8 Best Nutrients for Hair Growth

Many people view healthy-looking hair as a sign of health or beauty. Like any other part of your body, hair needs a variety of nutrients to be healthy and grow. In fact, many nutritional deficiencies are linked to hair loss. While factors such as age, genetics and hormones also affect hair growth, optimal nutrient intake is key. Below are 8 nutrients that may be important for hair growth.

1. Vitamin A

All cells need vitamin A for growth. This includes hair, the fastest growing tissue in the human body.

Vitamin A also helps skin glands make an oily substance called sebum. Sebum moisturizes the scalp and helps keep hair healthy (2Trusted Source).

Diets deficient in vitamin A may lead to several problems, including hair loss (3Trusted Source).

While it’s important to get enough vitamin A, too much may be dangerous. Studies show that an overdose of vitamin A can also contribute to hair loss (4Trusted Source).

Sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, spinach and kale are all high in beta-carotene, which is turned into vitamin A.

Vitamin A can also be found in animal products such as milk, eggs and yogurt. Cod liver oil is a particularly good source.

2. B-Vitamins

One of the best known vitamins for hair growth is a B-vitamin called biotin.

Studies link biotin deficiency with hair loss in humans (5Trusted Source).

Although biotin is used as an alternative hair-loss treatment, those who are deficient have the best results.

However, deficiency is very rare because it occurs naturally in a wide range of foods.

There’s also a lack of data about whether biotin is effective for hair growth in healthy individuals.

Other B-vitamins help create red blood cells, which carry oxygen and nutrients to the scalp and hair follicles. These processes are important for hair growth.

You can get B-vitamins from many foods, including whole grains, almonds, meat, fish, seafood and dark, leafy greens.

Additionally, animal foods are the only good sources of vitamin B12. So if you’re following a vegetarian or vegan diet, consider taking a supplement.

3. Vitamin C

Free radical damage can block growth and cause your hair to age.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect against the oxidative stress caused by free radicals (6Trusted Source).

In addition, your body needs vitamin C to create a protein known as collagen — an important part of hair structure.

Vitamin C also helps your body absorb iron, a mineral necessary for hair growth.

Strawberries, peppers, guavas and citrus fruits are all good sources of vitamin C.

4. Vitamin D

Low levels of vitamin D are linked to alopecia, a technical term for hair loss (7Trusted Source).

Research also shows that vitamin D may help create new follicles — the tiny pores in the scalp where new hair can grow (8).

Vitamin D is thought to play a role in hair production, but most research focuses on vitamin D receptors. The actual role of vitamin D in hair growth is unknown.

That said, most people don’t get enough vitamin D and it may still be a good idea to increase your intake.

Your body produces vitamin D through direct contact with the sun’s rays. Good dietary sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, cod liver oil, some mushrooms and fortified foods.

5. Vitamin E

Similar to vitamin C, vitamin E is an antioxidant that can prevent oxidative stress.

In one study, people with hair loss experienced a 34.5% increase in hair growth after supplementing with vitamin E for 8 months (9Trusted Source).

The placebo group had only a 0.1% increase (9Trusted Source).

Sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach and avocados are all good sources of vitamin E.

6. Iron

Iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen to your cells. This makes it an important mineral for many bodily functions, including hair growth.

Iron deficiency, which causes anemia, is a major cause of hair loss. It’s especially common in women (10Trusted Source11Trusted Source12Trusted Source13Trusted Source).

Foods high in iron include clams, oysters, eggs, red meat, spinach and lentils.

7. Zinc

Zinc plays an important role in hair tissue growth and repair. It also helps keep the oil glands around the follicles working properly.

Hair loss is a common symptom of zinc deficiency (14Trusted Source15Trusted Source).

Studies show zinc supplements reduce hair loss caused by zinc deficiency (16Trusted Source17Trusted Source).

However, there are some anecdotal reports that supplementing with too high of a dose can also contribute to hair loss.

For this reason, it may be better to get your zinc from whole foods. Foods high in zinc include oysters, beef, spinach, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds and lentils.

8. Protein

Hair is made almost entirely of protein. Consuming enough is important for hair growth.

Animal studies show that protein deficiency may decrease hair growth and even lead to hair loss (18Trusted Source19Trusted Source20Trusted Source).

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6 Tips for long and healthy Hair

Tips for long hair

How fast does hair really grow?

We are born with the total amount of hair follicles we will ever have over our lifetime. There may be about 5 million on our body, but our head has about 100,000 follicles. As we age, some follicles stop producing hair, which is how baldness or hair thinning occurs.The American Academy of Dermatology says that hair grows about 1/2 inch per month on average. That’s a grand total of about 6 inches per year for the hair on your head. Here are following 6 Tips for long and healthy hair

How fast your hair grows will depend on your:

  • age
  • specific hair type
  • overall health
  • other health conditions

Science has discovered a little bit about how hair growth is controlled at the cellular level in the body, but not enough to know how we can directly speed up hair growth. Read on to learn about the science behind hair growth and how to use that knowledge for healthier hair.

