Vitamins are essential micronutrients that our bodies need to develop and function normally. While they are often associated with their ability to boost immunity, fight disease, improve mood, maintain muscle strength, and enhance mental health, vitamins can also promote the health and well-being of your hair. In this article, we’ll explore the best hair vitamins to help you grow strong and healthy hair.
We’ll also look at the various food sources to focus on to ensure you get enough of these vitamins in their natural form. This also means you’ll receive additional nutrients in these foods, including minerals, antioxidants, and even fiber. Together, these can boost not just the hair but also your overall health and well-being.
Best Hair vitamins and their Food Sources
1. Vitamin C
Besides boosting your iron absorption, vitamin C can promote strong and healthy hair.
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals responsible for causing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can cause cell damage, including cell mutations that often lead to chronic conditions, including cancer.
The same applies to your hair. Vitamin C can help get rid of impurities and protect from free radicals from the sun or environment that can cause hair damage.
With enough vitamin C (antioxidants) in your body, your hair and scalp can fight off dandruff, prevent premature hair greying and loss, and split ends.
Additionally, due to its multiple hydroxyl groups, vitamin C also locks in moisture in the hair, keeping it hydrated.
The vitamin also boosts the production of collagen. Collagen is the main component in the dermis and plays a vital role in the connective tissue layer that harbors hair follicles. Collagen repairs the dermis and skin on the scalp (the base of the hair follicles). Since this allows the scalp to get enough nutrients, it can foster quick hair growth.
You can get vitamin C from readily accessible fruits and vegetables, including:
- Leafy greens
2. Biotin (Vitamin H or B7)
Commonly known as biotin, vitamin H or B7 is another important nutrient for healthy hair growth. It is part of the B complex vitamins group that helps in the metabolism of proteins and fats.
The vitamin stimulates the production of keratin which enhances follicle growth. It also boosts shine, volume, and scalp coverage since it prevents thinning.
Thinning makes the hair follicles smaller, which means they cannot support the growth of hair well. In extreme cases, the hair becomes shorter and may even fall off.
Taking biotin-rich foods can strengthen your follicles, making your hair less prone to shading.
Additionally, biotin helps create red blood cells, which are vital in transporting oxygen and nutrients to the scalp and hair follicles.
You can find biotin in:
- Nuts like almonds, pecans, walnuts, and peanuts
- Nut butters
- Whole grains and cereals
3. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a major body stimulator that prompts the production and function of white blood cells and regulates the growth and division of cells. This includes the skin cells forming hair follicles on the scalp.
The vitamin also aids the skin in the production of sebum. Sebum contains various lipids, including cholesterol, triglycerides, and fatty acids. These lubricate the hair follicles and massage the scalp’s surface hence locking in moisture. The result is healthy and well-moisturized hair.
Due to the lubrication of the follicles, the hair also finds a good environment to grow and thrive. Lack of sebum may lead to a dry scalp and hair that is brittle and prone to breakage.
To prevent these issues, include these vitamin A-rich foods in your diet.
- Sweet potato
- Pink grapefruit
Additional nutrients for Hair Health
Iron is a mineral that aids in producing red blood cells, which contain hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen around the body via the bloodstream to the required tissues and organs.
As such, iron promotes oxygen delivery to the hair follicles, fostering faster hair growth.
On the other hand, the lack of enough iron in the body affects the transportation of oxygen to the hair follicles. Without it, the cells that support healthy hair will lose their power to perform and may even cease to function optimally, causing weak and brittle hair.
This is why hair loss is greatly associated with iron deficiency, especially in women. Women are more likely to have iron deficiency than men because they lose blood during menstruation. Pregnancy and childbearing can also reduce iron levels in women, making them susceptible to thinning and breaking hair.
The good news is that you can easily reverse iron-deficiency hair loss by consuming iron-rich foods.
Best sources include
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dried figs
- Swiss chard
- Cooked spinach
- Black beans
- Hemp seed
- Cooked potato
To ensure you get enough iron from these foods, pair them with vitamin C-rich foods. Vitamin C boosts the absorption of iron in the body.
Zinc is an essential trace element required for a myriad of processes in the body. Since it is a trace element, it is only required in small amounts. You don’t need much in your system to realize the results.
The primary function of zinc is to produce DNA and RNA and support the immune system, but it can also encourage the growth of thicker, healthier, and fuller hair.
This mineral strengthens the protein structure of the hair follicles, which ensures that new hair strands maintain their strength and do not weaken or fall as they grow.
Zinc deficiency has been shown to cause hair thinning, leading to breakage and ultimate hair loss.
Best food sources of zinc include:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Chia seeds
Protein is essential for building tissue cells, including those that make up your hair. In fact, 80-85 percent of your hair is made up of a type of protein known as keratine.
