Hair becomes a very part of our daily outfit of the day. Keeping it well-groomed and styled is of an essence for both men and women. Is it said then that hair is a multidimensional window to the beauty within (1). For men, a well-kept, thick head of hair is an additive to his good looks. For women, hair is the first most noticeable part of the beauty they exude. The hair, to a certain extent, adds character to one’s personality, sets a unique tone of an entire look and even embodies one’s identity.

Going to hair salons gets our hair prepped and styled. But to keep them healthy is more crucial. Yes, our hair needs nutrients as much as our body. Keeping the hair healthy is therefore our concern. A bad hair day is just a bad day and we wouldn’t want that to happen. For hair growth, one of the most important things to consider is diet. A nutritious, balanced diet is one of the biggest factors that affects the health and growth rate of your hair (2).

Five essential vitamins for a healthier hair:

1. Fish oil.

Omega-3 fats nourish the hair, support hair thickening and reduce inflammation that can lead to hair loss (3). With its anti-inflammatory properties, it aids in opening up the hair follicles and in promoting hair growth, thereby making up for daily hair loss. Since it is a healthy fat, it prevents dry and flaky scalp. It is full of nutrients as well as proteins that assist in keeping the hair healthy by nourishing the hair follicles. Along with this, they also strengthen the hair roots ensuring that there is no hair fall. Simply, it leads to overall health and is important for ideal hair growth (4).

A study published in the “Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology” in 2015 reported that a supplement containing omega-3 fatty acids might help with hair thinning (5). In the study, women took the supplement for 6 months have shown to have experienced less loss of hair, and their hair also grew in thicker, growing thicker individual strands of hair, as well as growing more hair overall.

2. Vitamin A.

Vitamin A is very important for all cells in your body, which include hair cells, the fastest growing tissue in the human body. It is best for hair growth and thickness. This vitamin helps produce the natural oil sebum that moisturizes your scalp and helps to keep your hair healthy (6). It has antioxidant properties that nourish the scalp and prevent the hair from drying out, thus, it helps in repairing damaged hair and maintains your scalp moisturized and irritation-free by promoting the production of scalp oil. Yet this vitamin is also controversial since too much intake of this could cause you to lose your hair. Studies have shown that an overdose of vitamin A contributes to hair loss (7). Balance is key with vitamin A. Consume just the right amount to get all of the hair growth benefits.

Getting Vitamin A through the food you eat could be our best option to avoid overtaking it. It can be derived through red, yellow, orange and dark green vegetables like carrot juice for one. Other food sources are sweet potatoes, liver, egg yolk, milk, spinach, dried apricots, mangoes, liver, fortified milk and cereals. Always remember that eating a healthy and balanced diet will give us the Vitamin A our body needs.

3. Vitamin C.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin which provides many benefits for your body, one of which includes helping to treat and prevent hair loss. Vitamin C — ascorbic acid — can act as a mild clarifying agent in shampoo which removes mineral buildup accumulated on the surface of the hair and improves the ability of the hair to accept moisture, which makes it more soft and supple and more resistant to tangling and breakage (8). It is one of the most effective nutrients to help grow and strengthen hair and builds collagen, which is highly important for hair growth (9). A crucial role of this vitamin is it keeps our locks strong and healthy by absorbing iron.

Vitamin C contains antioxidant properties responsible for reducing damage that free radicals may cause. These free radicals form when your body converts food into energy and may harm your hair, possibly turning it brittle or weak. With Vitamin C your hair is protected from free radicals. Such vitamin can be found in a variety of food products such as cauliflower, lemons, guava, turnip greens, mango, strawberries, green peppers, spinach, blueberries, tomatoes, papaya, oranges, kiwi, pineapples, Brussels sprouts, winter squashes, blackcurrants, cantaloupe, watermelon, kale, broccoli, potatoes, red and green peppers (10), (11). Low intake of Vitamin C may result to a number of hair-related problems that affect our hair growth like dry hair and split ends (12).

4. Vitamin D.

Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is produced by the body as a response to sun exposure; it can also be consumed in food or supplements (13). Since hair follicles are highly sensitive to hormones, vitamin D is a hormone that plays an important role in calcium homeostasis, immune regulation and cell growth differentiation (14). A 2012 study in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine suggests that the vitamin can help create new follicles – little pores where new hair can grow – and improve the thickness of your hair or reduce the amount of hair loss you have (15). Vitamin D may also help “wake up” follicles that have become dormant, according to researchers at Harvard (16). Dormant follicles cause balding. Vitamin D is also a precursor to the hair growth cycle and it acts on the keratinocytes to initiate hair follicle cycling and stimulate hair growth (17).

To get Vitamin D, direct sun exposure is the best way to do it. But use sunscreen to protect your skin. One can also include Vitamin D-rich foods in your diet like halibut, mackerel, eel, salmon, whitefish, swordfish, maitake mushrooms and portabella mushrooms.

5. Vitamin E.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient that is available from several food sources and even as a supplement (18). Vitamin E supports a healthy scalp and assists with maintaining hair growth. With its antioxidant properties, it reduces the amount of oxidative stress and free radicals that cause the hair follicle cells in a person’s scalp to break down (19). In a small trial from 2010, this vitamin has shown to improve hair growth in people with hair loss (20). Another study supports its ability to improve scalp circulation. Vitamin E may increase blood flow, which is said to improve hair health (21). A vitamin E-rich oil can help replace that protective layer and bring back shine, supports the scalp and gives your hair a strong base to grow from by reducing oxidative stress and preserving the protective lipid layer (22).

Eating clean whole foods will help you have a diet that is rich in vitamin E and can get you  nutrients that are necessary for your body also. Have a healthy and balanced diet by making sure to include foods that are rich in Vitamin E like olive oil, nuts, sunflower oil, dark leafy greens, cereal, eggs, carrots and cabbage.

Final Thoughts

There are vitamins suggested for you to achieve a healthier hair. As you can see, most of these vitamins are derived from the food we eat. We must be vigilant of our food choices and make sure that we get the right nutrients our body needs. However, should we fail in our diet, supplements may be helpful. Yet, doctor’s advice is always important to determine if you have a vitamin deficiency or not and in order to know the right vitamin dosage to take. After all, too much of something is bad for our health.