5 Essential Vitamins for Hair Growth and Strength

5 Vitamins that Promote Hair Growth and Thickness

Hair loss will affect everyone at some point in their life. Hair is an essential part of self-perception and self-confidence, and it can be frustrating and depressing to lose hair. About 40% of men have noticeable hair loss by age 35, 65% by age 60, and 80% by age 80. Perhaps the worst part about hair loss is that it seems incurable, like a plague that strikes down all the hairs on one’s head. Thankfully, there are options, like vitamins for hair growth, that can minimise hair shedding, and even restore one’s precious hair.

Hair loss is normally caused by genetic, hormonal, and age-related factors, but nutritional deficiencies can add fuel to the fire, making hair loss a difficult to deal with. Many overlook the importance of a healthy diet, and many diseases and ailments are in one way or another connected to nutrition. Getting the proper balance of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients is vital for healthy hair. This guide to the top 5 vitamins for hair growth will uncover how each vitamin is involved in the complex process of the normal hair cycle.

Jump to:
Vitamin A
B vitamins
Vitamin C
Vitamin D
Vitamin E
Conclusion

Vitamin A

vitamin a hair growth

What is Vitamin A and why is it important?

Vitamin A refers to a group of fat-soluble vitamins that stimulate and support the immune system and vision. This group of vitamins is active in many biological processes. One of the most harmful mechanisms that damages hair is oxidative stress. Essentially, it’s when free radicals form in the body and cause damage to cells, tissues, and organs.

How does Vitamin A help hair growth?

Vitamin A has excellent antioxidant properties, making it one of the best vitamins for hair growth. It is always included in fortified skin care products because of its positive effect on skin. Vitamin A keeps skin clean, healthy, and supple. Skin on the scalp also has to be properly moisturized, and must have good blood circulation to properly function. This puts Vitamin A on the short list of essential vitamins for strong, full hair.

Studies have shown that the depletion of Vitamin A in the body causes oxidative stress and energy deprivation. The effect of oxidative stress on hair can be devastating. It leads to weakened hair follicles and hair shedding, and if there are vitamin deficiencies at a young age, one may start experiencing hair loss earlier in life.

What foods contain Vitamin A?

Good sources of Vitamin A can be found in many fruits, vegetables, and animal products. They include:

  • Meat, dairy, and eggs
    • Beef
    • Liver
    • Eggs
    • Fortified milk
  • Seafood
    • Shrimp
    • Fish
  • Fruits and vegetables
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Carrots
    • Pumpkins
    • Spinach
    • Kale
    • Mangoes

What’s the recommended dosage/requirements?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults is as follows (in micrograms):

  • 900 mcg daily (3,000 IU) for men
  • 700 mcg daily (2,300 IU) for women
  • 770 mcg daily (2,600 IU) for pregnant women 19 years old and older
  • and 1,300 mcg daily (4,300 IU) for lactating women 19 years old and older

Another important thing to note is that unlike some vitamins, like Biotin, that can be taken in very large amounts, Vitamin A can cause severe side effects if taken at toxic dosages. These side effects include hair loss, so there is a risk of doing more harm than good when buying and taking natural vitamin pills exceeding the daily recommended amount.

B Vitamins

b vitamins hair growth

What are B Vitamins and why are they important?

The B vitamin family includes several specific hair growth vitamins, and in general, all B vitamins are involved in cell metabolism. The B vitamin complex is a powerful army of 8 main essential vitamins.

Vitamin B Number

Name

Vitamin B1

thiamine

Vitamin B2

riboflavin

Vitamin B3

niacin (nicotinic acid), nicotinamide riboside

Vitamin B5

pantothenic acid

Vitamin B6

pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine

Vitamin B7

biotin

Vitamin B9

folate

Vitamin B12

various cobalamins; commonly cyanocobalamin or methylcobalamin in vitamin supplements

How do B Vitamins help hair growth?

