Do hair growth vitamins work?
Vitamins or herbal supplements for hair growth are often used to promote healthy hair growth and regrowth. Hair loss and damage can occur due to genetics, hormones (pregnancy), medications (cancer medication) and other medical illnesses (stress, thyroid disease or autoimmune diseases). If there is hair loss or hair damage associated with a serious nutritional deficiency of certain vitamins or minerals, hair growth supplements can help with hair growth or regrowth. The vitamins in hair growth supplements also help maintain overall body health. Alongside hair vitamins, a healthy and balanced diet is also required. If damaged hair is caused due to other conditions, hair growth supplements would not be sufficient to treat the problem. So, it is always important to consult with a doctor when one is experiencing significant hair loss.
What are hair growth vitamins?
Some important supplements or vitamins that help hair growth are
- Vitamin E nourishes the skin, nails and hair and protects the skin and hair from sun damage. Rich sources of vitamin E include plant-based oils, seeds, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
- Zinc can regulate the level of DHT (dihydrotestosterone) in the body, a hormone that can cause hair loss. A decrease in zinc levels causes an increase in DHT, which can cause hair loss. Sesame seeds, nuts, eggs and fish are rich in zinc.
- Iron is essential for hair growth. Low iron levels lead to anemia. Low iron levels affect the hair follicles and disrupt the growth cycle of the hair, leading to hair loss. Rich sources of iron include lentils, red meat, spinach or green vegetables.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant that aids in the formation of collagen. Vitamin C also helps with iron absorption. Rich sources of vitamin C include kiwis, sweet potato and citrus fruits like oranges.
- Vitamin D is important for healthy hair follicle production, which promotes hair growth. Vitamin D also helps relieve stress and depression. It is found in eggs, oily fish and mushrooms.
- Vitamin A helps form sebum, which is required to keep the scalp and skin conditioned and healthy. A decrease in sebum due to Vitamin A deficiency causes the scalp to become dry, irritated, itchy and flaky. It also causes the hair to become dry, brittle and break easily. However, it must be remembered that higher than normal vitamin A consumption can also cause hair loss. Vitamin A is found in orange or yellow vegetables like carrots.
- Amino acids are essential for healthy hair growth. Amino acids help produce keratin, which promotes hair growth and nourishes and improves hair texture. Amino acids are protein building blocks found in foods like dairy, meat and eggs.
- Omega-3 fatty acids produce oils that keep the skin, nails and scalp healthy and hydrated. Fish, avocado and pumpkin seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin, which is also called vitamin H or coenzyme R. Biotin increases nail and hair strength and texture.
How long do hair supplements take to work?
Taking hair growth supplements does not produce results overnight. It usually takes a very long time to see obvious hair growth. Normally, hair grows only half an inch a month, so even after taking supplements it would take 5 to 6 years for a new strand of hair to reach shoulder length.
However, there are several other changes in the hair that can be seen. After a few months of taking supplements, the oil glands on the scalp get reactivated, which moisturizes and nourishes the scalp and hair. The hair starts to appear shinier, more moisturized and healthier. The hair may not be as brittle as it used to be, reducing hair breakage.
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