Hair loss is becoming an increasingly common problem, mainly due to poor diet and stress. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 40% of women have visible hair loss by the time they are age 40. In men approximately 85% of have significantly thinning hair by age 50.1 If you’re reading this article you are probably wondering what vitamins are good for hair growth. Read on to learn more about vitamins for hair growth and thickness and how they work.
6 Vitamins to Help Hair Growth
Vitamin A is often overlooked as a vitamin for hair growth and thickness. It is more commonly associated with eye health. This fat-soluble vitamin is available in several forms, the most common being beta-carotene which is the form found in carrots. Because it is fat soluble, getting too much can be just as bad as getting too little. Vitamin A deficiency can cause blindness, dry skin, and frequent infections. Too much can cause skin changes and hair loss.
In therapeutic amounts, its antioxidant properties protect hair follicles from free radical damage.2 Vitamin A supplements can also prevent a dry and itchy scalp.3
In mouse studies, dietary vitamin A was found to activate hair follicle stem cells, which induced the hair cycle’s development and growth phase. However, while vitamin A deficiency has not been linked to hair loss, higher than normal levels of vitamin A may actually contribute to hair loss.11
If you want hair that looks healthy and shiny throughout the growth cycles, you’ll need plenty of vitamin C. It is often associated with citrus fruits and supporting a healthy immune system, but it also acts as one of the important vitamins to help hair growth. It has antioxidant properties that neutralize oxidative stress, preventing hair damage.
Vitamin C is utilized in the production of collagen which is a major structural protein of the skin. A deficiency of vitamin C can lead to weak skin that bruises easily and gums which bleed easily. This disease is called scurvy and infamously affected sailors that crossed the Atlantic to the New World with no access to citrus fruits.
Vitamin C also helps to produce red blood cells, which keeps hair follicles enriched with a healthy supply.4 This vitamin may also help with hair loss by stimulating the production of IGF-1 (human growth factor), which strengthens the hair follicle and produces cells that make keratin.5, 6 Keratin is essential for hair growth and re-growth.
In one study, cultured human hair follicles were treated with a derivative of ascorbic acid (an alternate name for vitamin C). Researchers then measured levels of IGF-1, hair shaft elongation, and proliferation of keratinocytes. Results showed a statistically significant increase in IGF-1 proteins following treatment with the ascorbic acid derivative. Results of the study also suggest that ascorbic acid promoted the proliferation of keratinocytes and supported hair follicle growth in human dermal papillae.12
While you can get it from dietary sources, vitamin D is naturally synthesized in the skin upon exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight. Vitamin D is important for helping communication between cells, assisting with the absorption of calcium and strengthening bones. Vitamin D is also one of the most important vitamins for hair growth and thickness. When it comes to your hair, vitamin D helps to maintain the balance of your hair-growth cycle, but if you have a vitamin D deficiency, your hair will look dull and may break easily or even fail to grow. Combined with other nutrients such as Vitamin C and biotin, vitamin D helps to strengthen the hair shaft to prevent breaking. Recent research shows that the vitamin may help create new hair follicles – the sheath of cells surrounding the root of a hair.7
While it’s best known for maintaining calcium levels, studies show that vitamin D is essential to hair health. A review of current scientific literature assessed the effects of vitamin D in alopecia areata, telogen effluvium, female pattern baldness, and other forms of non-scarring hair loss.
The majority of the studies in this analysis found that patients with varying forms of non-scarring alopecia also showed reduced levels of vitamin D. This suggests that vitamin D deficiency may play a role in the pathogenesis of certain forms of hair loss.
While further studies with larger groups is still necessary, this also suggests that vitamin D supplementation may help to support hair growth in patients with female pattern baldness, alopecia areata, and telogen effluvium.13
As one of the best vitamins for hair growth, vitamin E helps to maintain circulation and prevent a dry, itchy scalp. Because of its rich antioxidant properties, this vitamin can protect hair follicles and also repair damaged ones. It can also encourage, strong, healthy hair growth.
In one study, researchers looked at the effects of tocotrienols (chemicals belonging to the vitamin E family) on hair loss. A total of 21 subjects were randomly assigned to receive 100 milligrams of mixed tocotrienols in oral form every day, while 17 subjects were given an oral placebo capsule.
The researchers monitored the subjects for the number of hairs in a pre-determined area of the scalp and the weight of 20 strands of hair clippings before supplementation, four months into the study, and eight months into the study.
By the end of the study, researchers found that the subjects who had taken the tocotrienol showed a statistically significant increase in the number of hairs grown compared to the placebo group. The tocotrienol supplementation group showed a 34.5 percent increase in the number of hairs at the end of the study, while the placebo group actually showed a 0.1 percent decrease in hair numbers. There was no significant change in hair weight.
This suggests that tocotrienol supplementation may support hair growth. While the exact mechanism of action requires further research, the observed effect is suggested to come from the powerful antioxidant activity of the supplement, which may help reduce oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation in the scalp. These are both factors found to contribute to forms of hair loss.14
Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, can increase hair strength and may also reverse hair loss.8 Biotin helps thicken thin hair that affects the entire scalp.
In a meta-analysis, researchers aimed to review the existing literature on biotin and its effects on hair and nail growth. In 18 reports and clinical trials, researchers used biotin supplementation for poor nail and hair growth. Evidence in all studies shows clinical improvement after taking biotin. However, in all of these cases, biotin supplementation was used in subjects suffering from a deficiency or pathologies that included uncombable hair and brittle nail syndrome. While biotin may help for those suffering from these pathologies, studies on the effects of biotin on hair growth in healthy individuals are still necessary.15 Nevertheless, biotin is often recommended as the vitamin to take for hair loss.
Zinc is vital for healthy, young looking skin and prevents the scalp from becoming dry and flaky, resulting and dandruff. This mineral is beneficial for the immune system because it is involved in the replication of DNA and also plays a vital role in the division of cells.9 As a hair growth supplement, zinc sulfate may also help prevent hair loss.10
In one study, 312 patients diagnosed with alopecia areata, telogen effluvium, and male and female pattern baldness were evaluated for their zinc and copper levels, which were compared to the levels within a control group without hair loss. The study found that the mean serum zinc concentration was significantly lower in the hair loss group, while the serum copper concentration was not significantly different in either group. These results suggest that disturbances in zinc metabolism may play a key role in forms of hair loss.16
If some zinc is good for hair growth then what about high levels of zinc? One mouse study looked at the effects of high levels of orally administered zinc in water on hair follicle cycling, inhibition of chemotherapy-related hair loss, and modulation of hair regrowth patterns.
Results showed that while zinc could accelerate the regrowth of normally pigmented hair shafts, prolonged high doses of oral zinc could actual inhibit hair growth, suggesting that amount and duration of zinc administration play a large role in its effects on hair growth. Further studies are necessary to determine the mechanisms responsible.17
In conclusion, vitamins good for hair growth should contain Vitamin A, C, E, D, Biotin, and Zinc. If you purchased one of our hair vitamins, you can rest assured knowing that they’ve been formulated with the knowledge of which vitamins help hair grow!
Next article: How to Make Your Hair Growth Thicker and Faster