When on the quest for the ideal head of hair, internal health is often severely overlooked. Nutrient deficiencies are a common cause that contribute heavily to poor hair health. Research is very consistent on the importance of several key nutrients for healthy growth, strength, and keeping follicles strong.
When it comes to genetic hair loss, there aren’t many products that deliver consistent results. However, millions of people have hair thinning for reasons that can be controlled. Reasons like toxic buildup on the scalp, low protein intake, mineral deficiencies, poor circulation, microbial imbalance, and much more. While studies show that many people all around the world suffer from deficiencies, which ones are the most important for hair?
Biotin is part of the vitamin B family (B-7) and is often low in people that have brittle hair. It is a critical nutrient for producing keratin, which is a foundational protein of hair. Without enough keratin production, it’s impossible to have strong and healthy hair. Oftentimes, people go years with biotin deficiencies without ever knowing it. Biotin may also play a role in follicle health and lowering inflammation.
Several studies on vitamin E have been surprisingly successful at improving hair thickness. Alpha-tocopherol won’t do much to help, but a combination of tocotrienols may be helpful when used long-term. A placebo-controlled study with a vitamin E extract showed an over 30% increase in hair growth after 8 months. Moreover, the placebo group showed no improvements. The study used a tocotrienol extract rather than the tocopherols found in most E supplements.
Iron deficiencies are quite common and can affect how red blood cells function in the body. Therefore, it is one of the most critical overall nutrients for healthy hair. Deficiencies can lead to anemia and poor oxygen distribution. Lack of oxygen and proper circulation can take a big toll on hair vitality over time. Oftentimes, women are more affected by hair loss than men from low iron levels.
Low zinc status can affect the oil glands surrounding hair follicles and also play a role in protein synthesis. When there’s a shortage of zinc, hair is prone to becoming weaker and more fragile. It’s important when taking any type of supplement not to overdo it. It’s best to limit daily supplementation to 20-30mgs and split the doses.
Deficiencies in iodine can profoundly impact thyroid hormonal output. Subsequently, hair follicles are negatively impacted because of the role these hormones play in follicle health. Iodine is one of the most overlooked nutrients for healthy hair. As a result, hair begins to thin and fall after many years of deficiency. The good news is that it’s treatable with supplementation. However, it does take 6 months to a year to really raise iodine levels that are very low. It’s important to get tested first and then supplement accordingly if needed.
B-12 & Niacin
Along with biotin, B-12 and niacin are very important nutrients for healthy hair. They play important roles in maintaining beautiful hair. When deficiencies set in, blood flow, oxygen, and other changes occur that weaken hair roots. Like biotin, these vitamins need to be supplied on a constant basis because they aren’t stored within the body.
Taking a large amount in the attempt to satisfy a possible deficiency isn’t the best way to go about it. Slow and steady wins the race. Being consistent by taking small amounts of good quality nutrients a couple times a day is ideal. In addition, including foods high in these nutrients on a more regular basis will help tremendously.
Low vitamin D levels that go on for many years can promote an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss. One study found that women who noticed symptoms of alopecia had low levels of vitamin D. Moreover, low vitamin D is also seen in other hair conditions unrelated to alopecia. Since vitamin D plays a role in follicle health, deficiencies can cause a gradual weakening effect.
Together, these are all incredibly important nutrients for healthy hair. The human body is an amazingly complex wonder that requires sufficient nutrients. Without them, internal processes suffer which is manifested outwardly. If you’re suffering with thinning or brittle hair, getting tested and supplementing may be extremely valuable to your hair and overall health.