Vitamins for Hair Growth: Do You Really Need Them?

Vitamins for Hair Growth: Do You Really Need Them?

Many people experience hair loss. Although more commonly it’s a result of genetics, age or hormones, it can also occur due to nutritional deficiencies. If that’s the case, vitamins for hair growth can help. Yet every day, you hear about a variety of vitamin supplements marketed for hair growth. The problem with them is that they market for any type of hair loss (not FDA-regulated).  

And those who fail to get a diagnosis for the underlying issue may end up wasting their resources. Still, that doesn’t mean that vitamins are not essential for the normal growth and development of your hair. In fact, there are many of them that you need to take on a daily basis, either through your diet or supplements. 

What Are the Best Vitamins for Hair Growth & Thickness?

The following vitamins help in the normal and healthy growth of your hair: 

Vitamin A 

The human body uses vitamin A for many functions, including maintaining healthy hair. Immune function is supported by it, and the skin is kept healthy. It plays a role in the production of sebum by the sebaceous glands, which helps keep the skin moisturised and lubricates the follicle. 

However, excess of it, just like anything else, is bad. In one case study, a patient getting long-term renal dialysis started experiencing increasing hair loss. It was found that they were taking a vitamin A supplement and their serum levels were well above normal (140 μg/dL when it should have been 20-80 μg/dL). The hair shedding stopped a month after the supplementation was stopped.

The American Academy of Dermatology (ADA) also warns about the excessive consumption of vitamin A as it can end up causing hair loss. According to the NHS, those between the ages of 19-64 should consume the following amount of vitamin A: 

  • Men – 700 micrograms/day 
  • Women – 600 micrograms/day 

Keep in mind that this amount can vary for pregnant and lactating women. This vitamin can be found in the following foods: 

  • Eggs 
  • Carrots 
  • Broccoli 
  • Spinach 
  • Milk
  • Cream cheese 
  • Mangoes 
  • Apricots 

Vitamin B 

Vitamin B serves different functions in the body. It ensures: 

  • Normal functioning of the nervous system
  • Releases energy from food 
  • Production of red blood cells (that carry oxygen to hair follicles for normal development)

Some sources of vitamin B include: 

  • Beans 
  • Leafy greens 
  • Fish 
  • Eggs 
  • Fruits
  • Nuts 
  • Milk 

There are different types of vitamin B that together perform these functions. For hair though, some are more important than others.

Vitamin B7 (Biotin)  

Biotin vitamins for hair growth are the most popular. And it’s considered good for the health of the skin and nails, along with the hair. However, it can only work for hair loss in the instance that the person is suffering from its deficiency. And since biotin deficiency is very rare in developed countries, it is not really needed. 

No research shows that it can help with telogen effluvium or androgenetic alopecia. Some rare genetic disorders can affect the metabolism and absorption of vitamin B7, in which case you might need to take supplements of it. 

While there is no evidence of biotin toxicity, it can be dangerous in that it can interfere with lab tests, which can result in a misdiagnosis. Therefore, if you are taking them, you should disclose them. According to the NHS, 0.9 mg/day of it does not cause any concerns. 

Vitamin B12 

Vitamin B12 also helps in the production of red blood cells and the normal functioning of the nervous system. In addition, it is important for DNA synthesis. A deficiency of this vitamin can cause hair loss. 2.4 micrograms per day is recommended for both males and females.

Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)

Involved in cell growth, folic acid plays a role in keeping the hair healthy. In addition, it helps in the formation of healthy red blood cells, which the hair needs to grow normally. The recommended daily intake of this vitamin is 400 micrograms. Since it can also prevent birth defects, pregnant women may need to take more. 

Vitamin C

There are many different ways in which vitamin C helps in the growth of healthy hair, such as:  

  • This antioxidant can protect the hair from free radical oxidative stress. 
  • It helps in the production of collagen, which keeps the skin of the scalp and the hair healthy. 
  • It absorbs iron from the intestine (preventing iron deficiency hair loss

Deficiency of this vitamin has been linked to loss of hair, along with changes in the skin. The NHS recommends 40 mg of it per day for people between the ages of 19 and 64. It can be found in: 

  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Strawberries
  • Guava
  • Kiwi 
  • Kale
  • Yellow peppers
  • Broccoli 

So, you can consume these foods to get vitamins for hair growth.

