Everyone knows that hair needs vitamins. This is reminiscent of advertising for shampoos and other hair care products, on all jars and bottles the word “vitamins” is found with enviable regularity, and even schoolgirls today know that hair needs vitamins. There is a feeling that we live in a situation of chronic deficiency of these valuable nutrients, and that we urgently need to run for a variety of vitamin complexes.
MedAboutMe figured out exactly what vitamins are needed so that hair does not fall out.
There are approximately 100,000 hair follicles in the human scalp. Approximately 90% of them are in the anagen phase, that is, active growth, when the hair root cells multiply rapidly, forming a hair shaft. Every 4 weeks the hair has time to grow by 1 cm. And for this it needs proteins, vitamins and minerals.
As early as the 1990s, it was shown that trace elements play a key role in the life cycle of the hair follicle, being necessary for the active division of the follicle bulb matrix cells. Scientists believe that the three most common types of alopecia — androgenetic alopecia, telogen alopecia and alopecia areata — are somehow associated with a lack of certain trace elements and vitamins.
Studies on the effect of a particular vitamin on hair health are conducted regularly. And as the equipment and experimental techniques improve, the results of research often change. Today it is already clear that not all vitamins play a real role in maintaining the health and activity of hair follicles, and some, even if they do, are in people who already have some kind of pathology.
We will list those vitamins that are really relevant for maintaining lush hair.
It is a fat-soluble vitamin that is vital for vision, immune function, and essential for cell growth and differentiation. The recommended dose of vitamin A for adults 19 years of age and older is 1300 mcg/day (4300 IU). But taking vitamin A in high doses can be toxic. For adults 19 years of age and older, the Tolerable Upper Intake Level for vitamin A is 10,000 IU.
Normally, vitamin A is stored in the liver, while the body maintains a balance between its active and inactive metabolites. In 2012, an article was published in the journal Biochimica et Biophysica Acta stating that consuming too much or taking too much vitamin A can cause hair loss.
An excess of the active metabolite of vitamin A, retinoic acid, suppresses the sebaceous glands, which is used to treat acne. In the hair follicle, a lack of retinoic acid delays the transition to anagen, and an excess of it accelerates the transition from telogen to anagen. In both cases, the process of hair loss is accelerated.
The B-vitamin complex contains eight water-soluble vitamins. It is believed that only a deficiency of riboflavin (B2), biotin (B7), folic acid and vitamin B12 leads to hair loss.
Vitamin B2 is a component of two important coenzymes that play a role in cell development and function, fat metabolism and energy production. Riboflavin deficiency is rare.
Vitamin B7 is a cofactor for five carboxylase enzymes that activate certain steps in fatty acid, glucose and amino acid metabolism. Biotin deficiency is also rare. Healthy people who eat a balanced diet usually do not suffer from biotin deficiency. But there is a risk of developing a lack of it with increased consumption of raw eggs containing the substance avidin, which binds biotin and blocks its absorption. It should be noted that in many products for hair, skin and nails, biotin is contained in concentrations that are significantly higher than normal. And although it is not toxic to the body, its excess can lead to incorrect test results for troponin and hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin).
There are a number of reasonable doubts about the two remaining representatives of the B vitamins.
Folate is another water-soluble B vitamin and is a coenzyme in nucleic acid synthesis and amino acid metabolism. At risk for developing folic acid deficiency are patients with alcoholism, junk food lovers, pregnant women, or people with impaired digestion of digested food. Folic acid deficiency can cause changes in hair, skin, and nails.
Vitamin B12 is essential for DNA synthesis, neurological function, and red blood cell formation. Vitamin B12 affects the synthesis of nearly 100 compounds, including DNA, RNA, and proteins.
In 2019, an article was published in the journal Dermatology and Therapy stating that recent studies do not prove a link between a deficiency or excess of folic acid and vitamin B12 and hair loss.
Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is a water-soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant. It is also required for the synthesis of collagen fibers and plays an important role in the absorption of iron in the intestine. Therefore, the intake of vitamin C plays an important role in patients suffering from iron deficiency — in them, a lack of vitamin C leads to hair loss.
In the case of normal healthy people, while there is evidence that vitamin C deficiency is associated with abnormal body hair growth, there is no evidence linking vitamin C levels and hair loss.
It is a fat-soluble vitamin that is synthesized in keratinocytes — skin cells. Initially, vitamin D, which we synthesize ourselves and get from food, is inactive; special enzymes are needed to activate it. Vitamin D regulates the growth and differentiation of keratinocytes. The role of vitamin D in the life of the hair follicle is evidenced by hair loss in patients with vitamin D-dependent type II rickets. Such patients have mutations that block the absorption of vitamin D.
Studies show that vitamin D deficiency is associated with androgenetic alopecia. It is not yet clear what this relationship is based on, but patients with alopecia are significantly more likely than healthy people to be deficient in vitamin D.
Vitamin E is involved in the balance of oxidants and antioxidants and helps protect cells from free radical damage.
Some studies show that people with androgenetic alopecia have significantly lower levels of vitamin E than healthy people. However, there are also data from studies that did not reveal significant differences in this indicator.
- So, not all vitamins are equally relevant in the matter of hair loss. And not all of them are good in excess.
- Vitamin A is essential for hair but is toxic if taken in too much.
- Of the B vitamins, riboflavin and biotin are definitely important and necessary — if they are lacking, the hair will fall out.
- Vitamins D and E are definitely important and necessary for the prevention of hair loss.
- Finally, vitamin C is relevant for people with iron deficiency and does not play a special role in the prevention of alopecia in healthy people.
Endogenous retinoids in the hair follicle and sebaceous gland / Everts H.B. // Biochim Biophys Acta. — 2012
The role of vitamins and minerals in hair loss: a review. / Almohanna HM, Ahmed AA, Tsatalis JP. // Dermatol Ther (Heidelb) — March, 2019 — 9(1)
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies in Patients With Telogen Effluvium: A Retrospective Cross-Sectional Study. / Cheung EJ, Sink JR, English III JC. // J Drugs Dermatol. — 2016 Oct 1 — 15(10):1235-1237