This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see our disclosure here.
Who doesn’t want to have nice and long, healthy-looking hair? While there are many ways you can achieve this goal, if you are looking for a natural solution, the most important thing to know first is what vitamins help with hair growth and which nutrients our hair really needs. Once you know that, all that is left to do is to include these in your diet and watch your hair get better!
Well, it would be great if it was that easy. The thing is, hair is actually a nonessential tissue. So the nutrients you get do not go straight to the hair, but they go to the organs that are vital first.
We also know that consuming enough of the right foods can be challenging, and some health problems, age and genetics can sometimes make things a bit more complicated. Luckily, along with a healthy diet, there are some great natural hair growth supplements out there, that can be very effective.
So let’s take a closer look at the nutrients our hair needs, and how they can help.
The Vitamins For Hair Growth
Vitamin A (retinol) is a fat-soluble vitamin particularly important for skin and hair health, vision and the immune system. It helps the skin glands to produce sebum, which is the oily substance that keeps our scalp moisturized.
Some signs of vitamin A deficiency include: dry skin, dry scalp (dandruff), dry eyes, night blindness (poor night vision) and acne breakouts.
Foods rich in vitamin A include: milk, eggs and liver products. Sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, squash, broccoli, spinach and kale are also great options as they contain beta-carotene, which the body turns into vitamin A.
Caution: While vitamin A is important for hair growth, taking too much of it can actually have the opposite effect and cause hair loss.
Biotin (vitamin B7) is the B-vitamin that is the most commonly associated with hair growth.
Biotin’s main role is to transform food into energy by breaking down fats, carbs, and proteins.
Not a lot of research has been done to prove the benefits of biotin on hair growth but most people who have taken a biotin supplement agree that it did make their hair thicker and shinier.
Some signs of biotin deficiency include: red rashes around the nose, eyes or mouth, muscle pain and mild depression.
Foods rich in biotin include: nuts, seeds, eggs, salmon, oats and liver.
Vitamin B5 (panthotenic acid) helps the blood flow properly to the scalp to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the hair. It, therefore, helps the hair grow and protects it from thinning and hair loss.
Vitamin B5 deficiency is usually rare, but signs can include: fatigue (tiredness), digestive problems (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), sleeping problems, numbness/tingling/burning sensation in hands and feet and irritability.
Foods rich in vitamin B5 include: beef, chicken, potatoes, broccoli, and eggs.
One role of Vitamin B12 is to help the body make red blood cells. Their role is to deliver oxygen to all the cells of the body. When vitamin B12 levels are low, there isn’t enough oxygen to go around. As a result, cell division, and thus hair growth, gets affects.
Vitamin B12 can only be found in animal foods. Because of this, people on a vegetarian or vegan diet usually need to separately take a vitamin B12 supplement.
Some signs of vitamin B12 deficiency include: pale skin, swollen tongue, vision problems, fatigue, weakness, problem walking, numbness/tingling in hands, legs or feet, and memory loss.
Foods rich in vitamin B12 include: meat, fish, milk, yogurt, cheese, and eggs.
You can also find bread and cereals that have been fortified with vitamin B12.
Vitamin C plays many important roles in the body. It is important for tissue growth, wound healing and bone health.
Vitamin C is actually an antioxidant which means that it helps to protect against inflammation and oxidation caused by free radicals.
Vitamin C also helps the body to absorb iron and create collagen, which are both very important for hair growth (see how below).
Some signs of vitamin C deficiency include: slow wound healing, gum problems (bleeding or swelling), a weak immune system (frequent infections), fatigue and low mood.
Foods rich in vitamin C include: guava, kiwi, strawberries, papaya, citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli and peppers.
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is a fat-soluble vitamin necessary for a healthy immune system and strong bones, as it helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus. In terms of hair health, it plays an important role in the creation of new hair follicles and cell growth.
Some studies have shown that women with hair loss usually also had low levels of vitamin D, which suggests a link between hair loss and vitamin D deficiency.
Sun exposure is known to be the best source of vitamin D.
Signs of vitamin D deficiency include: fatigue (tiredness, low energy), weak bones and teeth, slow wound healing, low mood or depression, bone/muscle/joint pain.
Foods rich in vitamin D include: eggs, mushrooms, fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines, cod liver oil.
Vitamin E (tocopherol) is important for the proper function of the nerves, muscles and immune system.
Like vitamin C, vitamin E is also an antioxidant. This means that it can help protect the cells from free radicals and the damage they can cause.