Vitamin D 

This vitamin helps in the absorption of calcium and magnesium and may be anti-inflammatory. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to hair loss, along with other health problems. 

Vitamin D is responsible for making keratin found in the hair. Low levels can affect the growth cycle and result in a type of hair loss known as telogen effluvium. It can occur weeks to months following the stressful event. A link has also been found between vitamin D deficiency and alopecia areata, which is an autoimmune disorder. 

Although its role in the growth of hair is not understood clearly, it is still considered one of the best vitamins for hair growth. You can get enough of it through sunlight and diet. 10 micrograms per day of it are recommended from the age of 1. It can be found in the following foods: 

  • Mushroom 
  • Fish (Salmon, mackerel, etc.) 
  • Fortified foods 
  • Egg yolk

Vitamin E 

Vitamin E for hair loss is also popular owing to its antioxidant properties. In one study published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, it was found that those suffering from alopecia areata had low levels of vitamin E. 

However, the ADA also warns that the excess of this vitamin can end up causing hair loss. 4 mg of it is recommended for men and 3 mg for women. Good sources of these vitamins needed for hair growth can be found in: 

  • Sunflower oil/sunflower seeds
  • Almond oil 
  • Wheat germ oil 
  • Avocado 
  • Mango 
  • Peanuts
  • Brazil nuts 
  • Spinach 

Do You Need to Take Vitamins for Hair Loss?

There is a percentage of the population in the developed world that suffers from nutritional deficiencies, one of which is vitamins. It’s true that hair loss can occur if a person is deficient in them, but since it is not the case for a lot of people, taking any kind of supplements that are marketed as “vitamins for hair loss” might not help. 

In fact, you might end up delaying the diagnosis of the actual problem. Without consultation with a doctor, you might also end up taking too much of it, which can also cause hair loss. Therefore, the best course of action here is to talk to a doctor first and get a diagnosis for your problem.

To find out if you truly have a vitamin deficiency, the doctor may perform blood tests along with a physical exam. The levels of thyroid hormones and other minerals are checked to see if they’re the source of the problem. A scalp biopsy may also be needed to find out the type of hair loss you’re suffering from. It’s imperative that you get the diagnosis first and then take any vitamins for hair growth. 

How to Best Take Care of Your Hair

You can consider doing the following as a part of your healthy hair routine: 

Eat A Balanced Diet – A diet rich in proteins, fruits, and vegetables can ensure that your hair keeps growing normally. The vitamins in them can fight off any inflammation and oxidative stress caused by free radicals. If you’re unable to meet the nutritional requirements, you can consider taking vitamins for hair growth (after consultation with a doctor). 

Keep Your Hair Clean – It’s important that you wash your hair regularly and keep the scalp clean to avoid any build-up or infection. The scalp health will ensure that of your hair. 

Have a Healthy Lifestyle – That should include getting a good night’s rest, exercising and managing stress. In addition, you should quit smoking as it can affect blood flow to the hair follicles, weakening them.

Conclusion 

Undoubtedly, vitamins for hair growth play an important role.  Vitamin A, B, C, D, and E, among others, either directly or indirectly, ensure that the hair continues to grow normally. Research has shown that vitamin deficiencies can result in hair loss. That’s why it’s important that you get adequate amounts of them on a daily basis. 

However, before their consumption, you should consult a doctor. There are different types of hair loss, and vitamins cannot help with all of them. Androgenetic alopecia is one of the most common causes of hair loss, which finds its solution in either minoxidil/finasteride or hair transplant. You’re going to lose time in starting the proper treatment if you start taking vitamins for hair loss without getting a diagnosis for your problem. 

Reviewed and Approved by Dr. Hassan Soueid.

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