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The average human has 100,000 hairs on their head1 and vitamins and minerals play an important part in the normal hair follicle cycle2. If you find yourself wishing you had fuller, shinier or healthier hair then you are not alone. Healthy hair is often a reflection of general good health. Factors affecting the balance of good nutritional health include recent illness, stress, problems with absorption of nutrients, advancing age, medication use and genetic factors. All of these things can affect hair growth and the good news is that often they are modifiable. If you have noticed changes in your hair then think back over the last 3-6 months to see if there is anything that might be contributing to this change.

Please note that for those concerned by hair loss you should consult your doctor as you may need further testing to help establish a cause. Visit the NHS website to learn more about hair loss.

Do I need to take hair supplements?

Vitamins and minerals are important for healthy hair follicles and may affect hair health when they are at lower levels. However, it is important to know which vitamins and minerals are helpful in supporting healthy hair. Supplements are only intended to provide support to a healthy diet and lifestyle. If you have a poor nutrient intake or a health issue that is affecting your hair growth then a hair supplement will only act as a band aid. You should always consider your diet and lifestyle alongside any supplements that you take.

How do supplements for hair growth work?

Supplements for hair growth work by providing the building blocks for strong healthy hair and hair growth processes. This can include B vitamins, certain antioxidants, vitamin D and iron along with the amino acids that help to form hair and omega-3 for the hair structure. Hair grows at a rate of 1.3cm per month so changes in hair growth can take a while to be noticed. Supplementation with key nutrients can help to support healthy hair growth over time.

Are hair supplements for men and hair supplements for women different?

The simple answer here is that men’s hair supplements and women’s hair supplements aren’t necessarily different as they use the same building blocks and processes. However, there may be slightly different mechanisms that are contributing to hair health in men and women. Changes in testosterone bi-products can affect hair growth so supporting hormone balance is important. These changes can happen in both men and women. Additionally, women may find that they notice hair changes during menopause or with significant hormone events such as pregnancy. You should always consider whole body health when supporting hair growth.

What are the best supplements for Hair Growth?

The best supplements for hair growth include multiple vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to support hair growth directly. Supplementation with these, in theory, should support hair growth and this is particularly true for the mineral iron so if you are concerned by the health of your hair then speak to your doctor to get your iron levels checked. Nourishing nutrients that support hair texture include amino acids and fatty acids.

Vitamin B

The vitamin B complex comprises of eight water soluble vitamins which can all support healthy cell metabolism. In particular research has identified that biotin, which is found in dietary protein and sometimes known as B7, can be important for hair growth. Eating good quality protein and ensuring proper digestion can be helpful in ensuring adequate biotin.2

Iron

Healthy iron levels are linked to hair growth so ensuring that you have adequate iron levels is crucial. Low iron is the most common nutrient problem in women, with menstruation being the biggest cause of iron loss in women of premenopausal age. It is important however, not to supplement iron if you don’t need it so it is recommended to speak to your doctor before supplementing with iron.

Collagen

Adequate dietary protein is important to hair growth. For those looking for additional support then you can use collagen supplements to provide the amino acids that form the structure of hair.

Pine Bark

Antioxidants are important to hair growth and a recent study has shown that supplementation of French pine bark extract was shown to support hair density in women who have undergone menopause3. This potent antioxidant was believed to work by supporting healthy scalp microcirculation.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for healthy hair follicles and for normal hair growth, and low levels of vitamin D have been linked with changes to hair growth. Studies show that supplementing vitamin D in the diet of those with low levels can support healthy hair growth.2 As vitamin D levels are commonly low in the UK we recommend that you have your vitamin D levels checked and consider vitamin D supplementation if needed as part of your hair health plan.

Omega-3

Omega-3 is commonly low in the typical western diet and has been linked to changes in hair structure although the exact mechanism remains unknown.2 Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish and nuts and seeds. Those who are struggling to consume enough omega-3 in their diets may choose to take an omega-3 supplement.

References:
1. Wall D, Meah N, Fagan N, York K, Sinclair R. Advances in hair growth. Fac Rev. 2022 Jan 12;11:1. doi: 10.12703/r/11-1. PMID: 35156098; PMCID: PMC8808739.
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6380979/
3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36620515/

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