An Up-Close Look at Why Vitamins Are Important for Hair Growth

Many people struggle with hair growth. Often, these same people have no idea how important it is for their hair that they get the proper nutrition. Vitamins A, B, C, D, and E all play a role in nurturing the scalp, hair follicles, and hair strands.
Hair grows in a cycle. Periods of growth (the anagen phase) can last for as long as seven years. During this phase, healthy hair will grow about a centimeter a month. Then follows a transitional phase (the catagen phase) that last for 10-20 days. Finally, the hair follicle rests (the telogen phase). In this phase, the hair not only stops growing, but falls out. A healthy hair follicle can rest for as long as three months before it returns to the growth phase.
And in this complicated cycle, different vitamins play different roles. So if you’re not taking in the essential vitamins with a balanced diet, your hair can suffer the consequences.

Lacking Vitamins Causes Dry Scalp

Part of having a healthy head of hair is creating a healthy environment for that hair to grow in. Missing certain essential vitamins in your food can drastically reduce the scalp’s ability to stay hydrated with the oils that thwart dandruff. In severe cases, a dry scalp contributes to excessive hair loss.
“Changing your diet is the best way to achieve better overall scalp health from the inside out.”
When vitamins and nutrients get into your system, they regulate your hormones and help everything function like it should. That includes the body’s ability to keep dry scalp at bay. Vitamin A actually helps the glands in your skin produce an oily substance known as sebum, which both moisturizes the scalp and helps balance its pH.

Vitamins Support Red Blood Cells

Red blood cells work super hard to keep your body – including your scalp – in good working order. Several vitamins support red blood cells, but B-vitamins are probably the most noteworthy. Biotin deficiency in particular is well known for its link with things like brittle nails and hair loss.
If you have a deficiency of vitamin B, there can be a shortage of red blood cells. Fewer cells overall means fewer cells taking oxygen and other important nutrients to your hair follicles and the skin of your scalp. This means that hair that should be growing probably will not (in technical terms, a hair follicle deprived of nutrients will enter the telogen phase prematurely, and stay in it longer than necessary). A lack of vitamin B can also create thin-looking hair by causing the hair to be brittle, and to break at a very short length. Healthy hair can grow to be 20 inches or longer – too much hair breaking shorter than this contributes to a thin look.

Free Radicals Are Neutralized by Some Vitamins

“Free radical” is a scary way of saying “uncharged, highly reactive molecule.” Free radicals have a place in the body, but too many can cause problems. If you have an excess of free radicals in your system, it can cause your hair to stop growing because the oxidative stress can damage hair follicles.
Several vitamins can help your body control the number of free radicals floating around. Vitamin C is particularly useful, because not only does it help control free radicals but it also supports the synthesis of the protein collagen. For context, collagen is what gives skin both its strength and elasticity – two hugely important attributes of healthy hair.

Oxidative Stress Is Prevented with Vitamins

Oxidative stress is an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in the body. We’ve already talked about how vitamin C can reverse oxidative stress. But it’s also important to know that vitamin E is great at helping to prevent it. And since we already know that oxidative stress can negatively affect hair growth, it should go without saying that we want to prevent oxidative stress!
Like vitamin C, vitamin E is well known for its ability to aid hair growth. For example, in one study on how tocotrienol (an antioxidant of the vitamin E family) supplementation affected hair growth, 21 participants given tocotrienol over the course of eight months saw more than a 34 percent increase
in the rate of hair growth.

Vitamins Support New Hair Follicles

So far in this article, we’ve mostly discussed how vitamins help hair in its cycle of growth and rest. But it’s also possible to get a fuller-looking head of hair by simply having more hair.
Some vitamins – such as vitamin D, according to Medical News Today – support the development of new hair follicles. And of course having more hair will help you look as though you have more hair! At the same time, not getting enough vitamin D could lead to thinning hair because follicles can also die – and once they’re completely dead, there is no known way to revive them.

What to Do If You Suspect Vitamin Deficiency Is Causing You Problems?

If you’ve noticed your hair is growing slower than usual, it may be time to take a discerning look at the nutrients you are putting in your body. If the foods you eat are void of essential vitamins, it could be the exact cause of your hair-growth problems.
One of the best ways to tackle the problem head-on is to ensure you actually do have a problem. Anything less than the typical 1 cm per month of hair growth – the average rate that human hair grows according to Science ABC – would be considered slow growth. Thankfully, helping your hair return to its normal growth rate is often as easy as eating a balanced diet, supplemented with the appropriate course of daily vitamins!