The two most important hair growth vitamins in the B family are biotin and niacin. Biotin, also known as vitamin H (the H stands for Haar und Haut, German words for "hair and skin”). Biotin plays a key role in protein synthesis. Keratin happens to be one of the vital proteins for strong, thick hair, as it is what gives hair structure and strength. Biotin is included in all hair, skin, and nails supplements, even though clinical evidence has not proven that it is as effective as companies say.

recent study included women who sought help for hair loss. According to the study, 38% of the women had biotin values consistent with biotin deficiency (<100 ng/L). So even though science is not quite up to speed with biotin, it is clear from studies like this that biotin plays a vital role in hair loss. Because few of us eat a balanced, healthy diet, supplementing with a B vitamin complex makes sense.

Niacin encompasses the B3 vitamin complex, which includes nicotinic acid and nicotinamide. Niacin is involved in various physiological processes, including fat metabolism. Niacin is also involved in hair and skin health. It stimulates blood flow to the scalp, improves the barrier properties of skin, and aids in the removal of waste products from the skin. If one has hair growing slowly or coming in thin, taking niacin should be part of everybody’s daily regimen.

Apart from oral supplementation, recent evidence has shed light on niacin as a topical solution for treating hair loss. It demonstrated a significant increase in hair fullness, showing that long-term topical niacin application can promote hair growth for women experiencing hair loss. 

Which foods contain B Vitamins?

There are many foods that are rich in B Vitamins. They include

  • Meat, dairy, and eggs
    • Beef
    • Poultry
    • Eggs
    • Fortified milk
    • Yogurt
    • Cheese
  • Seafood
    • Fish
  • Fruits, vegetables, legumes
    • Bananas
    • Potatoes
    • Broccoli
    • Avocados
    • Spinach
    • Soybeans
    • Black-eyed peas
    • Chickpeas
  • Grains
    • Cereals
    • Whole and enriched grains

What are the recommended dosage/requirements?

Since the B Vitamins include so many important compounds and functions, we will focus on the top-2. Over the years, researchers and nutrition specialists have looked into setting not the minimum requirements for biotin, but the maximum dosage. It seems that biotin has little side effects even when dosed over thousands of times. The actual effect of this mega-dose is debatable, so it may just be money down the toilet (literally).

The daily requirements for biotin are as follows:

  • 30 mcg for men, women (including pregnant women) 19 years old and older
  • 35 mcg for lactating women 19 years old and older

The daily requirements for niacin are as follows:

  • 16 mg for men
  • 14 mg for women
  • 18 mg during pregnancy
  • 17 mg during lactation

Vitamin C

vitamin c hair growth

What is Vitamin C and why is it important?

Vitamin C is perhaps the most well-known vitamin that promotes hair growth and strength. Most people associate it with citrus fruits and pirates. The latter often suffered from a disease called Scurvy, a severe form of Vitamin C deficiency. Once modern doctors and scientists found the reason sailors and other people had bleeding gums, and sometimes even bleeding skin, they were able to stop the disease in its tracks. Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant, and helps the immune system fight off infections.

How does Vitamin C help hair growth?

Vitamin C has vital anti-oxidant properties which already make it a strong part of the essential hair growth vitamins. It neutralizes free radicals, highly reactive molecules, that can directly damage lipids, proteins, and DNA. Vitamin C is involved in many biological processes including collagen synthesis. This is important as collagen is included in many different tissues, such as skin, hair, and blood vessels.

Vitamin C deficiency affects the actual creation of the hair shaft, influencing shaft strength and thus has been cited as an indirect cause of telogen effluvium (hair loss during the resting phase of the hair follicle).

Which foods contain Vitamin C?

Everybody knows that citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C, but there are more foods that you should be eating to get the required daily dose of Vitamin C:

  • Fruits and vegetables
    • Citrus fruits
    • Strawberries
    • Tomatoes
    • Potatoes
    • Broccoli
    • Peppers
    • Spinach

What are the recommended dosage/requirements?

