Medically reviewed by
Diana Morgan, MS, CISSN
4 min read
If you’ve read anything about hair loss, it was probably targeted towards men, who are often the only ones that hair loss articles and products are geared towards. But the reality is that hair loss affects both men and women, at all stages of life. The causes can be intrinsic, think genetics or hormones, or they can be extrinsic: things like nutritional deficiencies and oxidative stress.
If you’re losing hair due to intrinsic factors, supplements might not be very helpful for you. But the good news is that extrinsic factors (the ones we can address more easily) are much more common than most people realize, and proper supplementation can help. But first thing’s first, let’s break down what we mean when we say extrinsic factors.
We all know that a balanced diet is key for overall health and wellbeing, but it’s also essential for strong, healthy hair. Ideally, your diet should be made up of a balance of protein and leafy greens, but even the best diets can still have gaps. Finding the right supplements to support your overall health can help you make sure your bases are covered.*
Our bodies are like finely tuned machines with many moving pieces all working together, and keeping everything in balance is critical for overall health.
Our environments are filled with something called free radicals, which are molecules with an uneven number of electrons. Because of this, free radicals are often referred to as unstable. That’s where antioxidants come in: antioxidants can give free radicals a spare electron, which neutralizes them, without becoming unstable themselves. Think of it like one friend giving another a slice of their apple.
This process is called oxidation, and it occurs naturally in our bodies. But if we have an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants, the unstable free radicals can do damage to fatty tissue, lipids and protein, which are the major building blocks of our hair.
So, what’s the best way to support long, healthy hair when it comes to these external factors? Here are six of our favorite vitamins and supplements that can help keep hair thick and full.
If you’ve looked into hair growth vitamins in the past, you’ve probably run across biotin, also called B7, or vitamin H. Biotin helps the body break down protein, which is essential for hair and nail growth.
Most people get their biotin naturally through meat, so vegans and vegetarians are at particular risk for deficiency and may benefit from a B7 vitamin.
We already know the balance between free radicals and antioxidants is important to hair health, since an excess of free radicals can damage hair. Vitamin C has powerful antioxidant properties that can help limit oxidative stress from free radicals. Our bodies also use vitamin C to produce collagen, which is a protein that plays an essential role in hair structure.
If you’re struggling with hair loss as a symptom of anemia, you might also consider taking vitamin C, since it can help support iron absorption.
Recent studies have shown a connection between vitamin D deficiency and hair loss, and vitamin D deficiency is a common problem throughout the U.S. Vitamin D deficiency affects an estimated 1 billion people worldwide. Research has shown that incorporating vitamin D into your routine can help promote follicle growth, which is why it’s one of our top vitamins for healthy hair.
Our greatest natural source of vitamin D is sunlight, but it can be hard to get enough just through sun exposure alone — think clouds, buildings, and clothing. Taking vitamin D regularly can help ensure you’re giving your body what it needs to stay healthy.
Our bodies use iron to help red blood cells carry oxygen, and one of the major symptoms of iron deficiency, particulary in women, is hair loss. While iron is an essential part of a healthy diet, we recommend speaking with your doctor before adding an iron supplement to your diet, since it may not be necessary if you do not have a deficiency.
Zinc is often cited for its immunity-supporting benefits, but it’s also been researched for its positive impact on hair growth and repair. Zinc deficiency can lead to hair loss, so if you’re not getting enough through diet alone, supplementing can help.
While most people associate protein with muscle growth and development, it’s also what makes up most of our hair. Protein is a macronutrient, which means that, unlike vitamins and minerals, our bodies require large amounts of it.
If you don’t get much protein through your diet, incorporating a protein powder can help ensure you’re giving your body what it needs to help support strong muscles, hair, and nails. For more information on protein and how it works in the body, check out our article, “Protein Powder 101.”
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