Update 1/7/20. Nutrafol is one of the most popular hair growth supplements available. Nutrafol also has the added bonus of having a clinical study showing it works too. Viviscal is another very popular supplement for slowing hair loss and regrowing hair. It also has clinical research. So, how do you decide which hair growth supplement is best: Nutrafol or Viviscal? Or, are they both scams? In this review, I'll help you decide by comparing the ingredients and research on both supplements side by side. I'll also address other issues too. This review will cut through the hype and help you decide which supplement might be the best hair growth formula for you.
Nutrafol vs. Viviscal Ingredients
Here is a side-by-side comparison of the ingredients in both supplements:
|Nutrafol ingredients (4 capsules)||Viviscal Ingredients (1 tablet)|
|Vitamin A (Beta Carotene) 5000 IU||Vitamin C 59 mg|
|Vitamin C (Camu Camu) 100 mg||Niacin 12 mg|
|Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol) 2500 IU||Biotin 12 mg|
|Biotin 3000 mcg||Calcium 60 mg|
|Iodine (Kelp) 225 mcg||Iron 10 mg|
|Zinc 25 mg||Zinc 11 mg|
|Selenium 2000 mcg||Amino Mar Marine Complex 450 mg composed of the following:|
|Synergen Complex 1680 mg Composed of the following :||1. Shark Cartilage|
|Hydrolyzed Marine Collagen Type I & III||2. Oyster Extract Powder|
|Sensoril Ashwagandha Extract||Horsetail Extract 36.7 mg|
|USPlus Saw Palmetto CO2 Deep Extract||Millet Seed Extract 7.5 mg|
|EVNolMax Tocotrienol/Trcopherol Complex|
|Nutrafol Blend 480 mg Composed of the following:|
|Capsimax Capsicum extract|
If we look just at the ingredients, it might appear Nutrafol is better for reversing hair loss because it has more stuff. But, the number of ingredients is not always proof of which supplement is superior.
Let's next look at which ingredients they have in common.
Nutrafol/ Viviscal Common Ingredients
|Vitamin C 100 mg||Vitamin C 59 mg|
|Biotin 3000 mcg (3 mg)||Biotin 12 mg|
|Zinc 25 mg||Zinc 11 mg|
|Marine Collagen||Shark cartilage / Oyster powder|
|Horsetail (amount not known)||Horsetail 36.7 mg|
These are the ingredients both hair growth supplements have in common.
Nutrafol provides more than 2x as much zinc as Viviscal (25 mg vs. 11 mg). The RDA for zinc is only 11-13 mg. Does more zinc make it work better? I'm not sure whether higher levels of zinc help hair growth or lead to less hair loss.
I was intrigued both supplements contained substances from fish. Nutrafol contains marine collagen while Viviscal contains an Amino Mar complex made of shark cartilage and oyster powder. I believe the Amino Mar complex is very important to Viviscal results.
But, when I called Nutrafol customer support to ask about the marine collagen, I was told it was not the main ingredient. I was informed the key hair growth ingredient is saw palmetto. I was told the marine collagen is used to give hair volume and nourish hair follicles.
The marine collagen comes from North Atlantic Cod.
There is a clinical research study on Nutrafol. It lasted 6 months and involved 40 women (21-35) who were experiencing thinning hair. They were given either Nutrafol or a placebo and instructed to take 4 capsules of each per day with meals or just after eating.
The women who took Nutrafol showed significant improvements in both thick and thin hair after 3 months of use. The total number of hairs were increased also. These improvements continued during the 6 months of the study.
This investigation was conducted by 2 dermatologists – Dr. Glynis Ablon of Ablon Skin Institute and Research Center and Sophia Kogan, who is the chief medical officer at Nutrafol.
Viviscal has conducted several clinical studies on their hair growth supplement. The Viviscal research includes both clinical studies published in medical journals and non-published investigations. If we look at just the studies appearing in medical journals, then Viviscal has 3 investigations that say it works. Here they are:
Ironically, both the 2012 and 2015 Viviscal clinical trials were conducted by Dr. Glynis Ablon – the same dermatologist who performed the Nutrafol study summarized above.
If we look at just the hair loss research, then Viviscal wins. There are more clinical studies on Viviscal than Nutrafol. But, this doesn't mean Viviscal is better though; It may just mean it's been around longer.
See the Viviscal review for more information.
How Many Do You Take?
For optimal results, here are the directions on how much you take per day:
- Nutrafol: Take 4 capsules once per day with food for at least 3-6 months
- Viviscal: Take 1 tablet twice per day with water or food. Take for at least 3-6 months
How Do They Work?
