It should not be surprising that the hair needs nutrients for healthy growth, it seems literally everything on and in the body needs one nutrient or another for maintenance, improvement and repair.
When you see/hear vitamins, the first thing that comes into mind is the ‘essential nutrients needed for the body to grow’. Most vitamins are not produced by the body, they get into the body through our diet. Water-soluble and fat-soluble are the two known forms that vitamins can take, grouped into these forms due to the time in which it stays in the body. While the fat-soluble vitamins stay for as long as months in the body, the water-soluble forms are passed out faster and are only present in the body for quite a short time. The latter forms are passed out through urine due to the regular intake of liquid needed by the body.
Genetic combination and hair care play the biggest role in healthy hair growth, and with respect to the latter, vitamins, hair products, and necessary care steps are emphasised and encouraged. Afro-textured hair has been discovered to have the slowest growth rate because of its coils, kinks, and also brittleness, meaning you need all the help you can get to boost hair growth without applying chemicals that could damage the hair.
However, one thing I have discovered is that you do not need to wait till you start experiencing hair loss or thinning before you include some vitamins in your diet (while thinking about your hair). Another advantage of vitamins is the fact they not only serve as a cure to some ailment in the body but they can also be used for the prevention of some other cases. Like they always say, PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE.
There are several vitamins with different sources not only necessary for optimum body functions but also beneficial for growing long healthy hair:
- Vitamin A is a fatty-soluble vitamin that not only helps in moisturizing existing hair and also promotes cell growth and in turn encourages hair growth. Sources of this vitamin are liver, mangoes, sweet potatoes, apricots, cheese, milk and so on.
- Both vitamin B12 and Biotin(B7) are water-soluble vitamins that help in fatty acid metabolism and carriage of oxygen to the scalp. The sources include whole grains, bananas, nuts, fish, yogurt, kidney and liver.
- Vitamin C, one of the popular vitamins aids in production of collagen (in which the amino acids are beneficial in strengthening the hair roots skin and also building of protein). Sources include citrus fruits, potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, e.t.c.
- Vitamin D is another vitamin that indirectly contributes to hair growth by the assistance of the keratinocytes (receptors of the vitamin), which creates new hair follicles for more hair strands to grow from and increase the thickness of the hair. Almonds, vegetable oil, peanut (peanut butter) and leafy green are some of the high sources of vitamin D.
- Vitamin E with its antioxidant effect helps repair damaged hair follicles and also aids blood circulation to the scalp. The vitamin E oil can also serve as a sealant while repairing split ends.
You might be wondering if vitamins are the only nutrients necessary for the growth of long healthy hair? Not at all. There are other nutrients that are needed to improve the health of your hair and the body. Identifying these nutrients and ensuring their presence in your diet will promote hair growth and the healthy function of other body systems in general. It is of utmost importance to pay a visit to the physician before orally administering any drug for supplements or vitamin buttress, this should be done in order to seek medical advice on the drug and the possible responses of your body system. Drugs have side effects and also special conditions in the presence of other situations in the body, this is why it is of great importance to notify physicians first before consumption.
Other nutrients needed for hair growth improvement include iron, protein, zinc, omega 3 (fatty acid), and selenium, with their sources from avocado, fish, meat (red meat, chicken, and turkey), whole grains, sardines, mackerel, salmon, eggs, spinach and many more. Where iron assists in blood circulation to the scalp thereby helping hair grow faster and healthier, the deficiency of iron in the body can result in excessive shedding of the hair, zinc on its side repairs tissues in the scalp that might hinder growth. Omega 3 contains fatty acid that helps keep the scalp hydrated and selenium works as a scalp protector. The deficiency of one or all these nutrients can result in serious hair loss and unhealthy hair growth. Also, trace minerals such as silica may not promote hair growth but it assists in strengthening the hair so as to prevent thinning and breakage.
Of course, it might be difficult to include all these nutrients in your everyday meals (we all know it is close to impossible) but they can be added to the meal one at a time. The important factor is to make sure the body does not lack any of these nutrients and they are readily available to the system. Eating healthy equates to keeping healthy hair, and keeping healthy hair equates to having your coils and kinks in all thicknesses. Sometimes, it is encouraged to take multivitamins since you might not be able to consume all the nutrients. Due to the availability of several supplements, it is encouraged that when shopping for hair supplements, it is better to know the particular nutrients you need to make purchases easier and avoid unnecessary purchases. Also, remember as mentioned before, to speak to a physician before taking any oral supplements, be it for hair or the body in general.
We have come to the point where we have to remember, as much as the nutrients are necessary for healthy hair growth, too much of any of them can also result in different side effects (like they always say, too much of a good thing is not good anymore). This is why all nutrients are encouraged to be taken moderately and a healthy diet should be consumed appropriately.