Hair loss can be attributed to multiple causes, from genetics to stress to pregnancy. In addition, several vitamins and minerals are linked to hair health, meaning a lack of them can contribute to hair loss. Knowing which nutrients you need and how to increase your intake can help guard against hair falling out. Keep reading to learn about seven nutrients that are essential to hair growth and production.
A deficiency of biotin, a member of the B vitamin family, has recently been linked to hair loss. This is because biotin is a protein-builder, which is necessary for hair, skin, and nail growth and health. Keratin, the protein that makes up hair and nails, is produced in part by biotin. The vitamin also assists enzymes in breaking down fats and carbohydrates.
To get enough of this important nutrient, you can also add more biotin-rich foods to your diet, including eggs, avocados, and sweet potatoes. You can find this vitamin in many supplement forms, from pills and gummies to drink mixes and hair oils. It’s widely popular not only because of its benefits, but also because it’s nearly impossible to consume too much. Biotin is water-soluble, meaning that any excess you ingest will exit the body through the bladder.
Similar to biotin, collagen is another protein-building nutrient needed for cell repair and growth. Increasing your intake of collagen can speed up hair growth and reduce the appearance of graying. It has also been directly linked to immune health.
There are many collagen supplements on the market, many times paired with biotin. You can get them in pill, gummy, drink mix, and serum form. Some shampoos are enriched with collagen to administer the nutrient right at the scalp. If you’re looking to add foods with collagen to your diet, try consuming more chicken skin or bone broth.
Be aware that this nutrient is only found in animal products. If you’re vegetarian, that likely means you’ll need to stick with supplements that kickstart the body’s own collagen production rather than supply it directly.
Proper cell function is vital to hair health, as hair is one of the body’s fastest-growing tissues. Vitamin A is one of these key nutrients needed for cell production, and therefore it affects hair growth. Furthermore, this vitamin helps the scalp produce oil that will keep your hair moisturized.
You can find safe amounts of vitamin A in multivitamins and supplements targeted for hair, skin, and nail health. However, it’s important not to take this nutrient in high doses without the supervision of a doctor, as too much can become dangerous. Moreover, overdosing on vitamin A can actually make your hair fall out. It might be easier to simply increase your intake of foods rich in the nutrient, like spinach, milk, and carrots.
This mineral is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells. Hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body, which is essential for proper organ and tissue function. When hair follicles don’t receive enough hemoglobin, they can become weak, and hair will fall out. This is why those with iron deficiency, also known as anemia, are prone to suffer from hair loss.
Iron is a critical mineral, but as with vitamin A, it can be dangerous to take as a supplement without a doctor’s supervision. If you’re not anemic and don’t need iron supplements per se, the best approach is to take a standard multivitamin with iron. You can also increase iron-rich foods in your diet, including red meat, nuts, beans, and cereals.
A healthy immune system is linked to proper follicular function, so keeping it strong is in your best interest. While vitamin C is a famed immunity booster, it also helps prevent hair loss in other ways. Vitamin C fights free radicals in the body, which can collect around hair follicles and cause damage. The nutrient also aids in the production of collagen.
Most individuals can get the vitamin C they need from a diet that includes foods like tomatoes, citrus fruits and juices, and bell peppers. If you need a further boost, you can find many forms of vitamin C supplements, from drink mixes to gummies to tablets. Just avoid overdoing the supplementation, as ingesting too much vitamin C can lead to gastrointestinal issues.
Another essential mineral, zinc has been the subject of recent hair loss studies. While there isn’t much conclusive evidence yet, this nutrient has been proven to increase immunity. And as mentioned above, a healthy immune system is necessary for proper hair growth.
Many vitamin C supplements also contain zinc as a power duo for immune strength, so you can get two-in-one benefits. Like iron, most minerals should only be taken in small amounts and are not recommended as supplements unless absolutely necessary. To safely get more zinc, try consuming more eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, and shellfish.
A 2021 study found that the hair loss condition alopecia was linked to a deficiency of vitamin D. The nutrient is directly related to hair growth and immune function. Additionally, it is helpful at reducing inflammation, a cause of many types of alopecia.
Known as the sunshine vitamin, you can receive more of this nutrient simply by stepping outside. You can also find vitamin D in foods like tuna, salmon, and fortified cereals. Lots of dairy products are also fortified with the vitamin, so look for that on the label. Supplements are readily available, but again, exercise moderation. Extremely high levels of vitamin D can cause everything from nausea to muscle weakness to kidney stones.
When it comes to hair health, making sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs is vital. Improper levels of many vitamins and minerals are directly linked to hair loss, so make sure you’re keeping your diet healthy and balanced. Eat a variety of healthful foods, get some sunshine, and protect your immune system. And remember that some causes of hair loss go beyond vitamin deficiencies, so medication might be required. Nevertheless, getting more nutrients in addition to medication will only boost the latter’s effectiveness, so eat up.