7 Most Essential Vitamins For Hair Growth
For a healthy and stunning mane, it is important that you get the right amounts of vitamins required for hair growth and overall health and wellness. Nutritionally rich foods ensure that each part of your body is in its best shape, including your hair.
Fortunately, the negative effects of poor diet can be reversed by modifying your current eating habits and making room for foods rich in vitamins your hair needs.
Almost every hair, skin and nail supplement contains this vitamin. Also known as Vitamin H, this B vitamin is also found in shampoos that promote hair growth. Biotin is the most researched vitamin for hair growth and can be found naturally in a variety of foods, so before you pop that pill – hold it right there until I’m done.
Biotin plays a key role in strengthening your hair by increasing its elasticity and protecting against dryness. Having more biotin in your diet will reduce brittleness and make your hair thick, shiny and silky. Moreover, biotin aids in the production of keratin – a prime constituent of hair.
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Additionally, research shows that biotin deficiency may be linked to age-related hair symptoms such as graying and thinning. Although biotin deficiency is not a common problem because most foods in an average person’s diet contains some biotin, symptoms such as hair loss, skin problems, mild depression and chronic conjunctivitis are likely to occur if you are deficient in this vitamin. Fortunately, deficiency can simply be reversed by supplementation after a doctor’s visit.
Certain conditions and situations may also impair hair growth. For example, people taking epilepsy medications or individuals with stomach stapling may be prone to biotin deficiencies, thus requiring biotin supplements.
Note that even though biotin is a B vitamin, you will not get a sufficient amount of it from B complex supplements consisting of only about 10 percent of what is required daily. Therefore, to optimize hair growth, ask your health care provider to run a biotin test or purchase supplements after seeking advice from your nutritionist.
Biotin also plays a role in converting foods to fuel and metabolizing fats and proteins. The most common sources of biotin include eggs, oats, green peas, bulgur and my favorite, nuts!
Lentils are also an amazing source of biotin like in the form of a lentil soup or dhaal!
Another awesome way to have lentils is in the form of burger patties. I absolutely love these veggie lentil burger patties!
It is satisfying, delicious and super nutritious. I’d skip adding the bread crumbs in this one, however because bread is made with white flour, which is practically processed junk. You can skip the bread and add in some steamed brown rice for the carb-kick patties require but this isn’t necessary.
Quick tip: While raw eggs in your protein shakes are amazing for your health, having cooked eggs is not so bad too. Research shows that a biotin-destroying agent in egg yolks is often inactivated during the process of cooking. In addition, you should never throw away the yolks! Yolks are amazing and rich in biotin and vitamin D. Here is a post by Authority Nutrition on the top 11 mistakes we all make in our diets – throwing away the yolks is one of them.
2. Folic Acid
Folic acid is required for cell turnover for proteins and red blood cells. The amount of folic acid taken through diet can really have an impact of how thick your hair is and how fast it grows.
In most cases, going on weight loss fad diets causes folic acid deficiency due to deprivation of important macronutrients and food groups. Not having foods rich in folic acid such as liver, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and poultry may cause dry, brittle hair that is prone to breakage and fall. Other sources of folic acid include whole grains and pork.
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Folic acid is water-soluble and you only need 10mg of it per day – if in excess, it will be flushed out of the body.
3. Vitamin C
We all know that vitamin C is awesome and does great job in keeping our skin healthy and smooth, however, vitamin C plays an important role in maintaining the health of our hair too. Numerous hair products contain vitamin C as an ingredient for a reason. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that prevents free radical damage in the hair and skin that causes premature aging. In addition, it aids in iron absorption – another nutrient required for optimum hair growth.
Look for products infused with vitamin C and consume ample amounts of food rich in it. Some of the best examples include oranges, berries, limes and lemons, bell peppers, cabbage, guava, passion fruit, kiwi, papaya and melons. Whole foods are obviously better than supplements but if you feel you can’t have enough through your diet, take a supplement.
I’m a huge fan of Blogilates’ creator, Cassey Ho’s recipes and workouts. The recipes are easy and can be made with just a few ingredients and her workouts, you’ll have to try them out for yourself.
4. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is also an antioxidant that plays a role in neutralizing free radicals. Also popularly termed as the “good skin vitamin”, vitamin E also assists blood circulation by enhancing oxygen uptake. More oxygen is always a good thing because this amplifies the functioning of all organs and systems in the body and your hair is not left out either. Additionally, like vitamin C, vitamin E has a positive impact on your immune system, thus reducing your chances of hair loss and hair damage.
