The best vitamins for hair growth and preservation, as backed by research, plus four other nutrients.
Hair loss is the bane of both men and women. After all, a thick, lush, and full head of hair has long been considered a sign of health or beauty.
Hair loss can have many causes, including our genes, hormones and age, factors most of us don’t have any control over. Fortunately, it is also influenced by our lifestyle, and that’s something we do have control over.
Diet is the number lifestyle determinant of hair health. So, whether your hair is thinning or you simply want lusher, more vibrant hair, consuming the right nutrients and in the right amounts can boost your hair health and reduce the chance of hair loss.
In this article, we discuss the best vitamins for hair growth and preservation, as well four other nutrients that are just as important, if not more.
The Best Vitamins For Hair Growth
Fun fact: Hair loss is often the symptom of many nutritional deficiencies. That’s because, like the rest of your body, your hair needs a variety of nutrients to live, breathe, and grow.
The following are 5 of the best vitamins for hair growth, along with their best food sources.
1. Vitamin A
Did you know that aside from bone marrow, hair is the fastest growing tissue in the human body?
Vitamin A is needed by every cell in your body for growth, including those making up your hair. Moreover, it helps skin glands produce sebum, a substance that prevents hair breakage.
But while it’s important to get enough vitamin A, consuming too much can be dangerous. Several studies have suggested that excess vitamin A can actually lead to hair loss.
Best food sources: Cod liver oil, beef and lamb liver, mackerel, salmon, sweet potato, winter squash, kale (cooked), carrots (cooked), sweet red pepper (raw).
2. Vitamin B
Some dietitians espouse that biotin — a B-complex vitamin — is one of the most important, if not the most important, vitamins for hair growth. That’s because the B-complex vitamin strengthens protein structure in your hair, skin, and nails.
Biotin deficiency has been linked with hair loss in humans. But although the vitamin is used as an alternative hair-loss treatment, studies suggest that it works best on individuals who are deficient.
Other B-vitamins help regulate metabolism, maintain the central nervous system, and create red blood cells, which nourish the scalp and hair follicles with oxygen.
Best food sources of B vitamins: Dark leafy greens; vegetables, such as cauliflower, carrots; liver and other organ meats; eggs; nuts; soybeans; lentils.
3. Vitamin C
Although not a vitamin directly linked with hair growth, vitamin C plays an important role in hair health. It is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect hair against oxidative stress.
Your body also needs Vitamin C to help absorb iron, a mineral necessary for hair growth, as well as create collagen, a protein that serves as a building blocks of hair.
Best food sources: Red, green or yellow peppers; kale; kiwi; broccoli; brussels sprouts; lemons and oranges; papaya; strawberries.
4. Vitamin D
Not only is vitamin D essential for all bodily functions, but it is also one of the most important and best vitamins for hair growth. In fact, studies have linked low levels of Vitamin D to hair loss.
The nutrient stimulates hair follicles to grow, so your hair may be adversely affected when you don’t get enough of it.
Spending time in the sun is the most effective way to get vitamin D, but you can also obtain it from certain foods.
Best food sources: Fatty fish like salmon, herring, and sardines; cod liver oil; egg yolk; mushrooms.
5. Vitamin E
Like vitamin C, vitamin E is an antioxidant that can protect your cells from oxidative stress.
A 2019 review of a number of studies found that people suffering from alopecia areata had significantly lower levels of vitamin E than those without the condition. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that causes unpredictable hair loss.
In an earlier study, participants experiencing hair loss saw a 34.5% improvement in hair growth after taking vitamin E supplements for 8 months, compared to an improvement of just 0.1% increase for the placebo group.
Best food sources: Wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnut oil, Mamey Sapote, and peanuts.
Other Good Foods And Nutrients For Hair Growth
If you’re suffering from hair loss, taking certain vitamins for hair growth may help with the condition. However, we must note that vitamins cannot function without the presence of minerals.
That’s because minerals are your body’s basic building blocks for health and vitality. And when it comes to hair health, iron and zinc generally stand out as the most important.
Other important non-vitamin and non-mineral nutrients are protein and omega 3 fatty acids.
Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, a protein in our red blood cells that carries oxygen to our body’s tissues and organs. It is an essential mineral for hair growth and many other bodily functions.
Iron deficiency, which is more common in women than in men, is a major cause of hair loss. After all, without enough oxygen, hair suffocates and dies.
Best food sources: Shellfish, especially clams, oysters, and mussels; spinach; liver and other organ meats; legumes like beans and lentils; red meat; pumpkin seeds; and quinoa.
Zinc plays a key role in building healthy cells, regulating hormones, and aiding in the absorption of other nutrients.
Not only does it aid in hair tissue growth and repair, but it also helps maintain the oil glands sorrounding the follicles.
