Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist - Written by Mahek Chawla (Dietitian & Nutritionist) on 17th Sep 2020
Best Vitamins For Hair Growth & Thickness: Your Key To Healthier Hair
Here, there, everywhere! A universal sorrow without any proper solution, but millions of quicks fixes
Guess who? Yes, your hair.
Along with a plethora of conditions existing in the modern world, there is an inevitable quest to stop our hair from falling. From a teen to an adult, almost everyone has fussed about it at some point in their lives. For a majority of people, it is a daily woe they try to deal with.
Now that we live in an era of technology, we have access to the world on our tips, making it harder for us to absorb the information available.
Today as we discuss hair essentials, we’ll make sure you not only take away the necessary facts but be at peace knowing you are not alone!
A not so simple strand of protein, having the ability to frame your face and confidence, needs just a little TLC.
Each hair fiber consists of three layers: medulla, cortex, and cuticle (starting from the innermost to the outermost).
Keratin is the protein responsible for the formation of each hair strand.
Though each hair strand's structure and composition are the same for each individual, they vary in several aspects like the shape of the follicle, texture, color, strength, type, etc.
What goes inside and is present already affects the quality and type of hair, which is why, just like skin, hair care should also be specific to its kind.
Despite the anatomy of hair, the physiology responsible for hair growth is the same for all.
Unless, of course, you are genetically blessed with luscious locks.
Now, let’s hop on to the talk of the day: vitamins associated with hair. We all know how vitamins have become the center of attention for our overall health. Why? Simply because they are an integral part of so many biochemical reactions inside.
No amount of external care will do some magic on your hair if you keep playing with physiology. Vitamins, thus, are essential.
However, vitamins alone will not work if you don’t have a balanced diet. And, so, you’d need a combination approach.
Listed below are the five most vital vitamins for hair growth and thickness that you can easily include in your diet without burning your pocket for consultation.
- Vitamin A: A fat-soluble vitamin responsible for healthy sebum production, vitamin A keeps your scalp moisturized. Dryness, itchiness, or even scaly scalp can occur due to vitamin A deficiency. Too much or too little vitamins can pose a problem. So, it's advisable to have a controlled intake of these vitamins either through supplements or diet. The available form of vitamin A in food is B-carotene and is available in a variety of foods. This vitamin, thus, helps hair by retaining moisture and scalp health.
Food sources: Green leafy vegetables, carrots, pumpkins, yogurt, eggs, cod liver oil, etc.
Supplements: Vitamin A’s unit is IU. It is available in extremely low (7000 IU) to very high (1,00,000 IU) doses. However, the recommended dosage for all adults is 10,000 IU per month. For better supplementation, always add more nutrient foods and get your body’s vitamin profile checked.
- Vitamin B: A water-soluble vitamin having many different forms, vitamin B is responsible for all our energy needs. Our body cells thrive due to the presence of vitamin B. Amongst its different types, two that are highly effective in hair growth and thickness are biotin B7 and folate B9.
Although not much has been researched about biotin’s help in making hair healthy, many assume that it promotes hair strength. On the other hand, Folate has been proven to show increased growth, even in clinical trials for hair loss.
Both these vitamins are responsible for RBC production and its function. The higher the energy we consume or our body needs, the higher is the need for vitamin B. Folate has also been studied to show its role in DNA and other genetic material syntheses.
Food sources: Most of our daily consumed foods contain vitamin B, but specifically, Brussel sprouts, beans, spinach, egg yolk, cereals, wheat germ, pulses, sweet potatoes, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc. contain a fair amount of this excellent component.
Supplements: Combined tablets of all B vitamins are available over the counter and can be taken to treat severe vitamin B deficiency. Otherwise, a balanced diet is enough for it to function. Besides that, biotin tablets/capsules are also available and can be taken in doses of 10-30 microgram/day. Folic acid is recommended in combination with iron, an essential mineral for adolescent girls, lactating and pregnant women. The amount for the same is suggested according to your age and deficiency.
- Vitamin C: A water-soluble vitamin, vitamin C is excellent for all individuals, thanks to its many benefits. From improving skin and hair to fighting cold/cough, vitamin C is no less than a boon. It builds immunity to ward off infections by building up in the cells. Being an antioxidant, it damages the free radicals that cause oxidative stress. Along with this, some studies have also proven its effect on collagen production. This super nutrient is a must in every diet and shelf if the diet isn’t enough.
Food sources: Citrus fruits like lime, sweet lemon, oranges, strawberry, et al. Vegetables like broccoli, bell peppers, et al. Almost all berries are rich sources of vitamin C. Being water-soluble, it is easily absorbable from food.
Supplements: Most vitamin C tablets/capsules have it in the form of ascorbates. Some OTC tablets are available in combination with zinc to increase the vitamin’s absorptivity. The recommended dosage is 50-75 milligrams.
- Vitamin D: Another fat-soluble vitamin, this one is also called the sunshine vitamin. It’s essential for bone health, respiratory disorders, and hair/skin health. It is produced biologically in our body when the skin is exposed to the sun rays. The liver and kidney are responsible for its formation. Studies have shown how a deficiency of vitamin D can lead to alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes severe hair loss.
Food sources: Very few foods contain vitamin D, and its deficiency has become very common. Fortified grains, mushrooms, dairy, and fats contain a fair amount of this vitamin.
Supplements: Though there is RDA available for each age group for vitamin D, it is suggested to take D supplements via tablets or injections after testing blood levels as excess vitamin D can cause renal stones.
- Vitamin E: A fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamin E is an efficient antioxidant responsible for free radical destruction. Many people have been increasingly relying on it for hair growth and have seen visible changes. However, there’s a lack of research to support it. It does have some evidence on locking the moisture in cells, though - providing healthy hydrated follicles for better hair growth.
Food sources: Nuts, avocados, vegetable oils, kale, spinach, almonds, etc.
Supplements: Vitamin E capsules are widely used for external use. For intake, the recommended dosage is 10-25 mg.
Good to know.
It is always suggested that supplements should be of good quality. Apart from being safe and affordable, they must be of high biological availability, i.e., high absorbance. Reason? There is no use of supplements unless the nutrients get absorbed well into your body. Also, gut health should be checked before you start any supplement, as that is where they get absorbed primarily.
With all of the facts mentioned above, always remember no amount of potent supplements work unless you have a sound absorption system, a stress-free environment, an active body, and a cheerful mood.
We need to take supplements in this era, not because the industry manipulates us to buy these, but because the soil that our food grows in is depleted of its sources for certain essential nutrients. This is where technology and synthetic manufacturing of nutrients help us function well.
All the supplements mentioned above should be taken according to their food types, i.e., water-soluble or fat-soluble. That said, vitamin B COMPLEX and vitamin C is more efficient when taken along with water or juices pre-meal. Vitamins A, D, and E should be preferably taken with milk or fat and water emulsion, with meal or post-meal.
The absorption of each vitamin is increased in combination with essential minerals like iron, zinc, and magnesium.
Lastly, never consider popping a pill as the ultimate solution. A holistic approach can do better than you may think.
So, take good care of your body to have those voluminous and luscious locks you’ve always coveted.