Saturday August 20 2022
By now we all know the rules, keep direct heat to a minimum, don’t wash your hair every day and eat a balanced diet and all this will go a long way to promoting healthy hair. But what about supplements? What exactly can they help with? And which one, in a sea of different supplements, is the best one? To help you choose the right supplement, let’s dive into some details.
Vitamin A helps the cells grow and since hair cells are the fastest-growing cells in the human body, it is of course a main player in hair health. However, the benefits are not just to the hair cells themselves but also to the scalp which produces sebum with the help of Vitamin A. Sebum is the oil substance that helps lubricate and moisturise the scalp. Vitamin A is so vital to hair health that a deficiency of it can lead to hair loss, however taken in excessive quantities (1) can also lead to the same issue.
As with all vitamins, a healthy and balanced diet is more important. Sources of Vitamin A can be found in a variety of foods including milk, eggs and yoghurt. Foods such as carrots, pumpkin, kale and spinach are beneficial too as they contain beta-carotene which the body converts into Vitamin A after it has been consumed. However, if you find you are not getting the right amount of Vitamin A from your diet, supplements can be helpful.
Many people associate “Vitamin B” with a single vitamin despite the reality being that there are eight different B Vitamins, each with their own functions in your body, and together they are known as the Vitamin B Complex. These vitamins are widely available in nutritional supplements and offer a range of different benefits for not only your hair health but also your overall health.
The eight different B Vitamins are thiamine (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Vitamin B3), Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5), Vitamin B6, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Folic Acid (Folate) and Vitamins B12. Together the Vitamin B Complex plays numerous vital roles, one which includes helping enzymes to function and another which includes breaking down essential nutrients that fuel your body and keep you healthy.
Although the Vitamin B Complex is important, we will focus on the biotin (Vitamin B7) for hair health. Whether or not you’ve taken nutritional supplements previously, you will have most likely heard of biotin used for hair support. Biotin helps the body convert proteins, fats and carbohydrates into energy production. However, in recent years, Biotin has become even more popular because many people claim that the supplement can help slow and reverse hair loss by strengthening thinning hair and regrowing lost hair. So, does it actually work? Dermatologist Wilma Bergfeld, MD (2) says, “We find biotin to be very helpful for hair disorders.” She also goes on to state that it’s primarily used for alopecia (hair loss that can affect the scalp or entire body, which can be temporary or permanent). Dr. Bergfeld further explains, it’s primarily used for alopecia, the medical word for hair loss in men or women. “Biotin improves hair growth and helps with inflammation,” she says. “The hair follicle, the skin and the nails all benefit.” Alongside this, a 2016 study published by the International Journal of Trichology (3) found that 38% of people complaining of hair loss were actually deficient in biotin.
Perhaps the most commonly known vitamin, Vitamin C is attributed with all kinds of properties, while some being accurate others are not. The most accurate property attributed to Vitamin C is that it is an antioxidant. This means that it blocks the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms (4) that can damage cells and in this case block hair growth and cause your hair to wither at a greater pace leading it to appear old and unhealthy. However, Vitamin C is found to counteract this.
Vitamin C also assists in the process of collagen production. Collagen is the key part of the structure of hard body parts including nails, teeth and hair. It can also help the body to absorb and retain iron which is needed for healthy hair growth.
As you may be aware, a great source of Vitamin C can be found in oranges however it can also be found in your day-to-day meals from ingredients such as broccoli, peppers, strawberries, tomatoes which provide the correct amount of vitamin C. If any of those don’t appeal to you, then why not try Vitamin C supplements? A quick and easy way to get your fix whilst making it tasty.
Alongside Vitamin B, Vitamin D plays an important role in the development of alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition (5), and pattern baldness, a genetic condition (6), which are two specific types of hair loss.
Vitamin D works by binding to Vitamin D receptors found in all kinds of cells within the body, including immune cells and more importantly in this case, hair follicles. Vitamin D helps to regulate cell cycles, which is important when it comes to hair growth. For example, research (7) seems to show that hair follicle cycling in patients with alopecia are disrupted due to low levels of Vitamin D.