Moreover, vitamin E can also help improve blood circulation. As a result, the hair follicles stay healthy with minimum hair fall and breakage.
Signs of vitamin E deficiency include: vision problems, weak muscles and a weak immune system.
Foods rich in vitamin E include: nuts, seeds, avocados, spinach, broccoli, olives/olive oil and pomegranate.
Collagen And Hair Growth
Collagen is known to be the “glue” that holds our body together. It is the most abundant protein in the body and makes up most of our skin, bones, ligaments and tendons. Collagen is also essential for healthy hair and nails.
As we age, the amount of collagen produced in our body starts to decrease. Because of this, our skin starts to lose its elasticity and becomes thinner. Not only that, but our hair’s color and texture also get affected. So it is important to keep good collagen levels for optimum hair growth.
Here are the different ways collagen supports hair health:
Collagen as an antioxidant: Collagen has the ability to act as an antioxidant and reduce the damage that can be caused by free radicals. Studies have shown that collagen, especially marine collagen, could be quite effective at fighting free radicals. It can help protect the cells and hair follicles as well as prevent premature graying.
Collagen supports the production of keratin: Keratin is the protein that makes up most of the hair. It is responsible for the hair’s strength and elasticity. Collagen is made of different amino acids, many of which (especially proline) contribute to the production of keratin.
Collagen promotes a healthy scalp: Since the skin is mostly made up of collagen, and the hair roots and follicles grow in the dermis layer of the skin, a healthy and elastic skin is essential to support the hair from the base and protect it from thinning and falling.
To find out which source of collagen would be best for you, make sure to check out our post about the differences between Marine collagen Vs Bovine collagen.
The Other Nutrients Our Hair Need
Having low levels of iron can cause anemia. In that case, the cells do not receive enough oxygen, which can cause the hair to become thinner and then fall.
Signs of iron deficiency include: pale skin, low energy and brittle nails.
Foods rich in iron include: red meat, poultry, eggs, nuts, pumpkin seeds, broccoli.
Zinc is an essential trace element (we do not need a lot of it), and because the body does not store it, it is important to make sure that you get enough of it on a daily basis.
One of zinc’s most important role is that it supports hormonal balance. And since hormonal imbalance is often linked to hair loss, consuming enough of this mineral is essential. Moreover, zinc also helps in the absorption of other nutrients.
Signs of zinc deficiency include: frequent diarrhea, skin problems, thinning hair and wound healing problems.
Foods rich in zinc include: animal products such as meat, liver, fish, poultry, eggs
Note that many plant foods contain zinc, but they usually also contain phytates, which are compounds that can prevent the zinc from being absorbed properly. Because of this, animal foods are usually considered a better source of zinc.
Caution: Zinc deficiency and having too much of it can both cause hair loss. So here, balance is key. You are more likely to benefit from a zinc supplement if you are vegan or if you actually have a zinc deficiency.
Proper omega 3 intake is known to be essential for heart and brain health.
Omega 3s are essential fatty acids that help reduce inflammation in the body. Not only does omega-3 promote hair growth, but it also gives thickness and shine to the hair.
Signs of omega 3 deficiency include: rough/scaly skin, soft/brittle nails, dry hair, dandruff, difficulty concentrating, low mood, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
Foods rich in omega 3s include: salmon, sardine, mackerel, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds and canola oil.
The Best Natural Supplements For Hair Growth
Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables is a must if you are looking to improve your hair health in general. But since it is not always easy or possible for everyone to eat enough of the foods listed above, we have gathered a list of some of the best natural hair supplements we know about that could greatly help you in your hair improving journey.
So if you are interested… here’s our selection.
Specially formulated by nutritionists, this natural hair supplement contains biotin, folic acid, vegan B12 and zinc, as well as Fo-Ti, a traditional Chinese herb that has been used for centuries to improve hair growth and color.
This whole food and organic supplement has been specially formulated for skin, nail and hair health. It contains vitamin B5, C, E and biotin as well as zinc. These tablets also contain a special blend of herbs and whole fruits.
Eating a balanced diet that includes all types of food is definitely the best way you can help your hair grow and improve your health in general. If you think you might not be getting enough of the nutrients listed, taking a nutritional supplement alongside can be quite beneficial. Just always make sure that you choose a supplement that is as natural as possible and free from potentially harmful ingredients.
If you suffer from any particular health problems, are taking medications, are pregnant or breast-feeding, it’s best to ask your doctor before you start taking a new supplement (just to be on the safe side!).