A daily intake of vitamin E, along with other vital vitamins can surely improve your hair health, making it shinier and silkier. Vitamin E can also speed up your hair growing process, therefore, don’t leave it out. The best sources of vitamin E include nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, beans and soybeans, wheat germ oil and whole grains.
Oatmeal is a great source of vitamin E and we can’t go wrong with oatmeal cookies. Fortunately, you can make a clean version of oatmeal cookies. Here's the recipe. The oatmeal cookies come out chewy and the raisins give them a great kick!
You are required to take no more than 400 IU of vitamin E per day. Exceeding the recommended amount may cause blood thinning and hence, bleeding. Vitamin E has blood thinning properties; therefore, make sure you stop use before any type of surgery.
5. Vitamin A
Also known as retinol, vitamin A’s main function is to improve eye health. However, it is widely used to promote skin and hair health too and is hence, used in a variety of beauty products. Vitamin A stimulates the production of sebum in the hair. Sebum is an oil substance secreted by the scalp which prevents hair from falling or becoming dry and brittle.
Furthermore, like the aforementioned vitamins, vitamin A also plays a key role in warding off free radical damage that causes aging of hair and skin.
Lack of vitamin A in your diet not only affects hair and skin health, but it can impair vision and your overall health too.
Vitamin A is commonly found in nuts, fish and fish oils, krill oil, carrots, peaches, spinach, pumpkin and sweet potato.
I love pumpkin and my favorite way to have it is in the form of a smoothie. My favorite is this pumpkin spice smoothie.
Especially from this recipe from One Lovely Life. This smoothie is so comforting and delicious. Moreover, it’s clean, paleo and super-energizing and filling.
If you’re taking supplements alongside a diet rich in vitamin A, make sure you’re careful. While enough vitamin A may have amazing effects on your hair and health, an excess can be toxic and counterproductive, leading to hair loss and a plethora of other complications. The maximum you should consume via diet and supplementation should be 25000 IU.
6. Vitamin D
Vitamin D enhances the growth of healthy hair follicles; therefore, having more of it is always a good idea. However, you don’t need hours of sun to synthesize ample vitamin D – in fact, over-exposure to sunlight is actually bad for hair and skin health and can cause damage. Just brief outdoor sessions, say 15 minutes a day under the sun is enough and don’t forget the sunscreen. If you have to stay outdoors for long periods, make sure you cover your hair properly with a scarf or a hat.
You can also get vitamin D from various dietary sources such as eggs, dairy, poultry, nuts and vegetables. If you feel more is needed, supplement!
7. Pantothenic Acid
Not a very common vitamin, but pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5 plays a crucial role in improving hair health and stimulating growth. Not only does it aid in hair growth, it also prevents graying and hair loss from aging.
Pantothenic acid strengthens hair follicles, thus allowing them to function optimally. Moreover, it helps remove dead skin from your scalp, hence ensuring it’s clean for new hair growth to take place.
You can find vitamin B5 in your B complex supplements, but you can get it in plentiful supplies from whole grains, nuts and eggs.
Best Vitamin Rich Foods For Hair Growth
We’ve talked about the individual vitamins you might need for hair growth, now let’s get to what you should be eating more of to help your hair grow faster and stronger. Let’s face it, we all know what vitamins our hair needs, they’re usually on the labels of most of our hair products but we still tend to overlook them.
We want shortcuts, therefore, we turn towards supplement cocktails and hair growth pills that may or may not make a change quickly or at all.
However, all good things in life come naturally. Therefore, choose to consume natural REAL foods that are nutritionally dense and rich in vitamins your hair will love.
Here is the rundown of the best foods containing vitamins that are good for hair growth – have more of these, and less of foods that come in cartons, cans and packages.
Who doesn’t love chicken? Chicken, or more accurately, chicken breasts are a fantastic source of protein – a primary component of your hair. Moreover, it also contains vitamins and minerals that make your hair strong, lush and beautiful, such as B vitamins, zinc, iron and selenium.
Consume more of foods that are rich in protein because protein is the building blocks for your hair, and well, everything else in your body.
Other rich sources of protein include, grass-fed lean red meat, fish, eggs, lentils, whole grains such as quinoa and oats and dairy
Fish such as salmon are an exceptional source of protein as well as vitamin D. We’ve already talked about why protein and vitamin D are great for the hair so let’s look at the other constituents of fish. Fish is also a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids, which promote hair growth and help in making your hair silky and shiny. Omega 3s are found in the cell membranes of the skin cells in your scalp and also aid in the formation of natural oils that promote scalp and hair health.