Nutrafol is said to help hair growth by reducing inflammation, battling free radicals and blocking a hormone called DHT weakens hair follicles and promotes hair loss. The saw palmetto is the ingredient that blocks the DHT hormone.
Viviscal is said to work by providing nutrients to hair follicles to prolong the growing phase of the hair growth cycle, nourishing thinning hair and promote hair growth. Viviscal for women does not appear to block DHT although the men's version of Viviscal contains flaxseed. Flaxseed seems to block DHT by inhibiting an enzyme called 5α-reductase.
As an added bonus, flax-seeds can lower blood pressure too.
Nutrafol & Viviscal Customer Service
Viviscal customer service can be reached at 800- 473-0145. The company is called Church and Dwight. Between this review and my full review of Viviscal, I've called the company several times. It's VERY easy to speak to a human if you have questions.
Nutrafol customer service number is 888-454-3320. The company is called Nutraceutical Wellness, Inc. I called the company several times for this review and they were also easy to reach. Nutrafol.com also has the ability to talk to customer service reps via online chat too.
Buy Nutrafol And Viviscal
Nutrafol is only available at its website (Nutrafol.com) at various online retailers like Amazon.
Viviscal is widely available in stores and online. In addition to Viviscal.com, you can purchase this supplement at CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart, Target, Sam's Club, Costco, and Walgreens as well as Amazon.
How Much Do They Cost?
Nutrafol costs $88 if you purchase a single bottle. If you decide to join their subscription program, the cost is $79 per bottle. If you get a subscription to Nutrafol, you also get free shipping and 1-on-1 consultation with their hair experts and naturopaths.
After 3 months of the subscription, you also are entitled to a hair mineral analysis. While that's nice since you didn't get a hair mineral analysis before you started their program, I'm not sure what benefits this adds.
Viviscal costs less than Nutrafol. At Viviscal.com the price is $49.99 for a 1 month supply. Viviscal also has an auto-ship program where they will send you a 3 month supply for $39.99 per month.
No matter which supplement you purchase, it's probably going to take 3-6 months to see any hair growth.
How Much Do 6 Months Cost?
Since both supplements mention 3-6 months of use is needed before you might see results with hair growth, here is what the cost would be, if you took either for 6 months. In this example, I'll assume you purchase from their websites do not use their auto-ship programs:
- Nutrafol $88 / bottle X 6 months = $528
- Viviscal: $49.99/ box X 6 months = $300
What About Gray Hair?
Neither supplement is promoted to restore hair color. Both supplements are only marketed for helping hair loss, thinning hair and hair regrowth. For more on anti-gray supplements see these reviews:
Which Has Saw Palmetto?
Nutrafol has saw palmetto. Viviscal does not contain saw palmetto. The herbal ingredient saw palmetto is common in hair growth supplements because it blocks a hormone (5α-reductase) which converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is linked to hair loss because it weakens hair follicles. High levels of DHT can cause hair loss.
While some very popular websites –I'm looking at you webmd – discuss saw palmetto and birth control pills, the evidence is not based on human research.
I did a deep dive into the saw palmetto /birth control pill research and I could not find any proof of this herb causing a woman to get pregnant. So, if you are wondering if Nutrafol might cause pregnancies, I personalty, doubt it but to be safe, Nutrafol does not recommend using their supplement if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Nutrafol and Viviscal Side Effects
Both supplements are likely safe in healthy people. None of the studies on either Viviscal or Nutrafol report any serious side effects. Here are some general ideas about both worth considering. This list is not complete:
- Start with less than recommended for the first week. This is to see if you have any side effects.
- Ask your doctor first if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Stop taking at least 2 weeks before having surgery
- Talk to your doctor/pharmacists if you take any medications like blood thinners
- Talk to your doctor if you are allergic to shellfish
- If you are vegan, remember both supplements contain ingredients from fish
- Talk to your doctor if you have iron overload disease. Vitamin C may make your condition worse.
- Don't take close to bedtime. Horsetail contains a small amount of nicotine. This may keep you awake at night.
What's Better: Viviscal or Nutrafol
There are no clinical studies comparing Nutrafol to Viviscal to see which has better results for reversing hair loss or helping thinning hair. Since Dr. Glynis Ablon has published clinical studies on both supplements, I'd think this would be a no-brainer for her to do. Until she or someone else decides to address this, my best advice is to start with either supplement and take it for 3-6 months. If you don't notice a difference by then, switch to the other supplement and see if that works better. Because Viviscal has more studies showing it works – and costs less – it may be wise to start with that.
Remember, hair loss and regrowing hair is complicated. It's possible Nutrafol might work better for some and Viviscal for others. For what it's worth, I think your results with both supplements will be best when combined with Minoxidil.