHT is produced when testosterone is converted by certain enzymes. Typically, around 5% of free testosterone is converted into DHT. It also attaches more easily to testosterone receptors and remains bound to those receptors for a longer amount of time. As a result, DHT is more potent than the testosterone from which it is made – roughly five times as potent.
Is DHT a Problem?
Since DHT is natural, you may think there’s nothing to worry about. But the truth is that too much DHT can lead to a variety of problems including male hair loss. Ironically, DHT is also linked to increased body hair, even when the hair on the scalp begins to thin. That’s because the role of DHT differs across the body. The full scale of the role DHT plays in hair growth remains something of a mystery but scientists have determined its levels and presence have a pronounced effect on hair follicle health.
Can DHT Levels Be Lowered?
There are a number of ways DHT can be lowered or blocked. Supplements are an extremely popular option. They can be bought over the counter and many of them use herbs, vitamins and food extracts to counteract DHT in a man’s body.
But not all supplements are created equal so there are people who’d rather go right to the source. In order to do that, you need to know about the actual herbs and foods that can affect DHT levels.
Foods to Block DHT
There are a number of different foods you can include in your diet which can help to keep your DHT levels in check. Choose the healthiest versions of each food so that it complements your overall diet. A healthy diet can improve everything from cognitive abilities to sexual stamina, so including whole versions of any food should always be a priority.
Eat Your Liver – Thoughts of a liver dinner aren’t usually seen as an attractive option, but iron rich foods have been shown to affect DHT levels and hair loss specifically. A Brazilian study published in 2010 found that protein and iron deficiencies were linked to hair loss in bariatric patients. Red meat – and especially liver – are mega-rich in both, making it the best natural source for food that fuels healthy hair.
Dark Leafy Greens – You can’t get all your iron and protein from meat, so give your intake a health boost with the greenest vegetables you can find. Kale and spinach both pack a wallop and are known as two of the healthiest greens you can choose. Toss them into your salad, blend them in your smoothie or even throw ‘em on your pizza.
Nuts – Nuts, and almonds in particular, are kind of a superfood. They are rich in essential fatty acids and proteins that are linked to everything from mood elevation to heart health. They’re also full of vitamin B6 which promotes healthy hair growth and vitamin E which stimulates blood flow.
Pumpkin Seeds – Seeds are another super group when it comes to foods that promote health. For DHT levels and hair loss, pumpkin seeds reign supreme. These little guys come packed with amino acids like cucurbitin and plant steroids such as delta-7-sterols which are known DHT-blockers.
DHT Blocking Herbs and Supplements
There are also a number of herbs you can include in your diet or through supplements. These herbs have been linked to improvement with hair loss problems and DHT levels.
Giant Dodder – This botanical herb was the focus of a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology back in 2008. There, researchers found it blocked the conversion of testosterone into DHT by reducing 5-alpha-reductase type II in skin cells.
Saw Palmetto – Saw Palmetto is a popular herb which has been the focus of many different studies (and was recently discovered to help detox from THC). One from 2010 found that even low concentrations of the herb inhibited 5-alpha-reductase type II similarly to Giant Dodder. The results seen with Saw Palmetto were similar to those seen with finasteride, a commonly used prescription drug used to reduce DHT conversion.
Green Tea – Is there anything green tea can’t do? People drink it boost energy, lose weight and, yes, block that pesky DHT. A team from Harvard Medical School published a report in the Journal of Nutrition on how green tea reduced both DHT and testosterone concentration in the blood.
These foods and herbs can give you a natural boost in blocking DHT and mitigating the damage high levels can do. As with anything, of course, it’s important to incorporate them wisely. That includes choosing whole foods, reputable herbal supplements and, of course, discussing any dietary changes with your doctor or a qualified nutritionist.