So increasing dietary protein can provide enough protein for your hair to grow and maintain healthy and strong strands.
The best sources of protein to add to your diet include
- Green peas
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
Fatty acids like omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help protect the hair from damage while providing nourishment. They also promote strength and manageability of hair, shine, and the overall feel.
The best sources of fatty acids include:
- Olive oil
- Nuts like walnuts
- Seeds like chia, flax, pumpkin seeds, and hemp
- Seaweed and algae
Factors Affecting Hair Growth
There are many factors that determine how long and thick your hair grows. These include:
How your hair grows or looks can greatly depend on the kind of hair your mum or dad has. So even though you meet all the other requirements for achieving a particular hair, don’t be surprised to realize that nothing actually changes.
Studies suggest that genes play a role in influencing the various characteristics of hair, including thickness, fullness, and texture in different ethnic backgrounds.
Nonetheless, things like thinning and shading are pretty much under your control. Consuming the right foods that can provide nourishment while fighting free radicals can help keep your hair healthy and strengthened.
Childbirth comes with many changes, including hormonal changes that may affect the health of your hair.
Many moms notice hair loss in the first months after having a baby, and while it can be unsettling, it’s just for a short period, as this is not true hair loss.
The shedding is often caused by the reduced estrogen levels in the body.
After your hormones reset, the hair may begin to grow with even more vitality.
With that in mind, eating the various foods mentioned above can help you restore your hair in no time. Also, remember to choose organic hair care products such as shampoos and conditioners, as this can determine how fast or slow your hair can grow back.
We often associate stress with anxiety and depression, but did you know stress can also affect your hair? That’s right. Stress could cause stunted hair growth or hair loss. Here are three types of hair loss linked to high-stress levels.
This happens when medications, hormonal changes, or stress pushes the hair follicles into rest mode. You will notice huge chunks of hair falling off when combing or washing after months of going through a stressful situation.
The good news is that this condition doesn’t permanently damage the hair follicles. So expect your hair to grow back (usually within 3-6 months).
This is another common hair loss autoimmune condition that can occur as a result of chronic stress. Here the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles, causing inflammation and hair loss. Areata means patchy, so this condition presents with patchy baldness or hair loss.
Unfortunately, this condition cannot be cured. However, it can be treated, and without a trigger, you’ll be fine.
Medications used are the same as those used to treat other autoimmune conditions. They include corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory drugs.
After treatment, your hair will often grow back, but in case of any stressful trigger, the cycle can repeat itself.
This condition causes an urge to pull out hair from the scalp, face, and even legs. Research shows that this might be an unhealthy coping mechanism for dealing with uncomfortable emotions, tension, loneliness, frustration, stress, and depression.
Other characteristics include an intense feeling before the pulling or whenever you try to suppress the urge. This is often followed by a feeling of relief and satisfaction once you act on the impulse.
Dealing with stress is already daunting. It is even worse when hair begins to fall out. When it gets to this level, it is important that you visit your doctor. Besides recommending relaxation techniques for handling stress, they might also recommend medications and vitamin supplements to foster hair growth.
4. Thyroid Problems
Thyroid conditions are common in people with alopecia. An overactive thyroid or an underactive thyroid can both cause hair loss.
The thyroid is an endocrine gland that makes and releases important hormones that control how your body uses energy (metabolism).
The thyroid hormones also help in the development and maintenance of hair follicles. So too much (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism) of thyroid hormones can affect how your hair grows.
For instance, thyroid issues can affect ferritin levels in the blood. Ferritin is a protein and a form of stored iron that the body reaches out for when in need. Thyroid conditions can lower your ferritin levels, meaning less iron to make hemoglobin which carries oxygen to the hair follicles. This will lead to weakened hair and eventual hair loss. Supplementing iron can quickly bring things back to normal.
Additionally, the hormonal imbalance from thyroid hormone disruption causes growing hair to go into a resting and shading stage (telogen). If the thyroid issue is not resolved, your hair will stay in this stage for too long, causing more hair loss with less regrowth.
Apart from treating thyroid problems, you should boost your body with iron-rich foods, so the body gets enough ferritin.
As the body ages, the hair does not grow as quickly and thickly as it did in younger days. This is because some follicles cease to produce new hairs, leading to hair thinning and ultimate loss.
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Vitamins play an important role in maintaining healthy and strong hair. Some of the best-known and tested vitamins for hair include vitamins A and C and biotin. Other nutrients like zinc, iron, and protein can also help.
To benefit from these nutrients, ensure you include the food sources of these nutrients in your diet more often. They generally involve vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Besides the vitamins, you must also take care of your body, including avoiding stress or managing it effectively.
And if your hair problems are from underlying medical issues like thyroid problems, getting the necessary treatment will be your first step toward recovery.