Having healthy hair can make you more confident, healthier and even more attractive. It is a reflection of your mental and physical state, which makes it an important aspect of your overall health. You can improve your hair health through your dietary choices.
Healthy hair requires good sources of protein, iron, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, zinc, selenium, vitamin E and biotin. Healthy hair foods therefore include dark leafy greens, fruits rich in vitamin C, sources of healthy fats and proteins like fish and much more. To ensure that you consume enough of these beneficial nutrients, you can also take a good supplement for healthy hair.
In this guide, we will go over some of the most effective supplements for hair health and explain how they can help you!
Why Should You Take Hair Supplements?
Taking a supplement can have profound effects on your overall health, the quality of your hair and your overall well-being. On top of this, they can have additional health and beauty benefits such as improving the quality of your skin, reducing risk of health problems, improving cardiovascular health and more.
Hair quality can be identified by its rate of growth, texture, shine and more. Depending on your ethnicity, texture may vary, however growth and shine are pretty consistent markers of hair health. Healthy hair is strong and shiny, and has a healthy rate of hair growth: 4 inches per year for African Americans, 5 inches for caucasians and 6 inches for Asians. Rate of hair loss also helps determine hair health.
For women, losing more than 15 strands per 60 strands of hair means that you are losing too much – you can test your hair loss by pinching about 60 strands at the root, and pulling them all the way to the ends. If you count for than 15 strands between your fingers, you may be experiencing hair loss.
Benefits of Supplements for Hair
The best supplements for hair have many benefits that extend to other aspects of health and wellness too. Having gorgeous, shiny, thick and healthy hair can improve your well-being and confidence – not only that, but the best supplements for hair health also nourish other parts of the body.
Your hair is a reflection of your mental and physical health, but it also contributes to your overall health through when you are satisfied with it – positive emotions and confidence help to build physical health as well. This makes taking supplements for healthy hair a worthwhile health venture that can improve your resilience, preserve your youth and improve your overall well-being.
10 Supplements to Consider for Your Hair
Omega Fatty Acids
What are Omega Fatty Acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that are essential to your overall health. There are three important types – EPA, DHA and ALA. EPA and DHA come mostly from cold water oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines. ALA fatty acids come from certain plant sources such as avocados, flaxseeds and walnuts. These fats are essential because they make up the membranes of cells, and they help to lower levels of triglycerides in the bloodstream.
The average adult in the United States does not consume the recommended amounts of omega-3 fats, so supplementation is sometimes not only beneficial; but necessary. Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the best supplements for hair, and they help to nourish your cardiovascular system, hydrate your skin and strengthen your hair.
How Omega Fatty Acids Support Healthy Hair
It may do this by nourishing and moisturizing your scalp, invigorating your hair follicles and promoting growth.
A study published in 2015 in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that omega-3 supplements with omega-6 and antioxidants may help hair loss and hair density. The study was a randomized, comparative study of 120 women for a 6 month period – 89.9% reported a reduction in hair loss, 86.1% experienced improved hair diameter and 83.7% had improved hair density.
How to Take Omega Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements come in the form of oils and gel capsules typically. EPA and DHA are found in fish oil and krill oil supplements, while ALA is often found in flaxseed and other nut oils. Dosages should be based on EPA, DHA and ALA contents of the given supplement.
Omega Fatty Acid Side Effects
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are generally safe and well tolerated, with the most common side effects of fish oil omega-3’s being fishy breath and burps. However, omega-3 supplements can interact with blood thinners and increase risk of bleeding. They may also reduce blood pressure levels and interact with diabetic medications in high doses.
What is Zinc?
Zinc is an essential trace mineral, which means the body must consume zinc in trace amounts from diet. It supports normal growth and development of cells, supports the immune system, plays a role in the synthesis of proteins and DNA, participates in wound healing and cell division.
Zinc foods include seafoods such as oysters, flounder, crab and lobster, meats such as beef and chicken, certain cheeses, grains and legumes. Zinc supplements come in different forms, such as zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate, and zinc acetate; each with different percentages of elemental zinc. Zinc is one of the best supplements for hair health.
How Zinc Supports Healthy Hair
The importance of zinc to healthy hair can be demonstrated by the effects of zinc deficiency on hair quality – zinc deficiency can cause hair thinning and hair loss, and it may also affect the color and texture of your hair. Healthy hair growth is a cell dividing process as well, which is supported by zinc.
How to Take Zinc
Zinc should be taken with a liquid, such as water or juice. It is most easily absorbed in the forms of zinc picolinate, zinc citrate, zinc acetate, zinc monomethionine and zinc glycerate. You can take zinc supplements in the forms of zinc pills, tablets, lozenges and more. Zinc supplements should not be taken iron or calcium.