As always, your best source for Vitamin D comes from your diet with foods such as salmon, trout and white mushrooms providing rich sources of the vitamin. However, if you find that you’re still not getting enough vitamin D, you can find oral tablets, capsules and chewables readily available at your pharmacies and supermarkets.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that is required to regulate cell development and activity to ensure the healthy function of all organs in the body. The main reason why individuals need Vitamin E is because of its antioxidant and strong immune building properties. Along with making the skin more vulnerable to UV damage, a lack of Vitamin E can also influence the hair follicle cells and scalp tissue which can disrupt the normal hair growth cycle.
Vitamin E has grown in popularity over the past few years and rightly so. Here are some of the key benefits:
INCREASE CAPILLARY GROWTH AND BLOOD CIRCULATION – to promote active hair growth, the follicles need to be sustained with oxygen and nutrients. Ensuring good blood circulation to the scalp is the only way to deliver the nourishment that the follicles need to grow strong and thick hair. Vitamin E is essential for healthy scalp circulation since it widens the blood vessels and stimulates the capillaries to increase blood flow.
REDUCES CELL DAMAGE FROM FREE RADICALS AND OXIDATIVE STRESS – the potent antioxidant properties of Vitamin E help protect your scalp and preserve hair health. Hair breakage, frizziness, and dry hair can occur when the hair follicles and strands weaken due to exposure to free radicals, pollution, and other harmful compounds. The use of vitamin E products, such as oils, can reduce the build-up of oxidative stress on the scalp, which can sustain hair follicle activity to prevent excess hair fall and hair loss.
BALANCE SEBUM PRODUCTION IN THE SCALP – a little oil on the scalp is normal. Due to the active sebaceous glands attached to the follicles, you have natural oils that strengthen the hair roots and help keep the strands moisturised. However, excess oil can lead to symptoms such as itchy scalps and hair loss. The primary cause of increased oil production is overactive glands but with the use of vitamin E supplements, the imbalance in oil production can be tackled along with regulating the pH levels in your scalp. This is done through soothing the glands to stop the release of excess oil.
Selenium is a major nutrient that helps the body fight diseases. It is associated with numerous benefits since it is also an antioxidant and plays a role in keeping the metabolic functions of the body. It is also vital for healthy hair growth. But how does it work?
Enzymes are molecules, used for different chemical reactions of the body. Many enzymes use selenium to do their work for them, which makes them more reactive. Some enzymes help the body clean itself from free radicals. As we mentioned earlier, free radicals are very harmful to the healthy growth of hair and skin cells of the body since they play a major role in premature aging and weakening hair follicles. Selenium works for hair growth by getting rid of free radicals.
As always, selenium can be found, as part of a healthy and balanced diet, in foods such as whole grains, beef, tuna, egg, oatmeal and spinach.
Zinc is a travel mineral and is involved in many processes within the body including protein synthesis and this is important as hair is made almost entirely of protein. As with selenium, Zinc is also involved in keeping the oil glands around the hair follicles working properly.
There are many foods that are rich in Zinc, such as spinach, lentils and red meats, so a healthy and balanced diet is most important. However, if you find yourself lacking in Zinc, there are supplements readily available.
As mentioned throughout this article, there is no doubt that the best way to reach the optimum levels of vitamins and nutrients is through a healthy and balanced diet. However, if you feel that your diet may not be sufficient for you to benefit from the key nutrients that you require, supplements can be a great way to reach optimum levels of health. If you are unsure of whether you are deficient in any vitamin or nutrient, we would recommend speaking to your general practitioner as the only way to determine this is through blood tests.
Not sure about which supplement is best for your hair health? Here at Prym Health, we’ve worked closely with our manufacturing partners to create a chewable gummy supplement with key vitamins to help your hair health. For a limited time, we are offering readers 20% off this supplement with code HSN20. Be sure to leave us feedback on hair experience and like our Facebook page and Instagram page for more exclusive offers