What are the Best Vitamins to Stimulate Hair Growth?
Genetics, medication, hormones, and stress can all contribute to hair loss — and so can poor nutrition.
Studies have shown a link between nutritional deficiencies and various types of hair thinning or baldness, such as androgenetic alopecia and pattern hair loss. Your hair needs various vitamins, minerals, and other types of nutrients to stay healthy (as does the rest of your body). But which nutrients should you prioritise?
In this post, we’ll explore 5 of the best hair growth vitamins and other crucial nutrients to add to your diet.
The Most Effective Vitamins for Hair Growth
Here are the top vitamins to promote better hair growth, in alphabetical order.
Vitamin A is important for a healthy immune system, cell division, eyesight, and other essential functions. Its antioxidant properties mean vitamin A helps protect your cells against free radicals’ harmful effects, which can lead to heart disease and other health issues.
Vitamin A is also critical to develop and maintain hair, skin, and sebaceous glands which release sebum. This substance moisturises the scalp and hair.
You can increase your vitamin A naturally by eating:
- Sweet potatoes
However, there’s a delicate balancing act with vitamin A consumption: too much may actually trigger hair loss. One study found that a woman whose vitamin A levels were higher than normal experienced sudden shedding.
B vitamins are essential for overall good health, aiding brain function, cell metabolism, and cognitive function. B vitamins include B-1, B-2, and B-12, but one of the best vitamins for hair growth in this group is biotin. A lack of biotin has been linked to hair loss (along with many other symptoms).
However, the human body is unable to store biotin as it’s water-soluble. That means you need to consume foods or supplements containing biotin to maintain healthy levels. Fortunately, you can choose from a number of biotin-rich options including:
- Nuts (such as walnuts and peanuts)
- Seeds (e.g. sunflower seeds)
- Egg yolk
- Sweet potatoes
Each of these can help you raise your biotin levels.
Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that fights damage caused by free radicals (as does vitamin A). Free radicals lead to oxidative stress that leads to aging hair, so increasing your vitamin C intake could help to reduce your risk of hair loss.
It’s also known to stimulate collagen production, a substance critical for strong skin and hair. Vitamin C aids iron absorption, too, which also promotes healthy hair. According to the NHS website, you can get more vitamin C from:
- Brussels sprouts
- Oranges and orange juice
As with biotin, the human body is unable to store vitamin C so it should be in your diet each day.
A vitamin D deficiency is common amongst people affected by alopecia areata, a form of hair loss that causes bald patches to develop across the scalp. It’s unknown exactly why vitamin D is one of the best hair growth vitamins, but it’s also necessary for strong teeth, bones, and muscles (according to the NHS website).
Direct sunlight encourages the body to produce vitamin D, but you must take care to prevent overexposure. You can also get vitamin D from the following foods:
- Egg yolks
- Some fortified cereals
Alternatively, you may try dietary supplements if you want to raise your vitamin D levels without changing your diet.
No list of the best vitamins for hair growth would be complete without vitamin E. This combats oxidative stress, and promotes healthy eyes and skin. It also reinforces the immune system.
Study participants who took tocotrienol supplements (a member of the vitamin E family) experienced better hair growth, with a 34.5% increase in hair counts after eight months.
Boost your vitamin E levels with:
- Olive oil
- Sunflower oil
- Raw red sweet pepper
We’ve covered the best vitamins for hair health, but now we’ll look at 3 other nutrients with the power to stimulate better hair growth.
Protein is one of the most important building blocks of hair. A drop in protein consumption can lead to hair loss, such as telogen effluvium (which causes more hairs to enter the telogen, or shedding, stage of the hair growth cycle).
Consuming protein also builds muscle mass, controls hunger, and may help you maintain a healthy weight. You can increase your protein intake by eating:
- Cottage cheese
You may also get protein from whey protein supplements.
Zinc is vital for maintaining a healthy metabolism, healing wounds, and proper function of the immune system. One of the many symptoms of a zinc deficiency is alopecia, along with diarrhea and weakened immunity.
Try the following foods to get more zinc:
- Cashew nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Flax seeds
- Dark chocolate
You may also take a zinc supplement if necessary.
Iron is a must in any list of the best minerals and vitamins for hair growth. It facilitates various bodily functions, such as regulating body temperature and maintaining a healthy immune system.
But this mineral also contributes to healthy hair growth, as iron deficiency is a common condition often linked to diffuse hair loss (in which hair thins across the whole scalp).
You’ll find iron in the following:
- Red kidney beans
- Pumpkin seeds
- Red meat
However, take care: according to the NHS website, taking more than 20mg of iron per day can lead to nausea, stomach pain, and constipation.
Increasing your intake of these nutrients may stimulate hair growth and offer other health benefits, but it’s not guaranteed. If adjusting your diet doesn’t help, you may need treatment.
Hair transplantation, such as Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE), is the most effective treatment available. A surgeon transplants healthy follicles from parts of the scalp with healthy growth to thinning or bald areas.