The stages of hair growth

Hair grows in three stages, and each strand of hair follows its own timeline. These three stages are:

  • anagen: active growth phase of hair that lasts 2-8 years
  • catagen: transition phase where hair stops growing, lasts 4-6 weeks
  • telogen: resting phase where hair falls out, lasts 2-3 months

The average scalp has 90-95 percentTrusted Source of the hair follicles in anagen phase. This means about 5-10 percent are in the telogen phase, which accounts for the 100-150 hairs that fall out every day.

Can you increase the anagen phase for hair growth?

How long the anagen phase lasts depends on how long your hair is and if the cells in your follicle base are continuing to multiply and become hair cells. Hair grows because matrix cells shed some of their structure as they reach the upper follicle. The shed structure combines with keratins to form hair strands that exit your skin’s surface.

Researchers are still looking into what triggers our bodies to “turn on” the anagen phases. But there are steps you can take to promote healthy hair during the anagen phase.

How to make your hair grow stronger

Hair is made up of keratin and dead skin cells. While there’s no direct method to make your hair grow faster overnight, there are steps you can take to keep your hair healthy and long. Talk to your doctor before trying supplements such as biotin, keratin, or other nutritional supplements. They may interact with medications and cause unintended side effects.

1. Keep up with vitamins and nutrients

While many companies promote vitamins or supplements for hair growth, they don’t always directly affect hair length. But the body does require a lot of energy to make your hair grow. Missing out on balanced meals and nutrients can affect hair growth.

It’s best to get your vitamins and nutrients from your diet, but supplements you may be interested in include:

Vitamin or nutrientDoes it work?Studies
omega-3 and 6may workIn a studyTrusted Source of 120 healthy females, the group who took omega-3 and -6 supplements had less hair loss and improved hair density.
zincmay only affect those with a zinc deficiencyZinc deficiencyTrusted Source plays a role in hair loss.
B-5 and biotinno evidence that it works for people who are not biotin deficientstudy that looked at oral supplements containing biotin and zinc found that they helped decreased hair shedding and improved hair quality and strength.
vitamin Canecdotal evidenceThe antioxidant effects of vitamin C may help prevent oxidative stress that causes hair to gray and thin out.
ironmay only work if you have an iron deficiencyInsufficient evidence for the relationship between iron deficiency and hair loss.
vitamin Dmay only work if you have alopecia, or hair lossOne study found that people with alopecia had vitamin D deficiencies.

2. Apply essential oils

One study showed that pumpkin seedTrusted Source increases hair count for men with hair loss by 40 percent.

Avoid applying essential oils directly to your skin. You can dilute the oil with a few drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil. Two other oils that may help include rosemaryTrusted Source and peppermintTrusted Source oil. While the trials have been animal studies, results suggest that these oils may benefit hair growth.

You can also mix these essential oils with other carrier oils that preventTrusted Source hair damage, such as:

  • coconut
  • sunflower
  • mineral
  • castor

3. Try topical ointments

Topical ointments are generally for people experiencing hair loss. They may help your hair grow. Studies show that these products are effective in treating alopecia, or hair loss, and promoting hair growth:

4. Take keratin supplements

There aren’t many studies on the effects of protein, keratin, and vitamins on hair health. One study looked at a product that had 500 milligrams of keratin and other vitamins and minerals. The group that took the supplement showed:

  • 12.5 percent reduction in hair loss
  • 5.9 percent improved in hair strength
  • improved hair brightness and luster

5. Use protein

Protein helps your hair grow and protect it from chemical and environmental damage. If you style or apply heat to your hair often, using a protein treatment can protect your hair. You can purchase these online or use coconut oil at home. Coconut oil helps reduceTrusted Source protein lost both before and after washing hair.

Too much protein can affect your kidneys. It may also cause your hair to become brittle, although this is rare. It’s best to get protein from your diet and not supplements. You can get protein from vegetables, nuts, yogurt, and other foods.

6. Caffeinate your follicles

Studies are still new on the effects of caffeine on hair growth, but a cell studyTrusted Source found that caffeine may have growth-promoting effects on hair. Using hair products with caffeine, like this shampoo by AB Crew, as an ingredient may help.

What factors can affect hair growth?

There are a few factors that can affect hair growth, including:

  • genetics or family history of hair loss
  • hormonal changes
  • lack of nutrition
  • medications
  • stress
  • trauma that damages follicles
  • other diseases or conditions

It’s also important to note that if you are experiencing unexplained and severe hair loss, you should schedule a checkup with your doctor, as certain illnesses and health conditions can cause hair loss.

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