Zinc Side Effects
Zinc taken in proper amounts is generally well tolerated, but some people may experience side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, metallic taste etc. Zinc may also reduce copper levels in the body.
What are B-Complex Vitamins?
Vitamin B-complex includes eight different B vitamins that play an important role in the metabolism. It includes vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), and B12. Vitamin B-complex foods include dark leafy greens, meats, fish, dairy, peas, beans, whole grains and dairy.
This vitamin complex helps the body to process foods and extract energy from them, support healthy growth, development and helps make up red blood cells. Vitamin B-complex is a good supplement for hair health, and also has additional health benefits when taken as a supplement.
How B-Complex Vitamins Support Healthy Hair
Vitamin B-complex is important to healthy growth and development, as well as proper metabolism and nutrient absorption. For example, folate helps to produce new cells, which is required for healthy hair growth. Vitamin B-complex also helps to improve the absorption of nutrients, which improves hair sheen, thickness, growth and overall quality. Each vitamin in a good vitamin B-complex supplement has distinct benefits to hair health, and they all work together to improve overall hair health benefits.
How to Take B-Complex Vitamins
A vitamin B-complex supplement is best taken with a glass of water or juice due to its water solubility. The best time to take a B-complex vitamin is generally in the morning.
B-Complex Vitamin Side Effects
Vitamin B-complex is generally well tolerated. The body excretes unnecessary B vitamins in urine. However, some people experience side effects such as diarrhea, constipation, vomiting etc.
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a water soluble antioxidant vitamin that is essential to obtain through diet. This is unique to humans – most animals are capable of producing vitamin C endogenously. This vitamin is well known for its ability to help the immune system, but it is also involved in the synthesis of collagen, protein metabolism and neurotransmitter activities.
Vitamin C foods include colorful fruit and vegetables such as oranges, strawberries, spinach and more. Vitamin C is one of the best supplements for hair health.
How Vitamin C Supports Healthy Hair
Vitamin C supplements are some of the most effective supplements for improving hair strength. Hair strands are made up of primarily collagen, vitamin C helps to strengthen hair follicles by supporting the process of collagen synthesis.
How to Take Vitamin C
Vitamin C is often taken in two to three doses per day with meals. It may also have a diuretic effect, so drinking lots of water is a good idea. For dosages, follow the instructions on your particular product.
Vitamin C Side Effects
Vitamin C is a well- tolerated water soluble vitamin, and excess amount are excreted by the body in urine. However, some people may experience side effects such as chest pain, abdominal cramps, dizziness, diarrhea etc.
What is Iron?
Iron is a mineral that is an essential part of hemoglobin – the protein that carries oxygen throughout the bloodstream. It also supports the metabolism, normal growth and development, hormone synthesis, connective tissues and normal cellular functioning.
Deficiency in iron is called anemia, and it is the most common and widespread deficiency in the world. Iron foods include dark leafy greens, red meats, organ meats, fortified foods and more.
How Iron Supports Healthy Hair
Women may especially benefit from taking iron supplements because they are more prone to iron deficiency. This is due to monthly blood loss from menstruation. Overall, iron is a good hair health supplement that also has additional health benefits.
How to Take Iron
Iron supplements are best absorbed on an empty stomach, so they should ideally be taken in between meals. Iron supplements should not be taken with antacids or milk due to their calcium contents. Calcium may affect iron absorption.
Iron Side Effects
Iron supplements may cause side effects such as diarrhea or constipation. Nausea and cramps may occur, but taking a good iron supplement with a little bit of food may prevent these side effects for those with sensitive stomachs.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is obtained through some foods, but primarily produced by the body endogenously when sunlight hits the skin. It plays an important role in calcium absorption and bone health, cellular growth, immune function and regulation of inflammation.
Vitamin D foods include certain fish, eggs, cheese, fortified milk and cereals. However, it is usually not found in very high amounts.
How Vitamin D Supports Healthy Hair
It helps to prevent vitamin D deficiency, which can cause hair thinning.
How to Take Vitamin D
Vitamin D is best taken with a source of fat, so it is often taken with food. For dosage instructions, check the label on your vitamin D supplement product. Vitamin D supplements may interact with certain medications, so talk to your doctor before taking vitamin D.
Vitamin D Side Effects
Vitamin D taken in very high doses may cause side effects such as bone pain, thirst, sore eyes, itchy skin etc. This generally occurs due to vitamin D toxicity, which may develop after taking 40,000 IUs or more daily for several months.
