What Are Hair Growth Vitamins?
A number of products claim to help hair grow. Most of these products are classified as supplements and are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the same way medications are.
There are a number of supplements such as biotin, collagen, iron, vitamin D, saw palmetto, keratin, and omega-3s that are touted to promote hair growth and give users fuller, thicker hair, but do they work?
Do Hair Growth Vitamins Work?
The answer to whether hair growth supplements work is mixed and depends on the supplement and for most, more study is needed. Some popular supplements marketed for hair growth include:
Biotin (vitamin B7)
- There have been no clinical trials investigating the effectiveness of biotin for hair growth or studies on improvements in hair quality
- More study is needed to determine if biotin can help users grow hair
- Food sources of biotin include beef liver, eggs, salmon, pork chops, ground beef, sunflower seeds, sweet potato, almonds, tuna, spinach, broccoli, cheddar cheese, milk, yogurt, oatmeal, banana, whole wheat bread, and apples
- Collagen is a naturally-occurring protein that can help reduce wrinkles on aging skin
- A study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found high levels of collagen in hair follicles, which may indicate the protein is important for healthy hair
- More study is needed to determine if collagen would help with hair loss
- Foods that boost collagen production include bone broth, spirulina, cod, eggs, and gelatin
- Iron deficiency is a common non-hereditary cause of hair loss, especially in women
- If hair loss is due to iron deficiency, iron supplementation may help with hair regrowth
- Food sources of iron include lean meat, seafood, poultry, iron-fortified breakfast cereals and breads, white beans, lentils, spinach, kidney beans, peas, nuts and some dried fruits, such as raisins
- Vitamin D plays a role in stimulating hair follicles
- Low levels of vitamin D can lead to hair loss
- Vitamin D deficiency is associated with alopecia, which causes bald spots on the scalp and body
- If hair loss is due to vitamin D deficiency, vitamin D supplementation may help with hair regrowth
- Vitamin D can come from sun exposure
- The best food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel
- Other sources of vitamin D in foods in lesser amounts include beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, some mushrooms, as well as foods fortified with vitamin D such as milk (including plant-based milks), cereals some brands of orange juice, yogurt, margarine, and soy beverages
- Saw palmetto is a shrublike palm native to the southeastern U.S.
- It has been used to treat hair loss but research on its effectiveness is limited
- One study showed men treated with topical saw palmetto and trichogen veg complex increased their hair count
- Saw palmetto may help users have thicker hair, but more study is needed
- Keratin is a protein found in hair, skin, and nails
- The body produces keratin on its own but there are claims that keratin supplementation can help make hair fuller, stronger, and shinier
- There are no studies that show keratin helps with hair growth
- Ingesting keratin supplements may also be harmful
- Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that provide nutrition for healthy hair
- Test-tube and animal studies have shown omega-3s may help reduce hair loss and even promote hair growth
- Studies on humans are needed
- Food sources of omega-3s include fish and other seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines), nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts), plant oils (such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil), and fortified foods (such as certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, soy beverages, and infant formulas)