Everyone wants their hair to grow faster and feel stronger, so it’s no surprise we’re all looking for that miracle pill or magic mask. Fortunately, we have something even better: science. While there’s no one size fits all solution to achieve healthy hair growth, maintaining a nutritious diet and making sure you’re getting key vitamins and minerals will improve the overall look, feel and health of your hair (not to mention the rest of your body). These hair vitamins are vital to hair growth and incorporating them into your lifestyle is easier than ever.
Taking biotin for hair growth might be one of the most popular ways to encourage healthy hair with vitamins. Vloggers everywhere sing this vitamin’s praises. Your best friend swears by it. It’s even added into many shampoos and conditioners, but what exactly does it do? Biotin is a B vitamin that helps produce glucose and break down proteins into amino acids. Hair contains keratin, which is a form of protein, so in addition to helping with many other vital functions, biotin supports healthy hair.
If you want to avoid taking supplements for hair growth, biotin is also found in many foods. For faster hair growth, make sure your diet is rich in whole grains, yogurt, oily fish, chicken, almonds, edamame, kidney beans, tofu, eggs and mushrooms. The one downside of this hair helper is that some report breaking out or flushing when they take biotin in high doses.
Like biotin, niacin is also in the B family, but this super hair helper deserves its own spot on the list. Niacin helps your hair grow faster by nourishing the scalp but a deficiency can cause hair to become brittle, lifeless and even fall out. Niacin is often found with its B vitamin sister biotin in B-complex vitamins. Many people take B-complex for hair loss, since the powerful combination of B vitamins is an effective treatment.
The major downside of taking these hair growth pills is flushing. If you find the supplements are too strong, just incorporate more niacin in your diet. Reach for mushrooms, avocado, chicken breast, tuna or turkey. Does anyone else want a sandwich right now?
#3: Folic Acid
Folic acid is often found in prenatal vitamins; this type of B vitamin is key for cell growth and helps prevent birth defects. It also helps with hair growth. Since folic acid plays an important role in cell turnover, it helps with hair regrowth. However, a deficiency can negatively impact the texture of your hair and slow down growth. Often, people on weight loss diets find they are deficient in this important nutrient. Try taking a supplement or incorporating more folic acid rich foods into your diet. Liver and dark leafy greens like spinach are full of folic acid and can help you meet your daily requirement.
#4: Vitamin E
If you’re wondering how to make your hair grow faster without taking supplements, try applying this one topically. Taking vitamin E oil for hair is an effective way to prevent oxidative stress, but for soft, shiny hair instantly, combine coconut oil with contents of two punctured vitamin E tablets for a quick DIY hair mask. Rub the treatment mask into your scalp, working from roots to ends for best results. Leave the mask on while you watch a couple episodes of your favorite web series and then rinse. To get more vitamin E through your diet, incorporate broccoli, avocado, seeds and almonds for even more hair growth benefits.
Technically, iron isn’t a vitamin—it’s a mineral. But that doesn’t make it any less important for healthy hair growth. Iron helps the red blood cells in your body carry oxygen to your cells, which makes it vital for overall health. An iron deficiency, which is more common in women (especially those on weight loss diets or who are menstruating), can cause exhaustion, anemia and hair loss. Fortunately, iron supplements and diet changes can help you ensure your body and your hair are getting the iron they need. Iron rich foods include red meat and oysters—but fear not, vegetarians because spinach is also a wonderful way to get iron in your diet.
#6: Vitamin A
Vitamin A is also an essential vitamin for hair growth, because it helps produce sebum (AKA natural oils) on the scalp, which can keep hair from drying out and breaking. However, it’s possible to get too much vitamin A, which can actually inhibit hair growth. To maintain the delicate balance, take a vitamin every other day or get vitamin a through your diet. Dark leafy greens, carrots and melons are packed with this vitamin.
#7: Vitamin D
Vitamin D, known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is essential to hair growth and overall health, but nearly 85 percent of Americans simply aren’t getting enough of it. Walking around in the sun for 15 to 20 minutes is one way to boost vitamin D levels each day but when you’re stuck with cloudy weather taking a supplement can keep your hair healthy and strong by promoting follicle growth. You can also add vitamin rich foods, like salmon and tuna, eggs, milk and mushrooms to your diet.
Zinc doesn’t just boost your immune system on those long red eye flights. This vitamin is also a must for healthy hair growth. A zinc deficiency can throw your hormones off balance, mess with your digestive health and weaken your immune system. It can also make your hair look a little lackluster. Taking a zinc supplement or introducing more zinc to your diet with foods like chickpeas, garlic, spinach, yogurt and pumpkin seeds is a great way to keep your hair shiny and healthy as you grow it out.
#9: Vitamin C
Like zinc, vitamin C has more uses than just boosting your immunity and protecting against colds. This vitamin can also make your hair stronger and help it grow. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, so it fights free radicals that can damage your hair, leaving it weak and brittle. This vitamin also helps the body produce collagen, which is vital for healthy nails, skin, and hair. While taking a vitamin C supplement is certainly helpful, this vitamin is best digested when consumed in your diet. Load up on kiwi, oranges, broccoli, papayas, bell peppers, brussel sprouts and kale for a vitamin C boost.
Magnesium isn’t technically a vitamin, but this mineral is a must for anyone trying to grow longer locks. Magnesium helps the body function in a variety of important ways, but a whopping 80 percent of Americans are deficient in this vital nutrient. A magnesium deficiency can cause high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, heart problems, osteoporosis, diabetes, chronic fatigue and rapid aging. On top of all that, it also affects our hair.
A deficit in magnesium causes hair loss since our hair follicles need this mineral for strength. Leave a deficit untreated for too long, and it can even lead to balding. Fortunately, there are many ways to introduce more magnesium. Nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin seeds) contain loads of magnesium. Dark leafy greens like spinach and swiss chard are also a great way to get this nutrient. If all else fails, take a magnesium supplement or introduce it topically by taking a magnesium rich Epsom salt bath.
If you’re thinking about taking vitamins for hair growth, it’s always a smart idea to talk to a doctor before introducing supplements, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions. However, incorporating these key vitamins and minerals through diet is one step anyone can take for healthier locks. Which vitamins have you tried?