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Beauty

The Big 5: Here are the Vitamins Our Hair Needs

Medical Director Dr. Hans-Georg Dauer

April 14, 2022

You need vitamins, dear.” Surely you’ve heard this phrase thousands of times. It’s no surprise that we constantly aim for our recommended doses of vitamins every day. After all, vitamins are real miracle workers. Even our hair is crazy about them!

Did you know that healthy nutrition is also reflected on the top of our head? That’s right, vitamins are our hidden guarantee for beautiful hair.

But what if we fail to give our body its daily dose of vitamins? Unfortunately, we have some bad news for you: a vitamin deficiency is very hard on the body. It fights back with hair breakage and hair loss. We can’t just take healthy hair growth for granted. We have to actively contribute to achieve it.

These vitamins sure do seem exciting, don’t they? That should be reason enough to take a closer look at them. What important role do vitamins play in our organism, how does a deficiency become noticeable, and what can we do about it?

Vitamin C – The Classic

Vitamin C immediately creates a good feeling in our stomachs. Absolutely justified, since this appraised nutrient works true miracles. It boosts our connective tissue, strengthens our teeth and solidifies our bones. It is also indispensable for healthy cell growth.

So, no wonder that this little all-rounder also has an influence on healthy hair growth. In fact, it is the most important vitamin for our hair roots. Without vitamin C, our hair looks quite flat – or rather, thin and drained. It seems it has been drained of its vitality.

What’s the secret of vitamin C’s success? For one, it stimulates blood circulation in the scalp. And the better the blood circulation in the scalp, the better the hair growth process. The nutrient supply runs like clockwork. Our hair roots get everything they need to grow and thrive. But that's not all: at the same time, vitamin C replenishes our body's iron supplies and actively helps with the hair roots’ metabolic processes. Hence, there is nothing to stop us from having strong and healthy hair soon.

Good to know: Want to increase the bioavailability of iron with plant sources and do something good for your hair? Then aim for foods high in vitamin C content, such as:

  • Broccoli
  • Green cabbage
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Parsley
  • Lemon
  • Black currants

Frequently asked: How much vitamin C should I consume per day? Very simple: For men, a dose of 110 mg of vitamin C is recommended, for women a dose of 94 mg. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers can have an increased intake, ideally 105 to 125 mg of vitamin C per day.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is the hair hormone “par excellence”. Did you know that the all-rounder, also known as retinol, ensures your hair is stunningly strong, supple and shiny as silk?

Retinol is a gentle stimulant for hair growth. But beyond that: it also contributes to fat synthesis in the hair follicles. All of a sudden, they work at full speed and provide us with fantastically voluminous hair.

If there is a deficiency of vitamin A in our body, sooner or later we will feel it on the top of our head. Why you ask?: it is not rare for retinol deficiency to disturb hair growth. This means that our hair is not working at full capacity. And the poorer its performance, the greater the risk of hair breakage and hair loss.

The hair vitamin in-demand is mainly found in liver, sweet potatoes, organic eggs and salmon. By the way: Beta-carotene, the precursor of retinol, is just as important and is mainly found in fruits and vegetables – especially in green cabbage, pumpkin, carrots, iceberg lettuce, spinach or peppers.

Frequently asked: Women benefit from a daily dose of 0.8 mg. Men cover their daily vitamin A requirement with about 1 mg. Children can easily get by with less: only 0.5 mg is enough to get their organism to work.

Vitamin B

Would you have thought that the B-vitamin group was important for hair growth? Not just that: it is in fact the most important vitamin group for healthy and strong hair.

Whether it’s vitamin B3, vitamin B5 or vitamin B6 – the entire B group ensures proper blood circulation in the scalp and stimulates the metabolic processes in the hair roots.

  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin): A small multi-talent that strengthens the hair structure, keeps sebum production under control and protects the scalp from inflammation.
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid): It is indispensable for cell division in the root of our hair follicles. Another plus: the vitamin prolongs greying of the hair. There is a reason why it is considered the vitamin of the youth.
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): It shows its great advantages in the metabolism of amino acids.
  • Vitamin B7 (Biotin): May we introduce you to one of the most valuable B vitamins? At last, it is vitamin B7, biotin or vitamin H. It has been proven to support the development and renewal of our hair structure. Did you know that most of our hair is made of the fibrous protein keratin, produced in the cells of the hair roots? And it is precisely this protein synthesis that biotin is actively involved in, effectively contributing to the health of our hair. A lack of biotin affects us even more severely. It is often the reason for hair breakage and hair loss. But not to worry: in the western world, a biotin deficiency is extremely rare.
  • Vitamin B9 (Folic acid): You really want your hair to shine and have fewer split ends? Then don’t miss out on vitamin B9 in your diet. Folic acid is involved in hair growth as well. After all, it supports the cell division of the scalp hair to enable it to grow back vigorously. At the same time, it acts like a protective shield for your scalp. It reliably protects it from inflammation. And the less inflammation, the better the hair growth.

So far so good. But where can I find these wonderful B vitamins? It’s simple: Rely on these sources of vitamin B plentifully to protect yourself from split ends, hair loss and other problems:

  • Nuts
  • Legumes (peas, beans, soybeans)
  • Wheat germ
  • Oatmeal
  • Meat & Fish
  • Eggs
  • Milk

Frequently asked: The daily dose varies for each B vitamin. An example? Well, let’s take a closer look at the recommended daily dose of vitamin B7. Adults should consume around 40 micrograms of biotin daily. For pregnant and breastfeeding women, 45 micrograms are ideal.