Vitamin C is one of the essential vitamins for hair growth. To keep hair looking sleek, shiny, and strong, include foods high in Vitamin C. The daily requirements are as follows:

  • 90 mg for men
  • 75 mg for women
  • 80 mg for pregnant teens
  • 85 mg for pregnant women
  • 115 mg for breastfeeding teens
  • 120 mg for breastfeeding women

Vitamin D

vitamin d hair growth

What is Vitamin D and why is it important?

The Vitamin D family includes several key vitamins that most notably are involved in calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus absorption. Humans get their daily dose of Vitamin D through foods and sunshine. This is because Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin. Don’t worry, it’s impossible to get too much Vitamin D, as overdoses are mitigated by a natural equilibrium in the body. Vitamin D promotes the normal function of the immune system, normal inflammatory response, and muscle function.  

How does Vitamin D help hair growth?

Vitamin D plays several key roles in hair and skin maintenance. Vitamin D deficiency has also been directly associated with hair loss. The human body has Vitamin D receptors (VDR) in skin, which have been shown in studies to play a key role in hair follicle maintenance. This is why Vitamin D makes the top-5 of the best vitamins for hair growth. Changes induced by the activation and expression of VDR are thought to promote the natural progression of the hair cycle for faster hair growth. Specifically, Vitamin D stimulates and regulates keratinocytes, the cells that make keratin. Vitamin D has shown promise as a topical solution for alopecia in studies done on animals. Although attempts were made to recreate this hair regrowth in humans, there is not enough evidence available to recommend it in topical form.

study done by Egyptian scientists investigating serum ferritin and Vitamin D found a link between low levels of Vitamin D and hair loss in females. The authors even proposed that testing Vitamin D levels as a screening tool could be beneficial in the treatment of hair loss and thin hair.

Which foods contain Vitamin D?

  • Dairy and eggs
    • Fortified milk
    • Cheese
    • Eggs
  • Seafood
    • Fatty fish
  • Grains
    • Cereals
    • Whole and enriched grains

What are the recommended dosage/requirements?

Vitamin D is one of few vitamins to get revamped dosage recommendations. Before, the daily requirements were deemed higher for pregnant and lactating women, but now there is a unified golden number - 600 IU. The new numbers are as follows:

  • 15 mcg for all men, women (pregnant or lactating) <70 years of age
  • 20 mcg for men and women >70 years of age

Vitamin E

vitamin e hair growth

What is Vitamin E and why is it important?

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin made up of several compounds and fractions. The most biologically active compound is alpha-tocopherol, a strong antioxidant that protects cell membranes from free radical damage. The human body also requires Vitamin E to keep the immune system strong and act against foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. Vitamin E works in a synergy with Vitamin K to make red blood cells, and keep them from clotting inside blood vessels.

How does Vitamin E help hair growth?

The main benefits of Vitamin E on hair growth and beauty are ingrained in its potent antioxidant properties. As already mentioned, oxidative stress lies at the core of hair loss risk factors. This is important because there is evidence that oxidative stress contributes to hair greying and hair loss.

Which foods contain Vitamin E?

  • Dairy and eggs
    • Fortified milk
    • Cheese
    • Eggs
  • Vegetables
    • Leafy greens
    • Spinach
    • Avocados
  • Nuts and seeds
    • Almonds
    • Sunflower seeds
  • Grains
    • Whole grains

What are the recommended dosage/requirements?

The daily recommendations for Vitamin E are as follows:

  • 15 mg for men, women (including pregnant women)
  • 19 mg for lactating women

 

Conclusion

Hair loss and thinning are a major problem, and a major headache for millions around the world. About 60% of hair loss sufferers would rather have more hair than money or friends. This goes to show that identifying deficiencies is unavoidable when seeking a complex hair loss regimen. Only by getting the right balance of nutrients, knowing what vitamins are good for healthy locks, and implementing lifestyle changes, can one attain hair goals and improve self-confidence. 

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