By Paul Taylor
Increased brown fat
levels in the scalp might encourage healthy hair growth, and a lack of it might be linked
to hair loss.
Many factors can affect hair loss development. This article explains how brown scalp fat (subcutaneous fat) could be an important area of research in our quest to fully understand the hair loss process.
Brown fat (brown adipose tissue) is found deep down in the subcutaneous layer of the skin. It's often referred to as "baby fat" too because it comprises as much as 5% of the body weight in a newborn baby.
Brown adipose tissue levels decrease with age. But it's now known to be still present in adults. It's most abundant in younger women and much less so in older, overweight men (1).
So, basically this means that most men lack brown fat and do suffer
hair loss (androgenetic alopecia), whereas most women and children have higher brown fat levels and don't suffer hair loss.
I do not believe this is simply a coincidence.
Research has shown that the follicles of vigorously growing scalp hair are embedded in a thick layer of adipose tissue, but there's a lack of adipose tissue around dormant follicles. So this suggests that adipose tissue serves a supportive role for hair follicles and hair growth (2).
It's been observed that, in cases of androgenetic alopecia, the bald areas are mostly depleted of fat tissue whereas, in the
lower rear (occipital) region where hair loss does not occur, a thick
layer of fat tissue is present.
I believe this type of hair loss develops due to skull bone growth (skull expansion), which progressively constricts the blood vessels of the scalp and reduces the blood supply required by the follicles to grow hair.
So it may well be that brown fat offers some resistance against this process.
And I believe there are two possible reasons for this:
1. Angiogenesis (vascularization).
2. Cushioning effect against the skull expansion process.
Brown fat encourages angiogenesis (new blood vessel formation) (3)(4).
And that's important because hair undergoes a growth cycle. During the growing phase of this cycle, follicles continuously try to grow deep down into the dermis of the skin where they can receive an abundant supply of blood.
However, in those who suffer hair loss, this process is hindered by skull expansion.
So, if brown fat levels can be increased, this might create new blood vessels and allow healthy hair to start growing again.
Given that a layer of brown adipose tissue will increase the
thickness of the dermis, it may provide a cushioning effect that can
reduce blood vessel constriction and increase scalp flexibility.
The omega 3 fish oils, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acids) along with other nutrients (capsaicin, resveratrol, curcumin, green tea, etc.) have been associated with BAT activity (5).
So it may well be that, by consuming certain foods, such as a very high omega 3 diet, you can do something to help your hair grow.
Perhaps the best evidence for this idea comes from the Inuit people (Eskimos) who consume extremely high levels of omega 3 fish oils from their diet, and have a very low incidence of androgenetic alopecia.
You might be able to increase your levels of brown adipose tissue from omega 3 fish oil supplements containing EPA and DHA. Otherwise, omega 3 can be obtained from eating oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, etc.
Vegetarian sources of omega 3 can be obtained from walnuts, pumpkin seeds, linseed (flax), etc.
sources of omega 3 have to be converted to EPA and DHA by the body.
However, there is uncertainty as to how much omega 3 will get converted into BAT and then find it's way into your scalp.
So whilst diet might improve the growth of your hair, it's
sensible to try a number of ideas in your battle against baldness: the
hands-on techniques I successfully used to stimulate my own hair regrowth are now helping many
others to do the same: read reviews.
(1) Identification and Importance of Brown Adipose Tissue in Adult Humans. Cypess AM, Lehman S, et al. N Engl J Med. 2009 Apr 9; 360(15): 1509–1517. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2859951/
(2) A review of adipocyte lineage cells and dermal papilla cells in hair follicle regeneration. Zhang P, Kling RE. J Tissue Eng. 2014 Jan-Dec; 5: 2041731414556850. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4221925/
(3) Adrenergic activation of vascular endothelial growth factor mRNA expression in rat brown adipose tissue: implication in cold-induced angiogenesis. Asano A, Morimatsu M, et al. Biochem J. 1997 Nov 15;328 ( Pt 1):179-83. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9359850
Angiogenesis in an in vivo model of adipose tissue development. Neels
JG, Thinnes T, et al. FASEB J. 2004 Jun;18(9):983-5. Epub 2004 Apr 14.
(5) Food Ingredients Involved in White-to-Brown Adipose Tissue Conversion and in Calorie Burning. El Hadi H, Di Vincenzo A. Front Physiol. 2018; 9: 1954. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6336830/
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