Many people see healthy-looking hair as a sign of overall health and beauty. Like any other part of the body, hair needs a variety of nutrients to be healthy and grow properly and meet your beauty standards. Many nutritional deficiencies, in fact, cause hair loss or an unhealthy and brittle appearance.
While factors such as age, genetics, and hormones affect hair growth, optimal intake of hair nutrients is key to taking action.
The 5 vitamins and 3 other hair nutrients to look for in dietary supplements
All cells need vitamin A for growth. This includes hair, the fastest growing tissue in the human body. Vitamin A also helps the skin’s glands produce an oily substance called sebum which hydrates the scalp and helps keep hair healthy.
Diets deficient in vitamin A can lead to several problems, including hair loss
While it is essential to get enough vitamin A, don’t overdo it. Studies show that too much vitamin A can also make the situation worse. Sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, spinach, and kale are all high in beta-carotene, converted into vitamin A. Vitamin A is also found in animal products such as milk, eggs, and yoghurt. Cod liver oil is a particularly good source.
Vitamins of the B group
One of the best-known vitamins for hair growth is a B vitamin called biotin. Studies link biotin deficiency with hair loss in humans. Although biotin is used as an alternative hair loss treatment, those deficient in it have the best results. However, the deficiency is very rare because this substance is taken naturally in a wide range of foods. There is also a lack of data on whether biotin is effective for hair growth in healthy individuals. Other B vitamins help create red blood cells, which carry oxygen and nutrients to the scalp and hair follicles. These processes are important for hair growth.
We get B vitamins from many foods, including:
- Whole grains
- Dark green leaf vegetables
Additionally, foods of animal origin are the only good sources of vitamin B12. So, if you are following a vegetarian or vegan diet, consider taking a suitable dietary supplement.
Free radical damage can block the growth and cause hair to age. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect against oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
Additionally, your body needs vitamin C to make a protein known as collagen, an important part of the hair structure. Vitamin C also helps your body absorb iron, a mineral necessary for hair growth. Strawberries, peppers, guavas, and citrus fruits are all good sources of vitamin C.
Low vitamin D levels are linked to phenomena such as alopecia.
Vitamin D is thought to play a role in hair production, but most research focuses on vitamin D receptors. The actual role of vitamin D in hair growth is unknown. That said, most people don’t get enough vitamin D. It might still be a good idea to increase your intake.
Your body produces vitamin D through direct contact with the sun’s rays. Good food sources of vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish
- Cod liver oil
- Some mushrooms
- Fortified foods
Similar to vitamin C, vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help prevent oxidative stress. According to one study, people with hair loss experienced a 34.5% increase in hair growth after supplementing with vitamin E for 8 months.
Sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach and avocado are all good sources of vitamin E.
Iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen to cells. This makes it an important mineral for many bodily functions, including hair growth. Iron deficiency, which causes anemia, is a major cause of hair loss. It is especially common in women. Foods rich in iron include clams, oysters, eggs, red meat, spinach, and lentils.
Zinc plays an important role in the growth and repair of hair tissue. It also helps maintain the proper functioning of the sebaceous glands around the follicles.
Hair loss is a common symptom of zinc deficiency. Studies show that resolving zinc deficiency with supplementation can reduce deficiency-related hair loss. However, there are some anecdotal reports that supplementing with too high a dose can also contribute to hair loss.
For this reason, it may be best to get zinc from whole foods. Foods rich in zinc include oysters, beef, spinach, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, and lentils.
Hair is almost entirely made of protein. Consuming enough is important for hair growth. Animal studies show that protein deficiency can reduce hair growth and even lead to hair loss.
However, actual protein deficiency is extremely rare in Western countries.