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Do Hair Vitamins Actually Work?

Kristin Hall, FNP

Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 1/28/2021

If you experience thinning hair, hair loss, or would simply like to have fuller, healthier hair, you may be tempted to try out anything and five magic beans, to get your hair to a point that you’d like.

But while magical hair may be a little hard to achieve, there are hair products that promise almost miraculous results when it comes to hair growth, fullness, and health. Leading the pack of said products are hair vitamins and supplements.

But just what are hair vitamins? And will they really help to make your hair grow? We'll be answering these questions and examining just how effective hair vitamins are for hair health.

What Are Hair Vitamins?

Hair vitamins are nutrients that can help to support the health and growth of your hair.

Hair loss can happen for any number of reasons. You could have a genetic predisposition that causes you to lose hair, or perhaps an imbalance in your thyroid hormones is causing your hair to fall out. 

In some instances, your medication could be the reason you're losing hair. And other times, a medical condition, such as an autoimmune disease could be to blame.

Micronutrients like vitamins may have a role to play in improving hair loss, especially in instances where hair loss is caused by a nutrient deficiency.

Now, you know how Vitamin A is the patron saint for good eyesight, and vitamin C is the holy grail and then some, for good skin? Well, there are specific vitamins that are widely accepted for their role in hair health. We'll be taking a look at these vitamins to see how they help with maintaining hair growth and health.

Best Hair Vitamins for Hair Growth

Vitamin A

A lot goes into maintaining hair wellness, and a healthy scalp is one of the major factors. Vitamin A, a nutrient derived from eggs, meat and carrot, helps in maintaining your scalp health. 

Retinoids, a part of the vitamin A family, are necessary for regulating the secretion of sebum. This sebum is necessary to keep your scalp moisturized and healthy.

These retinoids are also necessary to accelerate the process of keratinization. To save you Google time, keratinization is the process where the protein keratin is produced. This protein is a very important contributor to your hair’s strength.

Retinoids also influence the activity of melanocytes, compounds which are responsible for providing your hair with color through melanin. 

But don’t be too quick to rush a vitamin fix. Consuming excessive amounts of vitamin A may in fact lead to hair loss. For healthy hair, you’re better off consuming it in moderation.

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You've probably come across a lot of biotin gummies, shampoos, oils, conditioners or serums while doomscrolling on Instagram. From all appearances, a squishy biotin gummy may be all that’s standing in the way of your innermost hair goals — but is it really worth the hype?

Biotin, aka vitamin B7, double aka vitamin H, is a necessary component for protein production. It is especially important for keratin production. If you remember, keratin is a protein which provides your hair with strength, a benefit your nails also enjoy. 

Without sufficient biotin, you may experience hair loss. A biotin deficiency may be acquired or congenital.

Now for gym heads, before the next few lines freak you out — note that an acquired biotin deficiency is a pretty rare thing to happen. However, it may be caused by eating raw eggs. A protein in uncooked eggs binds to the biotin in your body, preventing it from getting to work.

It may also be caused by alcoholism and anticonvulsant medication. On the other hand, a congenital biotin deficiency is usually genetic.

Like we mentioned, biotin deficiencies are very rare, especially because your body produces the required amount of biotin you need to function. Biotin supplements may however be useful in people living with a B7 deficiency.

Vitamin C

Not to be left out of all the fun, vitamin C also plays its part in making sure your hair stays in top shape. It does this in an almost roundabout way, by helping in the intestinal absorption of iron

Iron is a necessary nutrient for hair health. Though its impact on male hair loss is still being determined, an iron deficiency has been confirmed to be a cause of female hair loss, making its absorption in the body by vitamin C very important.

Vitamin D

Let's put it like this: when it comes to vitamin D and your hair’s health, you may not notice it when it's there, but you will miss it when it's gone. A deficiency of vitamin D has been linked to the occurrence of alopecia areata.

And though the vitamin isn't directly involved, vitamin D receptors have been shown to impact the hair follicle cycle.

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Vitamin E

If we're pointing fingers at the causes of alopecia, a big jab has to be directed at oxidative stress — a known cause of the premature ageing of hair. If you live with alopecia, there’s a high chance you have lower levels of antioxidants in your scalp.

Vitamin E is a pretty potent antioxidant, and is involved in the oxidant/antioxidant balance in the body. It helps to protect against free radical damage.

Minerals like zinc, whose deficiency may lead to hair loss, and iron which we’ve previously discussed are also important for hair health.

The best part about these vitamins and minerals however, is that they are also beneficial for your body’s health. Vitamin A can also positively affect your eyesight and immunity, vitamin C remains a potent antioxidant for overall health, and so on. The real question however, is if these vitamins have any effect on the hair. We checked.

Do Hair Vitamins Actually Work?

Here's where things get interesting. Even though we've established that vitamin A has a pivotal role to play in sebum and keratin production, it's important to remember that excessive amounts of this vitamin can lead to hair loss.

The daily amount required of this vitamin is 1300mcg/day for adults 19 and over. You can easily meet this quota by consuming a healthy balanced diet alone. Over-supplementing may just cause the very thing you were dreading for your hair.

With biotin, while its role in promoting hair and nail strength stands, you should always have it at the back of your mind, that your body produces most, if not all, of the biotin you need. Should you need support, a healthy diet alone is enough to supply your biotin needs — which comes in at around 30mcg/day in U.S. populations.

And while a biotin deficiency may lead to hair loss, this condition is very rare. A severe biotin deficiency in healthy individuals who consume a balanced diet is so unheard of, it has literally never been reported.

However, because there is no upper limit or risk for biotin intake, supplements may be consumed safely for any perceived benefits of the nutrient.

With iron deficiencies being one of the most common nutrient deficiencies, vitamin C supplements could play a role in preventing hair loss associated with iron deficiency. 

Plus, with our bodies naturally deficient in an enzyme necessary to process vitamin C, alternative sources like supplements with high concentrations of the nutrient could be useful in promoting hair health.

Adult men should get a daily helping of 90mg of vitamin C, while women are to have 75mg, a number that jumps to 85mg when pregnant. 

Supplements for vitamin D could be beneficial for your hair health. A vitamin D deficiency has sure links to hair loss.

Consuming supplements to meet up with the daily 600 IU recommendation in adults 19 years and above, or 800 IU for adults 70 and can prevent a deficiency of this vitamin.

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So, What’s the Verdict?

While these hair vitamins have their benefits in promoting hair strength, scalp health, antioxidant supply and new growth, they may be largely unnecessary, unless you suffer from a deficiency of the nutrient in question.

But, we won't rain on your parade. Hair vitamins are an effective way to keep up with your nutrient supply. As long as you keep your intake within safe limits, these supplements may  help in keeping your hair and body in good health.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.