If you, like me, have ever taken vitamin supplements to help with healthy hair growth you will probably have already heard about the “B-vitamins.” These are a group of essential nutrients which are well renowned for health in general, but hair in particular. Each of the 8 vitamins have a number after the B.
Some of the vitamins are better known by their other name, like folic acid (B9), whereas others are better known by the number, e.g. vitamin B12.
(If anyone knows what became of B4, B8, B10 or B11 then leave a comment below!)
These vitamins play a crucial role in the production and maintenance of proteins in the body. Since your hair is a made from a protein (keratin) these vitamins are vital for healthy hair.
I already wrote a blog about the best foods for natural hair growth and strength but to summarize you get many of the B vitamins in eggs, milk, rice and whole grains as well as poultry meat and offal such as kidney, liver or tripe.
The main hair benefits of B vitamins include:
One reason for their role in hair growth is that folic acid and vitamin B12 are important for healthy red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body and help everything grow efficiently.
Dandruff and dry scalp have been linked to B vitamin deficiency and certain people with vitamin B7 deficiency get severe dermatitis (skin inflammation) and hair loss.
So if you have these issues, take a closer look at your diet, and if unsure seek help from a dietician or specialist nutritional expert.
Eggs & milk for breakfast anyone? Yes sirree. Bring on those whole oats too!
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When people talk about vitamin D deficiency they often talk about the health of teeth and bones. Vitamin D is required to absorb calcium and calcium is need for bone and teeth formation. However, vitamin D is also crucial for healthy hair.
What's the impact of not having enough vitamin D?
Hair and nails are relatively non-essential compared to organs like the liver, teeth and bones.
If your body is deficient in anything, it delivers the requisite nutrients to the most important organs first and if nothing is left after that for hair, nails and other less important bodily functions then tough!
How does a deficiency in vitamin D cause hair loss?
Hair growth involves three phases:
A deficiency in vitamin D causes a change in these phases with one or more being hindered or very short.
It's normal to lose 50 - 100 hairs per days so when you see a few hairs on your comb it's not usually a cause for concern, more than this and you should look into your overall health.
Which foods are rich in vitamin D?
How else can you get vitamin D?
1. Spend more time in the sun.
Vitamin D is naturally created by the body when one is exposed to sunlight. The amount of time you need to spend in the sun varies from person to person. The darker your skin, the more time you need to spend in the sun. A fair skinned white person can get all the sun they need in about 10-15 minutes of exposure to sun without any sunscreen on.
2. Take a supplement.
Because I live in cold, wet, cloudy London I decided this was necessary when I realised that my nails were looking cracked and unhealthy. I take a drugstore variety skin, hair and nails multivitamin (currently Boots) because it's far cheaper than the branded ones. On offer, I got 3 packs of 90 pills each for c.£22 when the 3 packs of a designer brand with 60 pills per bottle were going for £60 - also on offer! Thanks but no.
Apparently, having either too much or too little vitamin D can also lead to hair loss so getting the balance right is important. This is the best recovery-from-hair-loss story involving vitamin D that I have found on the internet.
I talk about vitamin D here but ultimately having a balanced diet make a big difference to your overall health including the health of your hair.
Other important nutrients for hair:
Also on diets, note that crash or liquid protein diets can lead to hair loss! So, when you want to lose weight using one of these methods keep in mind that you are more than likely choosing thinness over beautiful hair. The best solution is to permanently change to a better diet with gradual weight loss. I'll choose my hair any day!
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By Heather Katsonga-Woodward