A 2019 Study found that zinc levels in men experiencing male pattern baldness are lower on average than those without the condition, while another study showed that taking zinc supplements reduces hair loss caused by zinc deficiency.
However, some reports indicate that taking too much zinc supplements can have the opposite effect and actually contribute to hair loss. Most of this risk can be avoided if you get your zinc from whole foods.
Best food sources: Meat; shellfish; seeds like hemp and pumpkin seeds; legumes such lentils and beans; nuts like peanuts, cashews, almonds, and pine nuts; dairy foods like cheese and milk.
Hair is mostly made of protein, so eating enough quality protein is important for hair growth and health.
Animal studies have shown that protein deficiency may impede hair growth and even cause hair loss.
Although protein deficiency is very rare in developed countries, it helps to make sure you’re getting enough from your diet.
Healthy protein sources: Seafood, white-meat poultry; milk, cheese, and yogurt; eggs; beans; pork tenderloin; soy; lean beef.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish oil, particularly the omega-3 acids it contains, is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties that help protect, nourish and open up hair follicles, triggering hair growth and promoting hair strength.
Also, since Omega-3 is a healthy fat, it prevents dry and flaky scalp by aiding in its lubrication.
A 2015 study found that women who took a fish oil supplement regularly experienced significantly increased hair growth and reduced hair loss.
Best food sources: Fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, herring and sardines; cod liver oil; oysters; flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
Causes of Hair Loss In Men And Women
No discussion of the best vitamins for hair growth would be complete without highlighting the causes of hair loss. The following 6 factors play the biggest role.
- Your Genes: This is the most common cause of hair loss, and the one you have the least control over. Both male-pattern baldness or female-pattern baldness are predominantly hereditary, and are as a part of you as the color of your eyes..
- Hormonal Changes: Changes in the hormones responsible for hair loss, specifically dihydrotestosterone (“DHT”), can cause permanent or temporary hair loss. DHT is thought to shrink hair follicles and increases as we age, while thyroid problems can impede the development of T3 and T4, hormones that help hair grow and keep it from falling out.
- Medical Conditions: There are a number of illnesses and medical conditions that cause hair loss, including alopecia areata, disorder that causes patchy hair loss; scalp infections such as ringworm; and trichotillomania, an irresistible urge to pull your hair.
- Life Stress: Moments of significant stress can push your hair follicles into a “resting” phase so that they no longer produce new hair. Over time, affected hairs may fall out more unexpectedly even if you’re just touching, washing, or combing your hair.
- Medications: Hair loss and thinnings can be a side effect of drugs and medical treatments, such those used for depressions, cancer, heart problems, and high blood pressure. With radiation therapy, hair may not regrow like it used to.
- Certain Hairstyles: Traction alopecia is a type of hair loss caused by excessive hair styling or hairstyles for men and women that involve the pulling of hair at the roots, such as braids, cornrows, dreadlocks, extensions, weaves, and pigtails. The heat and chemicals used can cause inflammation of hair follicles, leading to hair loss.
If your hair loss is due to a medical condition, stress, medication, and / or your hairstyling choices, addressing the underlying condition should be your top priority. Although taking vitamins for hair growth might possibly lessen the condition, it won’t necessarily treat it.
Do Hair Growth Supplements Really Work?
Does supplementing with vitamins for hair growth actually work? In general, yes. However, it’s not the best way to get your vitamins and nutrients.
Research shows that most of the vitamins and nutrients you get from the food you eat are far superior than those you get from a pill.
Even though the vitamins in supplements are often synthesized to have the same chemical composition as vitamins in whole food, your body can’t absorb and use them as effectively.
That’s because food is a complex source of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that all work together cohesively and inseparably to nourish the body. Vitamins, on the other hand, tend work in isolation.
Because vitamin supplements can’t replicate all of the nutrients and benefits of whole foods, they cannot replace a healthy diet.
So try to get all your necessary vitamins and nutrients from the food you eat before considering.taking supplements. Consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner if you need guidance.
Best Vitamins For Hair Growth: Takeaways
There are many causes of hair loss, and although you can’t change factors like age and genetics, diet is one area you have control over.
Eating a balanced diet with the right nutrients can help promote hair growth, especially if you’re experiencing hair loss due to poor nutrition,
We highlighted five of the best vitamins for hair growth, as well as five other nutrients that are essential for hair health. While it’s possible to obtain these vitamins and nutrients from supplements, it’s always best to get them from whole foods.
Moreover, the fact that dietary supplements aren’t regulated as strictly as drugs are means there are a lot of shoddy and even dangerous products out there. It’s important that you scan the ingredients carefully before buying and consuming them.
Always try to get all your key nutrients from the food you eat before considering taking supplements. And always talk to your doctor or healthcare provider before taking one to ensure it won’t conflict with any medications you’re taking.
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