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Essential Vitamins For a Healthy Head of Hair

Essential Vitamins for Healthier Hair

Although the main causes of male pattern baldness are genetic and hormonal, diet and lifestyle factors can also have a huge effect on the health and thickness of your hair.

One important hair health factor that’s often forgotten is vitamin consumption. Just like vitamins can strengthen your immune system and give you healthier skin, regular consumption of certain vitamins may have a measurable positive impact on the thickness, shine and health of your hair.

If you’ve noticed your hair starting to thin, become weaker, or split apart towards the end, there’s a chance it could be due to insufficient vitamin consumption.

Luckily, vitamins are very affordable, making it easy for you to supplement your diet and get a full intake of the vitamins you need to keep your hair at its best. Even without supplementation, most vitamin deficiencies can be fixed with some simple changes to your diet and lifestyle.

In this guide, we’ll cover the role vitamins play in hair health and share our recommendations for the best vitamins for improving your hair’s growth rate, thickness, color, shine and other factors that have a noticeable impact on the way you look.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is one of the most important and controversial vitamins for hair health. The reason for the controversy surrounding this vitamin is that while healthy amounts can stimulate hair growth, large doses of vitamin A can cause scalp oil issues that can cause you to shed hair.

This means that balance is key with vitamin A -- you’ll want to consume enough to get all of the hair growth benefits, without overdoing it. The US recommended dietary allowance of Vitamin A is 900 micrograms per day for men and 700 mcg per day for women; stick to this dose and you can expect all of the benefits without any scalp oil problems.

Vitamin A plays a major role in repairing damage to your hair. It also keeps your scalp moist and irritation-free by promoting the production of scalp oil. Consume the right amount and you could see a noticeable increase in the speed at which your hair grows.

Since vitamin A deficiency is uncommon in developed countries, there’s no need to supplement vitamin A if you haven’t noticed any of the effects of deficiency. However, if you choose to top up your vitamin A, you’ll be just fine with the amount included in most multivitamin supplements.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12, which is produced primarily by bacteria and archaea and consumed through meat and fortified foods, plays an important role in promoting healthy hair growth.

Clinical data shows that about six percent of people under 60 years of age have a vitamin B12 deficiency, with deficiency rates as high as 80% in parts of the developing world. Symptoms of insufficient vitamin B12 include poor memory and ulcers, as well as premature hair loss.

There are also other serious symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, making it important that you talk to your doctor if you think you’re affected.

Unlike most vitamins, which are quickly processed by your liver and excreted after consumption, your body can store excess vitamin B12 in your liver to use when it needs it. This makes it easy to boost your vitamin B12 levels with a supplement and ensure you’re never deficient.

Vitamin C

While you might not think of it as an important vitamin for hair health, vitamin C plays a major role in keeping your hair thick, strong and healthy.

Studies show that vitamin C is an important component in collagen synthesis. Put simply, this means that getting your daily dose of vitamin C is important for ensuring your hair, skin, nails and other body parts strong, since collagen is the most abundant protein in your body.

Without enough collagen, even the thickest hair can become weak and brittle, causing serious problems no matter how full your hairline might be.

The good news is that vitamin C is one of the easiest vitamins to consume. You can get your daily supply by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, or just by consuming a vitamin C supplement every morning.

Vitamin D

Like the other vitamins listed above, low levels of vitamin D can contribute to hair shedding and temporary hair loss.

Most people know of vitamin D as the "sun vitamin," as this vitamin is created as a byproduct of cholecalciferol synthesis when your skin is exposed to sun. Technically, vitamin D is a collection of vitamins, all of which play an important role in promoting strong overall health.

Vitamin D deficiency is one of several causes of telogen effluvium -- a stress-related condition that can cause you to rapidly shed hair. The results are rapid and severe, with as much as 70% of your scalp hair falling out over the course of two months.

If you don’t get a lot of sunlight and have noticed rapid hair shedding, there’s chance that poor vitamin D production could be the culprit.

Luckily, there are multiple ways to solve this problem. The first -- which is more of a band-aid solution than a cure -- is to take a vitamin D supplement. If you’re deficient in vitamin D, this is an easy and effective way to get instant relief.

The better long-term approach is to improve your sun exposure. Quick sun exposure sessions of 10 to 15 minutes each will help you get all of the vitamin D benefits of spending time in the sun without damaging your skin, all while doubling as an easy way to improve your tan.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is arguably the most important vitamin for promoting hair growth, so much so that it’s widely used in homemade topical formulas to encourage the rapid growth of thick, strong and healthy hair.

In fact, scientific study data shows that supplementation of tocotrienols, which are antioxidants in the vitamin E family, contributed to a 34.5% increase in hair growth over eight months of use in study participants.

Like many other vitamins, vitamin E is an antioxidant that’s important for building and repairing body tissue. As well as protecting your eyes, heart and internal organs, vitamin E plays a huge role in promoting the growth and recovery of your skin and hair.

There are several ways to give your hairline a boost with vitamin E. The first is to add foods to your diet that are rich in vitamin E, such as spinach, broccoli and avocados. You can also add vitamin E to your diet by eating more almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts.

Another option is to take a vitamin E supplement. Vitamin E capsules are very affordable and widely available, making them easy to add to a supplement stack. You’ll also find vitamin E as an ingredient in most men’s multivitamin supplements.

Biotin

Biotin is a B-vitamin that plays a major role in promoting the growth of healthy hair. In fact, biotin is so closely related to the growth of healthy hair that studies indicate approximately 38% of all females with hair loss issues have biotin deficiencies.

As well as playing a role in preventing hair loss, biotin seems to have an active role in growing thicker, healthier hair. A recent study shows that oral biotin supplementation can produce faster hair growth in people with thinning hair.

Managing your biotin consumption is fairly straightforward. In fact, if you consume foods like eggs, almonds, sweet potatoes and spinach for most people, there may be’s no need to worry about biotin at all. 

If you’re concerned about a biotin deficiency, the best course of action is to see your doctor. A biotin deficiency is easy to detect with a simple blood test, and your doctor will be able to help you with supplementation advice.

Chances are you get more than enough biotin from your diet, and while supplements aren’t likely to hurt you, their effectiveness for non-deficient people isn’t yet established.

This article was reviewed by Brendan Levy, MD.