Viviscal Hair Growth Supplement: Does the science support it?

Viviscal is an oral dietary supplement for hair growth that promotes an exclusive shark-derived compound called marine complex. AminoMar is Viviscal's registered name of this marine complex and includes horsetail extract and silica, which help facilitate uptake of protein molecules. Does the science demonstrate the efficacy of marine complex hair growth?

1. AminoMar: Yes, the reassuring thing about this hair growth supplement is that there are at least two clinical studies supporting regrowth of hair, decreased shedding, and hair thickening in men and women. However, the mechanism of action is unclear and it is difficult to discern the ingredient's biological target.

2. Biotin: OK, this water-soluble vitamin is essential for hair growth but as we have stated before, it does not alter hair cycles or halt hair loss if the loss is not associated with biotin deficiency. The makers of Viviscal safely and smartly have only a 120 micrograms of biotin (40% of recommended daily allowance) in their supplement and did not go overboard in applying an unnecessary amount of this vitamin in their formula.

3. Vitamin C: Yes, there is some evidence that antioxidant vitamin C ( L-ascorbic acid) can help promote growth of hair shafts and halt balding related to dihydrotestosterone in vitro. The fact that the vitamin C is taken from the acerola fruit is probably not of great significance. 

4. Iron: Yes, iron is essential for healthy growth of all human living tissue. Iron deficiency is one of the most common causes of acute hair losses ( telogen effluvium) and may  lead to chronically thinning hair if it is not available to the body for red blood cells and oxygenation. 

5. Other components: Yes, niacin, zinc, and calcium all play important roles in healthy hair, skin, and nails. 

In terms of SkinInvestments, Viviscal appears to have a scientific-based approach with published data to support positive clinical effects seen by the marine complex. A lot still has to be learned, however, about how it actually works.  It is still considered a non-drug product, however, and is not FDA-approved; however there has been no concerns reported regarding its safety. At $35 to $50 a month ($476 for a year at purchasing quarterly supplies) one should plan on taking the supplement for at least a good three to six month period before stopping it to determine if it is effective in hair regrowth, thickening, or minimizing shedding.


Ablon G. A 6-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the ability of a marinecomplex supplement to promote hair growth in men with thinning hair. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2016 Aug 9.

Kwack MH, et al. L-Ascorbic acid 2-phosphate promotes elongation of hair shafts via the secretion of insulin-like growth factor-1 from dermal papilla cells through phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase. Br J Dermatol. 2009 Jun;160(6):1157-62.

Kwack MH, et al. L-ascorbic acid 2-phosphate represses the dihydrotestosterone-induced dickkopf-1 expression in human balding dermal papilla cells. Exp Dermatol. 2010 Dec;19(12):1110-2. 

Rizer RL, et. al. A Marine Protein-based Dietary Supplement for Subclinical Hair Thinning/Loss: Results of a Multisite, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Clinical Trial. Int J Trichology. 2015 Oct-Dec;7(4):156-66.