While products can help maintain healthy hair, the key growing healthy hair is to start from the inside with a diet containing the right nutrients. It’s important to note that, while taking supplements for growth has become popular among naturals, the best way to get essential nutrients for healthy growth is through food. So, what are some good vitamins for hair health and where can you find them?
The highest concentration of vitamin A is found in sweet potatoes; just one medium-sized baked sweet potato contains over 500% of your recommended daily value! Milk and eggs are also good sources of this vitamin.
While it is an essential vitamin for hair health, too much of it can lead to toxicity and actually result in the opposite effect – hair loss.
Overall, B-Complex Vitamins have many benefits for hair health as they can help strengthen and condition the hair.
You can find B-complex in whole grains, cauliflower, carrots, dark leafy greens, beef, beef liver, poultry, eggs, soybeans, nuts, avocados, and legumes like soy beans, kidney beans and lentils. Pomegranate, dates, watermelons, and some berries are also high in B-complex vitamins. If you’re into fish, salmon, trout, tuna and cod are some good options.
Biotin is a popular B-complex vitamin used for hair growth and is sometimes called Vitamin B7 or Vitamin H. Biotin is important for cell reproduction so it naturally promotes hair growth by renewing the hair follicles that are already growing.
Biotin deficiency can cause hair loss so supplements are often used in this case to help produce thicker, fuller hair. But reports have shown that it is very rare for an adult to be deficient in biotin since our bodies produce it naturally. So taking a biotin pill regularly doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll see rapid growth if your body is producing enough of it. When too much is ingested, it can cause skin problems and the release of insulin. If needed, the recommended dosage for adults is 30 micrograms per day.
You’ll find biotin in foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, nuts (especially peanuts, pecans, walnuts and almonds), soybeans, fish and egg yolks. For those who are lacking, taking in increased amounts of biotin through foods or taking a biotin supplement can result in healthier hair.
Vitamin C is important for the production of collagen which makes up about one-third of your body, including your skin, ligaments and hair. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, helping to protect the body tissues from the damage that free radicals can cause, namely making hair brittle and weak. A deficiency in Vitamin C can lead to hair loss or excessive hair shedding as well as dry and splitting hair.
Regular Vitamin C intake is essential since it is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning the body does not store it. Foods that are rich in Vitamin C include, of course, citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, grapefruit), spinach, blueberries, kiwi, tomatoes, mango, strawberries, pineapples, green peppers and winter squash.
There are studies that suggest that this vitamin can help create new hair follicles. Vitamin D may also help stimulate follicles that have become dormant.
To include a good amount of Vitamin D in your diet, eating fish (salmon, swordfish), mushroom, grains, and drinking some fortified orange juice and low-fat fortified milk can help. Taking a walk on a sunny day is a natural and fun way to help your body produce Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is fat-soluble so, if you choose to take a supplement, be sure to take it with a meal that has fat so it can be absorbed. If you take too much, it can build up in fat tissue at dangerous levels and lead to fatigue and kidney problems so be careful.
Vitamin E is effective in improving the blood circulation in your scalp. With improved circulation, the cells of your scalp and hair follicles get more oxygen and the nutrients needed for strong, healthy hair growth and reduced hair loss.
Vitamin E also contains strong antioxidant properties which, again, reduces the stress created by free radicals that damage the hair follicles and cause hair loss. Vitamin E helps create a healthy environment for hair to grow by destroying these free radicals.
The best way to get a sufficient amount of it is to eat Vitamin E-rich foods like avocado, plant oils (like olive oil or wheat germ), sunflower seeds, nuts and green leafy vegetables.
Hair can become dull, thin, and dry without iron but a supplement is only recommended if you have an iron deficiency- a doctor can check for that. Too much of it can cause free radical damage to the skin/scalp.
Foods rich in iron include liver, red meat, poultry, fortified cereals, peas, beans, leafy greens, seeds (pumpkin, sesame), dried fruit and eggs. In order for iron to be absorbed well and to avoid deficiency, eat along with a good source of vitamin C but avoid consuming with calcium-rich foods.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Although not to often talked about, the Omega-3s found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, help regulate oil or sebum production which helps keep your skin and scalp moist. This will prevent your hair from drying out and keep your scalp from flaking.
Check with your doctor first if you have a history of mood disorders, fish allergies, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
Things to Note About Supplements
How well a supplement will work for you is mainly dependent on what you eat and if you take them correctly. Listen when those pill bottles say, “take with food” or “take with a full glass of water”. The vitamins will only be absorbed into your body properly and most effective when in the presence of water (water-soluble vitamins like B and C) or fat from the foods you eat (fat-soluble vitamins like A, D and E).
Taking too many supplements in general can have adverse effects like hair loss. Therefore, it’s recommended that you not use supplements unless you have a deficiency in that vitamin. If your diet is less than perfect, taking supplements can pick up the slack to help you maximize your hair’s fastest growth potential. But keep in mind that they should never substitute for a healthy diet. Eating the right foods, doing your best to keep stress low and practicing proper hair care will help it grow at its best rate and maintain its health. Thinking about your overall health first will automatically lead to healthy hair!