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera is a perennial succulent plant that is native to Egypt and has been used for over 6,000 years. It is most commonly known as a topical treatment used to reduce inflammation from skin conditions such as sunburn. However, aloe vera can also be used to moisturize the scalp and help dead skin cells.
How Aloe Vera Supports Healthy Hair
Aloe vera can be applied to the scalp to nourish and support hair follicles. It helps to moisturize and repair dead skin cells on the scalp due to its proteolytic enzymes. These enzymes help with dandruff! It can also naturally condition your hair, making it softer and shinier.
Aloe vera gel also is known to contain similar chemicals as keratin, a protein that is important to hair structure. When massaged into the scalp and throughout out the hair, aloe vera gel helps to nourish strands with these nutrients.
How to Use Aloe Vera
Aloe vera gel can be used as a conditioner – after washing your hair, you can take the gel or juice and massage it into the scalp, and run it throughout your hair; then rinse it out. You can also leave it in overnight with a shower cap on for enhanced results. Make sure to use a product that is as pure aloe as possible, or use a product intended for your hair. You can also extract aloe gel from the plant.
Aloe Vera Side Effects
Aloe vera is a very safe topical product, however some may have negative reactions to it due to allergies. If a rash or hives appears, see a doctor.
What is Biotin?
Biotin is a B vitamin, also known as vitamin B7. It is necessary to the formation of glucose and fatty acids from the foods that we eat, which provides the body with energy. It also is important to the metabolization of carbohydrates, amino acids and fats, which make up the building blocks of proteins.
It can be found in small amounts in some biotin foods, and certain bacteria in the gut can also produce it. Biotin foods include cauliflower, salmon, carrots, bananas, soy etc. It is a water soluble vitamin that makes a good supplement for hair health.
How Biotin Supports Healthy Hair
Taking biotin as a supplement helps the body to improve its keratin structure, which can strengthen hair and nails. It is often used to improve the thickness of brittle nails, and strengthen hair strands.
How to Take Biotin
Follow the instructions on your biotin product for dosing. Avoid taking biotin with raw egg whites, because they contain a protein called avidin that may interfere with biotin absorption.
Biotin Side Effects
Biotin may react with antibiotics and antiseizure medications, so talk to your doctor before taking biotin if you are on medication. Some people experience nausea or cramping from biotin supplements, however biotin is well tolerated generally.
What is Protein?
Protein is an important macronutrient that is found in almost every part of the body. It is an important part of your muscles, bones, skin, hair, and most tissues. Proteins are made up of chains of amino acids in different combinations – there are at least 10,000 different types of proteins that make up the human body.
Protein foods include animal sources such as red meats, poultries and seafood, as well as some plant sources such as chia seeds, hemp seeds, quinoa, lentils etc. You can also take protein in the form of a supplement. Some of the protein supplement powders available include whey, casein, soy, rice, hemp, egg proteins and more.
How Protein Supports Healthy Hair
Your hair strands are 91% protein, which makes protein an important nutrient for hair health. Not consuming enough protein can result in hair dullness, weakness and slow growth. It can also make hair more brittle.
How to Take Protein
Protein powders are generally taken in the forms of smoothies, or added to meals. You can drink a protein shake any time of day that you prefer. Try not to add too much sugar or fat to your shake to keep it healthy.
Protein Side Effects
Protein powders are generally safe and well tolerated, however when taken in larger amounts they may cause increased bowel movements, bloating, cramps, nausea and more. If you are allergic to milk, avoid milk-based protein powders such as whey.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein that makes up 30% of the proteins in the body. It is primarily found in connective tissues such as tendons, ligaments and cartilage, and it also helps structure the skin. It even is an important part of blood vessels, bones, the digestive tract and corneas. There are different types of collagen, and they are synthesized by the body.
Vitamin C is an important nutrient for the process of collagen synthesis. The only sources of collagen in diet are from ligaments and tendons of animals, so bone broths are the only true collagen foods. Other foods help to support collagen synthesis, such as dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, salmon, eggs and more.
How Collagen Supports Healthy Hair
Collagen is one of the proteins that makes up hair composition, and plays a major role in hair improvement. Collagen helps support the structure of arteries and improve circulation, which in turn supports better nutrient transport and blood flow to hair follicles. This helps to support healthy hair.
How to Take Collagen
Collagen is best absorbed on an empty stomach. It generally takes a couple months of collagen supplementation to see the benefits. It is generally best to take collagen at night so that the body can utilize it during the restorative period of rest.
Collagen Side Effects
Collagen is a generally well tolerated protein supplement. However, some people may experience side effects similar to that of protein supplements. Marine collagen sources may cause high levels of calcium.