If you follow any beauty influencers on social media, you may be familiar with hair vitamins, supplements designed to make your hair grow long and thick. Of course, these influencers already have long and luxurious hair; most are also sporting hair extensions or fillers. Yet, we are lead to believe their lush hair is the result of hair vitamins.
Insta influencers aren’t the most honest source for advice on beauty supplements — recall the skinny tea phase where celebrities advertised laxatives. But perhaps there is some truth to using hair vitamins.
Hair vitamins come in a few brands, so let’s take a look at the ingredients of three common hair vitamins:
Ok, so we have real vitamins in these supplements. Great! But can they give me Kylie-grade hair?
Folate is essential for DNA and protein synthesis, and deficiency can cause hair and nail growth defects. Folate is naturally occurring in leafy veggies, fruits, meats, and grain. Folic acid is a form of folate that can be stored and supplemented in our food. Folic acid fortification of bread and other wheat products is mandated by many countries, including the US and Canada, to combat birth defects caused by folate deficiency. Therefore, if you eat a balanced diet, you likely acquire the necessary folic acid for healthy nail and hair growth and do not need further supplementation.
Zinc aids in protein synthesis, immune function, and cell division and can be found in meat, nuts, beans, fish, and whole grains. The relationship between zinc levels and hair loss is debated, with some studies showing a correlation between zinc levels and hair loss pathologies such as alopecia. Interestingly, zinc pyrithione shampoos seem to improve hair growth, but this is achieved topically due to reduction of oxidation on the scalp. However, there is no evidence to suggest zinc supplementation supports hair growth in individuals without zinc deficiency.
Seeing a pattern here?
Deficiency in several vitamins can cause hair loss, however, supplementation and overconsumption of these vitamins do not guarantee increased hair growth, especially in healthy individuals. Empirical evidence supporting the efficacy of hair vitamins is scarce. A well-balanced diet can easily substitute hair vitamins. So, save your money! This author declares hair vitamins to be pseudo-science.