Vitamin D

Researchers at Cairo University have made a groundbreaking discovery: Not only vitamin C and vitamin A keep our hair healthy. Vitamin D, the vitamin of the sun, also contributes to healthy hair. The reason: it provides the hair with essential nutrients. And the more nutrients it has, the smoother, fuller and more vital it appears.

That’s why we should fear a vitamin D deficiency even more. It often causes hair breakage and hair loss.

Usually, our body can produce vitamin D by itself – provided it has enough sunlight available. However, if we do not get enough sunlight, our body will quickly develop a vitamin D deficiency. The risk is particularly high in winter, when sunlight is limited.

But, no need to worry: with the right diet, we can keep vitamin D deficiency from developing – even in the depths of winter. Here’s what we need to circumvent it:

  • Fish (e.g. herring, mackerel, salmon)
  • Cod liver oil (fish oil)
  • Mushrooms
  • Egg yolk
  • Margarine

Frequently asked: If the body cannot produce enough vitamin D on its own, a daily dose per adult of 20 micrograms per day is recommended. For infants, 10 micrograms of vitamin D is sufficient.

Vitamin E

No matter whether it’s in shampoos or hair oils – we will always find something regarding vitamin E on labels. No wonder, it truly is a blessing for our hair. First of all, this antioxidant-vitamin protects hair and scalp from harmful environmental influences such as polluted air or UV radiation. At the same time, experts often remark its positive influence on hair growth. Vitamin E is not considered the anti-hair loss hormone for no reason. But that’s not all: this super vitamin also promises our hair to truly shine and be stable. It even makes the ends and tips of our hair wonderfully soft and smooth – say goodbye to brittle hair.

Nice, but… how do I find this precious source of energy? It’s simple, consume these foods to ensure you’re on the right track:

  • Several vegetable oils lead to strong hair (wheat germ, sunflower, maize germ, soya or rapeseed oil)
  • Wheat germ
  • Nuts
  • Almonds
  • Soy
  • Tomatoes
  • Raspberries

Frequently asked: For adults, doctors advise a daily dose of 12 mg. For pregnant and breastfeeding women it is 17 mg.

What Other Nutrients Could My Hair Need?

It’s not just vitamins that are at the top of our hair’s must-eat list. The following nutrients are also in high demand:

Iron

Anyone who desires healthy and voluminous hair cannot avoid iron. This micronutrient is truly essential for healthy hair growth. It is often the main reason for hair loss. Its greatest benefit: iron takes care of the oxygen transport in the blood and is linked to important metabolic processes.

But don't panic: just because you have an iron deficiency doesn't mean that it’s permanent. You can replenish your exhausted reserves with iron-rich foods such as meat, lentils, soy or spinach. Is that not enough for your hair roots? Then iron supplements such as capsules, drops or pills are more often a good idea. However, you should always consult with your doctor – better be safe than sorry.

Frequently asked: Men are advised to take 10 mg of iron per day, women 15 mg per day. The reason for the increased iron requirement in women: During their periods they lose large amounts of blood and as a result, iron. The increase in dosage compensates for this loss. Otherwise there is a risk of iron deficiency, which takes its toll in the form of tiredness, exhaustion, paleness or dizziness.

Zinc

Zinc is at least as important as iron. This trace mineral actively supports our hair growth. How? Quite simply: it stimulates the production of collagen and keratin – two big players to ensure healthy and strong hair growth.

In other words, if there is a zinc deficiency, the production of collagen and keratin slows down. As a result, hair growth is inhibited and we are punished with variable hair loss.

This mineral is mainly found in beef and pork – as well as in fish, shellfish, eggs, milk and cheese. Other important sources of zinc are nuts, legumes and cereal products.

Selenium

Besides iron and zinc, selenium also has a positive effect on our hair condition. Above all, it functions as a protective shield. With all its strength, it keeps oxidative stressors such as chemicals and UV rays away from our scalp. Naturally, our scalp is healthier the less oxidative stress it is exposed to. Selenium has long been considered an insider's tip for brittle hair.

Lucky for us, this micronutrient is not hard to find. It is found in meat and fish as well as in eggs and mushrooms. The same applies to lentils, asparagus and nuts. We even find it in cabbage and onion vegetables.

Copper

Would you have thought that copper is a real source of youth? In fact, the micronutrient contributes significantly to our hair pigmentation. In other words, it maintains our natural hair colour – whether blond, brown, black or red. The higher the copper content in our body, the lower the probability of premature greying.

Particularly large amounts of copper are hidden in nuts, fish, seeds and wholemeal products. The same can also be said of cocoa, legumes and liver.

Hair and Vitamins – Our Conclusion

Let's face it: our hair is addicted to vitamins and micronutrients. No matter if it’s vitamin C, vitamin A, biotin, zinc, iron or selenium – bring it on.

Nowadays, a lot of care products focus more on vitamins and minerals, and not without reason. From shampoos and conditioners to hair treatments, hair sprays and hair oil – we find natural beauty weapons almost everywhere.

In addition to thoughtful hair care, a balanced diet naturally plays a leading role. Fish, eggs, meat, nuts, legumes & co. actively support our hair cells.

This makes one-sided nutrition all the more problematic. The body does not receive what it needs. And it shows – on the top of our head, of course. Vegetarians in particular often complain about hair breakage and hair loss. This is because they lack an important food component – meat. The bundle of B vitamins, iron and zinc provides us with energy and vitality. But if we don't get it regularly, our organism suffers.

But don’t worry: Through a balanced diet and high-quality food supplements, you can compensate for a potential deficiency without any major problems. We only have one request for you: Make sure you discuss the use of food supplements with your doctor beforehand. We are convinced that the safe option is always better than the luck-of-the-draw option.

Are you interested?

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