Hair loss, thinning, baldness, and breakage can occur for many different reasons, such as hormonal imbalance, chronic stress, genetic risk factors, malnutrition, and more.
In some cases, it could be a mix of many factors. To have healthy hair, you need to give special attention to your hair follicles and scalp in the form of necessary, essential nutrients.
These include vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that can help to promote shiny, thick, luscious locks of hair. By adding these nutrients to your diet more often, you can likely expect your hair to grow faster, break less, and shine more.
Are you reaching for new hair products every month and nothing works? It may be time to look inside. What you feed your body comes out on the outside. Just as eating processed foods can leave you with acne or bloating, so too can a nutrient-poor diet leave you with hair problems.
If you experience significant hair loss, consult with your healthcare professional. See if some or a combination of these nutrients can help with your hair growth issues, or if you have a genetic predisposition to hair loss.
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Best Nutrients & Vitamins for Hair Growth
If you are unsure where to start, a nutritionist or health coach can help you get on track with a healthier nutrient-dense diet full of hair growth vitamins, minerals, and more. A healthy scalp and a thick head of hair may just be a few meals away.
Find out what nutrients you can add to your diet and where to get them below.
1. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are an essential nutrient that everyone needs to decrease inflammation in the body and even prevent hair loss. Omega 3 fatty acids, also known as fish or algal oil, can strengthen hair by opening hair follicles with their healthy fat content.
You can get omega 3s from all types of fish, especially the fattiest fish like sardines, mackerel, tuna, salmon, anchovies, and much more. Vegans can get omega 3s from algae or algal oil. The body cannot produce Omega 3 fatty acids, so dietary sources are necessary.
There are two types of omega 3s, EPA and DHA. Supplementing or eating more foods high in EPA is ideal for neurological conditions like anxiety or depression, while DHA is better for hair growth (1). But both can be effective.
2. Essential B Vitamins, Especially Biotin
Biotin is the most potent essential B vitamin for hair growth, but other B vitamins can be helpful as well.
Vitamin B12 and folate (B9) are other examples of B vitamins that can also help to strengthen hair. B12 can have a connection with hair loss in women who suffer from anemia or depression (2). And, those with lower folate and B12 appear to have lower levels of biotin, even without a prominent biotin deficiency (3).
All essential B vitamins play a vital role in cellular and nerve function, and having higher levels of all may be beneficial for hair growth.
Some may benefit from increasing their dietary consumption of all of these B vitamins, and even adding a supplement to their daily routine, based on symptoms and specific lifestyle factors.
Magnesium, often referred to as nature’s anti-stress mineral, plays a critical role in hair growth as well, specifically with follicle hair growth.
Did you know that magnesium is responsible for over 200 enzyme reactions in the body? Magnesium can assist with hair growth as well as heart, kidney, and gastrointestinal health. And nearly 50% of the population is deficient in this critical mineral (4).
Many healthy foods are high in magnesium like nuts, seeds, avocado, leafy greens, lean meat, tofu, beans, peas, and more. Make sure to get your fill of heart and hair healthy foods rich in magnesium every day.
Magnesium is also a critical factor to help convert vitamin D, another common deficiency, to its final usable form in the body. The roles of magnesium and far and wide, so do not forget about this essential mineral when it comes to hair health.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is another vitamin worth considering for healthier hair. It is technically a hormone because it works as one in the body. Optimal hormonal health is also necessary to promote hair growth.
Around 1 billion people worldwide suffer from vitamin D deficiency. That is because it is necessary to get vitamin D2 from certain foods and D3 from the sun or supplements to synthesize vitamin D in the body.
Non-scarring hair loss or alopecia affects women and men across the globe, and vitamin D may play a significant role in it. In one study, there seems to be a connection between those with non-scarring alopecia and lower vitamin D levels. And emotional stress preventing participants from being outside in the sun may also be a factor (5).
It is also responsible for promoting a healthy immune system, preventing autoimmunity and intestinal permeability, and much more. The next time you feel ill, or your hair is weaker, make sure you are not forgoing vitamin D in your life.
Zinc helps give hair its shine and helps contribute to hair growth and repair. For hair to grow, the oil glands around hair follicles must work well. Zinc ensures that possibility.
Those with hair loss often are low in zinc. Supplementing or diet change can significantly help. It is vital to avoid taking too much zinc, typically no more than 40 mg per day, even though a small amount of 15 mg can help.
Foods high in zinc include oysters, clams, and other types of fish, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, and more. Even if you have a diet high in zinc, it can be common to have malabsorption issues if you are still showing low numbers. That is why it is such a common deficiency. Make sure to talk to your healthcare professional if you think you may be deficient in zinc.
Zinc also helps to boost the immune system, warding off viruses. Add some more zinc-rich foods into your diet today to reap the overall health benefits, including hair growth.
6. Iron and Ferritin
Iron deficiency can lead to hair loss because adequate iron promotes circulation, helping to bring oxygen to the hair follicles.
Ferritin is a blood marker that determines how many iron stores your body has. This marker can be just as important to know as iron to determine how well your body absorbs iron.
Many people can suffer from malabsorption issues when it comes to iron, sometimes brought on by low stomach acid. Foods rich in iron include red meat, chicken, fish, white beans, oysters, spinach, soybeans, and lentils. A mix of non-heme and heme iron foods can be highly beneficial for those who are low iron.
7. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a group of compounds that work as a potent antioxidant in the body, helping to banish free radicals and oxidative stress.
Both free radicals and oxidative stress can cause damage to hair follicles. Vitamin E can help reduce inflammation, leading to healthier hair. Oxidative stress and alopecia may have a direct link, so supplementing with vitamin E can treat and prevent hair loss (6).
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it is vital to monitor the amount you take. It is best to get it from food alone is you can or a small amount in a supplement.
8. Vitamin A
Every cell in the body needs vitamin A for growth, and that includes hair. And the power of vitamin A does not stop at hair growth. It also moisturizes the hair follicles leading to more shine.
Keep in mind that vitamin A is another fat-soluble vitamin, so it can be easy to take too much if taken in excess. It can build up in the body and cause more damage than good.
Eating foods with vitamin A in your diet is a safe way to promote healthier hair. Get it through carrots, eggs, lean meat, and many vegetables.
9. Vitamin C
When you think of vitamin C, think of collagen. Collagen is necessary to create healthy skin, nails, hair, and more.
Those who are low in iron can also benefit from more vitamin C, as it helps with iron absorption.
Just as a lack of vitamin C can cause hair loss, so can excess amounts. Be cautious not to overdo any vitamin or mineral, as a balance is always the healthiest option.
Protein is an essential nutrient that is necessary for any diet. Proteins, like collagen, are made up of amino acids that work to support the skin, muscles, and even hair follicles (7).
Hair follicles contain mostly a protein called keratin, so it is only natural that they need protein for adequate growth.
Too little protein in your diet can cause hair loss and breakage. Make sure to eat lean protein every day to ensure luscious locks of hair.
There are many crucial nutrients the body needs to maintain hair health, promoting growth, and less breakage.
All these nutrients are a part of a healthy, balanced diet, and some may benefit from a supplement.
Never exceed the recommended dosage for any vitamin, mineral, or nutrient, and remember balance is the key to optimal hair growth.