Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, is an androgen hormone that can damage your hair follicles and cause male pattern baldness.
If you’re losing your hair and starting to develop a receding hairline or bald patch, the culprit is likely a combination of your genetics and the effects of DHT on your hair.
Currently, the most effective way to prevent hair loss is by blocking DHT using finasteride — a prescription hair loss medication that’s approved by the FDA.
Some research also suggests that certain foods and supplements may be able to reduce your DHT levels.
While adding certain foods to your diet isn’t likely to be as effective as treating hair loss using medication, prioritizing DHT-blocking foods may enhance your efforts to reduce DHT and help you to keep as much of your hair as possible.
Below, we’ve listed six foods that may help to block DHT and slow down or stop the effects of male pattern baldness.
We’ve also explained how you can use science-based, proven treatments to protect your hair and promote regrowth in areas of your scalp with noticeable hair loss.
Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, is an androgen hormone that plays an important role in developing your male features, particularly before you’re born and during adolescence.
As an adult, DHT can bind to androgen receptors throughout your body, affecting things like the growth of your hair and the size of your prostate gland.
When DHT binds to receptors in your scalp, it can damage your hair follicles and cause them to stop producing new hairs.
Not everyone is equally affected by DHT. Research shows that men who are prone to hair loss tend to have higher levels of androgen receptor activity in their scalp, suggesting that they may be more sensitive to the effects of DHT.
Our guide to DHT and male hair loss goes into greater detail about how this process occurs, as well as the steps that you can take to stop it.
Although researchers haven’t yet found a direct, proven link between diet and DHT levels, some studies have shown that certain foods may have an effect on your production of DHT.
We’ve listed six of these foods below, along with the science behind each food’s potential effect on DHT levels and male pattern baldness.
Turmeric is a spice that’s made from the Curcuma longa plant. It’s a common ingredient in many curries and other recipes. It’s also a popular nutritional supplement.
Although there’s no evidence that turmeric directly prevents baldness in men, some early-stage studies have found that it may have effects against DHT.
For example, an animal study published in the journal Cancer Science found that daily use of a curcumin supplement reduced testosterone and DHT levels in the prostate tissue of mice.
Another study concluded that curcumin analogues (substances structural and functional similar to circumin) may inhibit DHT-induced androgen receptor activity in certain cells.
Because these studies weren’t conducted on humans, it’s important not to view their findings as conclusive proof that circumin blocks DHT.
Research shows that soy protein, which is found in soybeans and other soy products, may help to lower DHT levels in the body.
In a six-month study, men at high risk of prostate cancer — a disease that’s aggravated by DHT — were assigned to consume either soy protein isolate, alcohol-washed soy protein isolate or a milk-based protein isolate on a twice-daily basis.
After six months, the men who used the soy protein products showed a small decrease in DHT levels. In contrast, the men who used the milk-based protein isolate showed a small increase in DHT levels.
Despite the small drop in DHT levels, the men’s testosterone levels remained steady throughout the study period.
Other research has noted that soybean isoflavones are known to inhibit 5 alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT. However, this was an animal study, and it can’t be concluded that these same results would play out in humans.
Soy protein is available in powder form as a nutritional supplement. It’s also found in soybeans (including edamame), soy milk, tofu and other soy-based products.
Coconut oil is a popular ingredient that’s widely promoted as a natural treatment for various hair, skin and general health ailments.
Most content on coconut oil and hair focuses on its use as a topical treatment for preventing hair damage and stimulating hair growth.
However, there’s currently no evidence to show that coconut oil speeds up hair growth when it’s applied to your hair topically.
When it comes to DHT, a few small-scale studies have found that certain compounds in coconut oil may be effective at reducing its effects.
For example, one study found that coconut oil reduced prostate growth — an issue that’s usually caused by DHT — in rats. Another study found that lauric acid, a substance found in coconut oil, may — in concert with other components — have an effect on the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT.
It’s important to note that neither of these studies had human participants, meaning their results shouldn’t be viewed as authoritative proof that coconut oil inhibits DHT or prevents male pattern baldness.
Pumpkin is rich in nutrients, as are its seeds, which contain minerals such as zinc, magnesium and iron.
Some research has found that pumpkin seed oil, an oil that’s cold pressed from pumpkin seeds, may help to prevent hair loss and stimulate hair growth.
A study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that men with male pattern baldness who used a pumpkin seed oil supplement for 24 weeks experienced a 40 percent increase in mean hair count.
In comparison, men who used a non-therapeutic placebo only saw a 10 percent increase in hair count over the same period.
Other research has found that pumpkin seed oil may be a helpful complementary treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia, or prostate gland enlargement — an issue that’s typically linked to high DHT levels.
With this said, there’s currently no scientific research that shows a direct link between pumpkin seeds or pumpkin seed oil and lower DHT levels.
Green tea is a popular tea that’s rich in antioxidants and well known for its large range of health benefits.
One of the most important compounds found in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, an antioxidant that’s linked to many of green tea’s positive effects on health.
Some scientific research has found that EGCG may help to reduce the effects of DHT on your hair follicles and prevent hair loss.
For example, a study published in the journal Annals of Dermatology found that EGCG protects human dermal papilla cells — cells found in human hair follicles — against DHT-induced cellular damage.
Another study found that EGCG promotes growth in human hair follicles. However, this was an “ex vivo” study, meaning it was carried out on extracted hair follicles in a lab setting, not a group of live participants.
While this research is interesting, there are currently no studies showing that drinking green tea directly reduces DHT or stimulates hair growth.
Foods that are rich in lycopene, such as tomatoes, carrots, guava, watermelon, pink grapefruit and others, may have an effect on DHT levels in the body.
In one study, researchers found that tomato and lycopene decreased the expression of several enzymes that are directly related to 5-alpha reductase — the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT.
However, this study looked at the effects of products containing lycopene on tissue from mice, not humans.
A systematic review published in the journal Nutrients, which also relied on animal study data, found a mixed relationship between lycopene and DHT, noting that although lycopene inhibits some forms of DHT-induced growth, it doesn’t appear to lower DHT levels.
All in all, more research is needed to know whether tomatoes and other foods rich in lycopene are effective at blocking DHT and preventing hair loss.
While some foods and nutritional supplements may help to block DHT, the science behind them isn’t very solid right now.
However, several science-based medications are available that can treat and prevent hair loss, either by blocking DHT or by stimulating hair growth directly.
If you’re starting to notice the early signs of balding and want to take action, these medications are a safer bet than changes to your diet alone. Your options include:
Unlike finasteride, minoxidil doesn’t block DHT. Instead, it works by moving your hairs into the anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth cycle and by increasing the level of blood flow to your scalp.
We offer minoxidil online. We also offer a combination of finasteride, minoxidil and other hair loss treatments in our custom Hair Power Pack.
Making certain lifestyle changes to improve hair growth, such as using a hair loss shampoo and avoiding harmful hair care products, may also help to improve your results from medications like finasteride and minoxidil.
At the moment, there isn’t any conclusive research showing that changing your diet can reduce your DHT levels and prevent male pattern baldness.
However, some foods and ingredients do appear to have mild effects on your body’s production of DHT.
If you’re beginning to lose your hair, combining these foods with science-based, proven hair loss treatments like finasteride and minoxidil might enhance your results and stop your hair loss from worsening.
Our guide to male pattern baldness provides more information on how hair loss occurs, as well as the most effective options for slowing down, stopping and reversing its effects on your hair.