Top 5 Vitamins to Boost Hair Growth for Men and Women
Learn how to increase your hair’s health and prevent hair loss with these essential vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin D, collagen, and more.
Hair loss is a more common problem than most people would like to admit. Androgenic alopecia, better known as pattern baldness, affects half of men and a quarter of women over the age of 50. In this post, we’ll explore some of the best vitamins for supporting healthy hair and promoting hair growth.
What Causes Hair Loss?
The most common type of hair loss is androgenic alopecia. This type of hair loss affects millions of men and women around the globe. It’s most common in men, affecting men at about double the prevalence of females. However, that doesn’t mean that androgenic alopecia is rare among women — it occurs at a prevalence of about 25% for women in menopause.
Do Hormones Cause Hair Loss?
Whether you’re male or female, the primary cause for androgenic alopecia is a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is an androgen, meaning it’s in the class of hormones that regulate masculine physical characteristics like depth of voice and the development of male genitalia. However, women’s bodies contain DHT, too – just in lower levels than males.
DHT plays an important role in the body’s development during puberty. However, this hormone starts to cause problems when its levels increase later in life. Excessive DHT production in your body often leads to the shrinking of hair follicles paired with a disruption in your hair’s growth cycle. That disruption decreases the amount of time your hair spends growing and increases the amount of time it spends in its resting phase, and with the follicles already smaller than they used to be, the hair can both appear thinner and be more likely to fall out.
What Does Androgenic Alopecia Look Like?
Hormone-related hair loss usually has a distinct appearance. For men, androgenic alopecia usually causes a bald spot to appear at the top of the head, along with a receding hairline. For women, the most significant hair loss and thinning usually happen around the “part” in the head where the two sections of hair divide.
While there’s a classic balding pattern that most individuals with androgenic alopecia have, the way the condition manifests still varies from person to person. Additional factors like your hair type, the way you grow and style your hair, and the amount of hair you have all impact the way your hair loss may progress.
What Are the Other Types of Hair Loss?
While it’s the most common type of hair loss by a long shot, androgenic alopecia isn’t the only condition that makes your hair fall out. Other types of hair loss include:
This type of hair loss usually develops after a high-stress event. Telogen effluvium is generally temporary and reversible, but it also tends to show up quickly. If you’ve been through a very stressful experience and then noticed your hair starting to fall out, you may be experiencing telogen effluvium. Reversing this condition usually starts with stress reduction, though you may consider speaking with a healthcare provider for additional guidance.
While still relatively common, alopecia areata is less common than androgenic alopecia. Like telogen effluvium, this type of hair loss can trace back to high-stress situations, though it is primarily attributed to the immune system attacking the hair follicles on the head. Alopecia areata usually manifests in the form of round bald patches that develop in different spots on the head.
Can Vitamins Help With Hair Loss?
It’s only natural to feel a little skeptical when it comes to hair loss solutions. After all, there are plenty of “miracle cures” for pattern baldness out there that really don’t help much at all. However, certain nutrients really can impact your hair’s health and get your growth cycle back on track, helping you to restore your hair to its former glory.
Below are the most science-backed vitamins to help support hair growth and overall hair health. If you suspect you may be lacking in any of the nutrients below, consult with a healthcare provider about your concerns and any symptoms you may be experiencing.
#1: Vitamin D
Your body produces vitamin D on its own in response to sun exposure. You’ll also get plenty of vitamins D2 and D3 from certain foods, including mushrooms, fortified grains, and animal products. However, developing a vitamin D deficiency is easier than you might think as we live in a world of being primarily indoors during the day, and it comes with some unwanted side effects – often including hair loss. If you’re deficient in vitamin D, you might notice your hair getting brittle and thin.
A vitamin D deficiency is treatable and reversible, but consulting with a healthcare provider is the first step to ensure there aren’t other underlying conditions that may be either causing hair loss or contributing to a vitamin D deficiency. In most cases of vitamin D deficiency, a quality vitamin D supplement is enough to restore you to normal levels. Once your vitamin D levels are back to normal, you may see your hair growth begin to improve.
Biotin is a member of the B-vitamin family, and it’s one of the most essential nutrients for healthy hair, skin, and nails. One of the hallmarks of a biotin deficiency is brittle hair that is more prone to falling out. Other signs that you might be deficient in biotin include brittleness in your nails and dullness in your overall complexion.
If you eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, you’re likely to have little trouble getting the biotin that your hair, skin, and nails need. However, a poor diet is one of the primary culprits in the development of a biotin deficiency.
Collagen isn’t a vitamin – it’s actually a protein – but your body’s production of this essential protein is essential for healthy skin, including the skin on your scalp. Collagen makes up the majority of your skin cells’ structure, and it provides your skin with strength and flexibility. A lack of collagen can impact scalp health just as much as it affects the rest of your skin, and an unhealthy scalp can contribute to thinning hair.
Stimulating collagen production is one way to promote healthier skin and hair. One of the best ways to promote healthy collagen levels is getting enough of key nutrients like vitamin C and biotin, both of which are essential for collagen production. In addition, you can also take isolated collagen supplements. However, these supplements are almost derived from animal products unless they are specifically marketed as “vegan collagen,” so they aren’t usually an option for those on a plant-based diet.
#4: Vitamin A
Just like biotin and vitamin D, vitamin A plays a key role in your hair’s ability to grow at a healthy, steady rate. A vitamin A deficiency can quickly lead to hair loss, as well as a variety of other problematic symptoms such as skin rashes and impaired vision.
To avoid developing a vitamin A deficiency, you can increase your vitamin A intake with the right fruits (cantaloupe and mango), vegetables (leafy greens), and other dietary sources (milk and fish oil). Vitamin A is also usually included as an ingredient in many quality multivitamins and vitamin wellness blends.
Zinc is a mineral that plays several important roles in maintaining your body’s overall health. It’s essential for a fully functional immune system, and proper levels of the mineral are also associated with healthy hair.
One of the telltale signs of a zinc deficiency is hair loss, along with several other symptoms, including:
- Feeling cold
- Stomach problems and constipation
- Getting sick more often
- Skin issues
Supplementing with zinc can be helpful if you develop a deficiency, but it may not be necessary if you can get enough of the mineral from dietary sources. That said, you’ll find zinc in whole grains, milk products, nuts, red meat and poultry, and eggs, so you may consider a supplement if you live a plant-based lifestyle.
If your hair is falling out, incorporating the right hair-healthy nutrients into your daily diet and wellness stack may prove beneficial in supporting hair growth. Vitamins D and A, biotin, collagen, and zinc can all help to support healthy hair growth, and they are all readily available both in the right foods as well as in supplement form.
If you’re starting to experience hair loss and need additional guidance on next steps, consult with your primary health provider or with a dermatologist — while boosting your nutrition can be helpful, many cases may also benefit from prescription medications like minoxidil or hair transplant procedures.