Are your tresses dull and lackluster? Does it look like your hair growth is stunted no matter what you do? You might be missing one or more vitamin essential to healthy hair growth.
If you’re like me, you probably hate popping pills— especially the ones that are almost the size of an Oreo! However, the truth is, as we get older, we need to do more for our bodies internally to keep our hair healthy and vibrant. Part of this is vitamin levels in our bodies.
Vitamins help the body to grow and develop. It helps us to optimize our internal functions like immunity and metabolism. We are usually able to meet most of our vitamin needs via a balanced diet, but this isn’t always possible and this is where taking supplements come in.
Below is a breakdown of the essential vitamins that play a vital role in general body health and hair growth.
1. Vitamin A
This acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body and is in the form of beta-carotene and other carotenoids. It is also necessary for healthy eyes. Vitamin A can be found in carrots, lettuce, potatoes, paprika, mangoes and other fruits and vegetables.
2. Vitamin D
This vitamin optimizes calcium absorption, which is required for healthy bones. Exposure to the sun for about 30 minutes at least twice a week is enough for the body to synthesize this vitamin.
However, not everyone is able to expose themselves to this much sun due to their location, profession or a drug being consumed for something else. A supplement providing 600 IU of vitamin D daily is enough to meet requirements. You can also obtain vitamin D from foods such as cod liver oil, seafood and dairy products.
3. Vitamin B Complex
This is a family of vitamins, which include B-1 (thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3 (niacin), B-5 (panthothenic acid), B-6 (pyridoxine), B-7 or H (biotin), B-9 (folic acid) and B-12 (cobalamin).
This vitamins in this group work in conjunction with each other and often exist in the same types of food such as whole grain cereals, poultry, diary products, green vegetables, meat, fish and liver. This vitamin is the most important of all the vitamins, as you’ll see later on.
4. Vitamin C
This vitamin is important to the immune system and also acts as an antioxidant, which helps the body fight free radicals. It is included in a lot of cosmetics. Lack of vitamin C exposes your body to various diseases, like colds and flu, and external things like dry hair and skin. You can get vitamin C through fruits, especially citrus fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C also enhances the absorption of iron.
5. Vitamin E
This vitamin is known to be a powerful antioxidant. It refers to a group of compounds that fall into two groups—tocopherols and tocotrienols. These compounds occur in soybean oil, corn oil, butter and salad dressings. Vitamin E also occurs naturally in sunflower oil, wheat germ oil and safflower oil as well as in some nuts. It is said to hinder free radical damage and inhibit premature signs of aging.
6. Vitamin K
This is another family of vitamins, which includes K1, K2 and K3. Vitamin K is why the blood coagulates properly. It also contributes to bone health. It can be found in leafy greens, soybean oil and dairy products.
Specific Vitamins that Target Hair Growth
All the vitamins mentioned previously are required for optimal bodily functions, which translates to better hair growth, but there are a few of them that specifically assist with hair growth. If you look at the ingredient listing of products created to foster hair growth rate, you will see one or more of these vitamins.
- Vitamin D: This is required for healthy hair follicle cycling. A lack of vitamin D will lead to hair loss. If you are unable to get the required dose of vitamin D through food and sunlight, you may need to include the supplement in your diet. Having your body generate what it needs through sunlight remains the best way to get this vitamin.
- Vitamin B-3 (Niacin): Without this vitamin, your hair can become brittle and lifeless. By including niacin in your diet, expect a nourished scalp and supple moisturized hair. Lack of niacin in the body manifests itself as pellagra.
- Vitamin B-7 or H (Biotin): This is one of the most popular hair supplements on the market. It can be obtained through food, but your body can’t retain it because it’s a water-soluble vitamin. Biotin boosts the follicles already growing and leads to a growth spurt. Some women have complained of breakouts, but this should be resolved by drinking loads of water.
- Vitamin C: This enhances the absorption of iron, a mineral vital for healthy growth of red blood cells. Vitamin C also produces collagen, an instrumental protein when it comes to healthy skin and hair growth.
5 Ways to Maintain Your Vitamin Levels
- Drink plenty of water especially after meals, and stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Eat a balanced diet with the foods recommended.
- Reduce or eliminate smoking completely. If you don’t smoke, reduce your exposure to passive smoke.
- Refrain from excessive alcohol consumption.
- Eliminate consumption of unnecessary drugs.
Don’t start taking vitamins on your own though. You can determine if you are deficient in any vitamin by taking a simple blood test to check your vitamin levels. Always consult your doctor or dietician before taking supplements that will have a bearing on your health.