Hair loss can be caused by several factors, including:
- Medical conditions
- Medication you may be taking
Certain factors such as genetics and age cannot be controlled, however, taking the right vitamins can play a part in minimising hair loss and promoting healthy hair growth. When you are deficient in vitamins, your body produces a response to conserve energy. One of the first processes that is sacrificed to conserve energy is hair growth, causing the hair follicles to remain in the resting phase for longer than usual. It is essential to nourish your body with essential vitamins to prevent this from happening.
BOTTOM LINE: A lack of vitamins can contribute to hair loss. Certain vitamins such as vitamins A, B, C, D and E can work to reduce hair loss and promote healthy hair growth. Deficiencies in these vitamins can be supplemented by a healthy diet, or by taking vitamin supplements.
What vitamins prevent hair loss?
Biotin is a B-vitamin which helps the body convert food to energy. In fact, the word “biotin” derives from the Green work “biotos”, which means “sustenance” and “life”. This is not a coincidence given that biotin can help to restore life into your hair, promoting healthy hair that can be sustained. Keratin is a protein that helps to strengthen hair and prevent damage to hair follicles. Biotin works by helping to produce keratin. Studies have shown that Biotin promotes hair growth, as well as reduces the rate at which hair is lost. Biotin can be found in naturally foods such as eggs, nuts and meat. If you are not able to get enough biotin naturally, you should take a biotin supplement. The recommended amount of biotin is 100mcg daily. Biotin is water soluble and difficult to overdose on as excess biotin is excreted in urine.
BOTTOM LINE: Biotin can help with hair loss and can help to produce hair that is thicker. It works by preventing damage to hair follicles and strengthens hair to prevent it from falling out. Sources of biotin include nuts, eggs and meat.
Vitamin A helps hair growth and reduces hair loss by helping glands in the scalp produce an oily substance known as sebum. Sebum helps to keep the scalp moist, which in turn, promotes hair growth and stops hair loss. However, too much vitamin A can cause hair loss. Excess vitamin A can cause over stimulation of hair follicles, causing hair to reach the end of the growth phase quicker than usual, resulting in hair loss. This can cause your hair to thin and fall out. There is a fine line between getting the right amount of vitamin A and having too much. You should only take vitamin A if you have been advised by a healthcare professional that you are not getting enough from your diet. Foods rich in vitamin A include sweet potatoes, spinach, oily fish and eggs.
BOTTOM LINE: A lack of vitamin A can cause hair loss. However, too much vitamin A can also cause hair loss by causing hair follicles to reach the end of the growth phase at a faster rate. It is important to find the right balance through a healthy diet.
The damage from free radicals (harmful molecules in the body), can damage hair follicles causing hair to fall out. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that reduces the stress placed on hair follicles by free radicals. A lack of vitamin C can also cause anaemia, a side effect of which is hair loss. An added benefit of vitamin C is that it produces collagen, an amino acid which acts as a building block for thick and healthy hair. Foods rich in vitamin C include peppers, guavas, broccoli and citrus fruits.
BOTTOM LINE: Damage from free radicals can prevent hair growth and vitamin C is an antioxidant which helps to protect against the damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin C also helps to produce collagen which supports healthy hair growth.
Vitamin D helps to reduce hair loss by stimulating the development of hair follicles, improving hair growth. Hair follicles are important, as they are the small holes on the skin that hair grows from. New hair follicles can help to sustain thickness and stop existing hair loss. A lack of vitamin D can cause hair to thin and shed. In fact, research suggest that vitamin D deficiency can cause alopecia, a condition which causes patchy hair loss. The best source of vitamin D is from sunlight. During months where sunlight is limited, you should look to other sources such as oily fish, eggs and red meat. If you are unable to gain an adequate amount of vitamin D from your diet, you can take a supplement. It is recommended to take around 15 micrograms (mcg) or 600 international units of vitamin D.
BOTTOM LINE: Vitamin D can help with hair loss by encouraging the production of new hair follicles and activating existing hair follicles. There is a link between vitamin D deficiency and alopecia, a condition which causes hair to fall out in small patches.
Vitamin E can help to increase blood flow to the scalp, stimulating hair follicles to produce healthy hair. It also works to create a barrier of protection the surface of the scalp, locking in moisture to prevent a dry scalp. An unhealthy scalp can affect the quality of hair, and vitamin E works to provide a strong base for hair to grow from, by maintaining the protective layer. Vitamin E is also a powerful antioxidant, which can stop oxidative stress. Studies have shown that people experiencing hair loss saw a 34.5% increase in hair growth after taking vitamin E for 32 weeks. The group that did not take vitamin E saw a 0.1% increase. Vitamin E is found in vegetable oils, nuts and green leafy vegetables.
BOTTOM LINE: Vitamin E can help to prevent hair loss by improving scalp circulation, providing moisture to the scalp and by preventing oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Research strongly suggest that vitamin E helps to improve hair growth
Do vitamins help with hair loss?
Vitamins can help to prevent hair loss that is caused by a bad diet. Poor nutritional intake cause hairs in the “growing” stage to enter into the “resting” phase earlier that they should. This causes hair to fall out prematurely, resulting in excess shedding of hair. Incorporating the right hair loss vitamins and minerals can help to promote hair growth and reduce shedding.
Hair loss can also be a side effect of medication or medical treatment (including chemotherapy). If your hair loss is caused by issues to do with your health, you should visit your GP, as it is unlikely vitamins will work.
Genetics play the biggest part in hair loss, especially in men. It is the most common cause of hair loss, for which there is no cure. In men, this is known as male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia). Hair loss treatments such as finasteride, can help to reduce the rate at which hair is lost, as well as helping to regrow hair. Finasteride works well and is used by many men worldwide, however, it will only work for as long as you take the medication.
SUMMARY: Hair loss vitamins such as Biotin and vitamin A, C, D and E are essential for providing nutrients to prevent hair loss. Supplementing your diet with these hair growth vitamins can help to stop hair loss in both women and men.