Healthy-looking lustrous hair is a sign of health and beauty. Just like any other part of the body, our hair too needs numerous nutrients to stay at its best health.(1)
Various nutritional deficiencies are linked with hair loss. Eating healthy and a well-balanced diet helps in hair growth and also makes them less brittle.
Essential Vitamins For Hair
Vitamin D may not be directly linked with hair growth but its deficiency surely impacts hair health.
In fact, it is believed that symptoms of alopecia areata are more in people with low levels of vitamin D deficiency.
Some studies show, low levels of vitamin D to be associated with female pattern hair loss, the most common type of hair loss in females.(3)
The most important source of vitamin D is sun rays. Other are the dietary sources which include:
- Fatty fishes
- Cod liver oil
- Fortified foods
B vitamins called biotin, folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, and cobalamin are the best-known vitamins for hair.
The deficiency of biotin is linked with hair loss in humans.(4) Its deficiency is rare as it is available widely in many foods.
B vitamins create red blood cells that help in carrying oxygen and nutrients to the scalp and hair follicles and help in hair growth.
The foods rich in B vitamins include:
Not having any studies in support of it but it is believed that the deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to hair loss.
The deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to anemia and fatigue and anemia is linked with hair loss.(5,6) Vitamin B12 can be obtained only from animal food, therefore vegetarians should consider taking supplements for it. Before taking any supplement, it is important to take a doctor’s advice as they can interfere with the effects of medications.
Vitamin E is an essential and powerful antioxidant in the body. It is found that people suffering from alopecia areata are deficient in this vitamin.(7) A study found people suffering from hair loss experienced improvement after supplementing with vitamin E for a few months.(8) Sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, and avocadoes are a few good sources of vitamin E.
Iron plays a role in helping red blood cells to carry oxygen to the cells. It is a very important mineral for many body functions. Iron deficiency leads to anemia, which is a major cause of hair loss, most commonly in women.(6,9) Oysters, eggs, meat, spinach, lentils, and clams are a few foods that are high in iron.
Zinc has a role to play in the repair and growth of hair tissue and it keeps the oil glands around the follicles working. Zinc deficiency leads to hair loss.(10,11) Resolving zinc deficiency can help reduce hair fall. It is better to get zinc from the foods rather than supplements as an excess of the vitamin can have adverse effects on the body. Foods rich in zinc include oysters, beef, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, and lentils.
Hair is made up of protein and keeping up with it in the diet is essential for hair health. Animal studies show that deficiency of protein leads to hair loss and also decreases hair growth.(12)
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help in reducing oxidative stress caused by free radicals. It is required by the body to create collagen, a protein that is important for hair structure. It also helps the body to absorb the iron that is essential for hair. Sources of vitamin C include red peppers, leafy greens, and citrus fruits.
Foods are the best sources of any vitamin. Only if you fail to get enough from the diet you should think of supplementing them. Supplements are known to work best for those who are already deficient in a certain vitamin and a required dose can be consumed at a time.
Large doses of vitamins can be harmful especially in those who do not have any deficiency.
The best way to keep the level of vitamins and minerals up to the mark is to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of nutrient-dense foods.
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