Other sources of vitamin D and omega 3s include avocado, nuts and seeds and whole grains.
Nuts, particularly walnuts, consist of significantly high amounts of omega 3s, biotin and vitamin E. Biotin strengthens your hair, while vitamin E prevents free radical damage to the DNA in your hair follicle cells. Your hair is frequently exposed to the sun; therefore, free radical damage is likely to result.
To prevent this, you need to consume more of foods containing vitamin A, C and E. Walnuts also contain copper which keeps your hair voluminous and thick, while sustaining its natural color.
Walnut oil can be used for salad dressings, stir fries and other dishes instead of other common oils such as canola.
Eggs are superfoods for hair as they are packed with protein, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iron and sulfur. Iron is required in abundant supplies for hair health because it helps your red blood cells carry oxygen to your hair follicles, thus promoting growth. Lack of iron may result in anemia, which is a major cause of hair loss.
Lentils are one of my favorite sources of protein, biotin, zinc and iron. Lentils are a key ingredient in the Indian diet, which explains why Indians have long, lush and thick beautiful hair. Lentils also serve as a powerful protein source for vegans and vegetarians.
Spinach is a daily must-have for me in my morning green juice. It’s a rich source of vitamin A, folic acid, vitamin C and iron. Spinach keeps your hair follicles healthy and promotes the formation of sebum in your scalp.
Bonus: Spinach is a rich source of magnesium, which if lacking in your diet, can cause belly fat. Therefore, have more green juices with spinach and kale and add in an apple or a banana to nullify its rich, earthy taste.
If you’re not a huge fan of spinach, broccoli, Swiss chard and kale are excellent foods for hair growth as well.
It's time you get rid of all the potatoes and potato snacks in your kitchen and replace them with sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene – a compound which your body converts to vitamin A. Every cell in your body requires vitamin A to function; therefore, your hair follicle cells cannot be left out either. Vitamin A promotes sebum production, which reduces dandruff, itchiness and dryness of the scalp.
I know most of you are fans of French fries but have you ever thought of a healthier alternative? Cut a sweet potato up into wedges, drizzle some olive oil and sea salt and bake them in the oven instead of frying them.
You can have sweet potato in many ways. Here are a bunch of sweet potato recipes that truly taste amazing but my favorite will always be the oven roasted sweet potato wedges!
Other healthy sources of vitamin A include pumpkin, cantaloupe, apricots, peaches, mangoes and carrots. Any fruit or vegetable that’s bright yellow or orange has to have vitamin A – it’s the beta-carotene that gives them their color.
Greek yogurt is a diet-friendly form of dairy which is packed with protein, pantothenic acid and vitamin D, all of which are great for hair growth.
Greek yogurt also consists of a very low to zero lactose content because the straining process removes the lactose, thus making it friendly for those with lactose intolerance.
Have you ever tried making a tzatziki sauce? It’s these super delicious Greek yogurt, garlic and cucumber sauce that you can have with almost anything – even the sweet potato wedges I mentioned earlier.
I love berries, and blueberries are my absolute favorite. Did you guys know bananas are berries too? Weird, right?
Anyway blueberries taste amazing with Greek yogurt and a chopped banana. You can add them to bran muffins as well. Here is an easy blueberry muffin recipe and it is amazing!
Blueberries are a rich source of vitamin C, a nutrient that cannot be beaten when it comes to hair and skin health.
You need to ensure that you give your hair the TLC it requires because as it is not an organ, your body doesn’t make many attempts to protect it. Therefore, a deficiency in any nutrient your hair requires for any reason can result in poor hair health featuring problems such as dull, dry hair, hair fall, brittleness, breakage dandruff, itchy scalp and hair thinning.
It will take a longer time to notice any change in your hair health – whether its good or bad, unlike your skin which shows instant changes after a week of diet change.
However, there is more to hair health than just plain nutritional changes. You need to prevent external as well as internal damages to your hair as well. Smoking, air pollution, hormonal imbalance, stress and anxiety and lack of sleep amongst others are common causes of poor hair health. You can’t change your genetics but you can definitely ensure that you prevent any external damage that makes your hair health worse.
Magic pills and potions are not going to take care of these problems, therefore, make an attempt to protect your hair in every way you can instead of burning a huge hole through your wallet buying expensive drugs, hair enhancing tools and products and investing in hair transplants.