Saturday, Sep 23, 2023 22:00 [IST]
Last Update: Saturday, Sep 23, 2023 16:18 [IST]
Who wouldn’t yearn to have a head full of thick and luscious locks? Alas, very few of us are blessed with such long and strong–beautiful hair. In this day and age, people are exposed to a lot of chemicals, bad water quality, stress levels and pollution. Many times people do not have a balanced diet, and lack the essential vitamins and minerals that are the core building blocks of our hair. Thus, hair loss has become a very common problem in both men & women of all ages, and unlocking your hair’s radiance lies in the nourishment and care that you provide both externally and from within.
Although there’s no substitute for a wholesome diet—the potential of hair-boosting supplements cannot be undermined. In recent times, we have heard whispers about how biotin, collagen, and multivitamins are the secret potion behind fabulous hair growth—however, as a doctor, I have seen many people are unaware of the fact that the efficacy of supplements in addressing hair fall is essentially linked to their role in managing deficiencies. Furthermore, it is also important to know which supplement is helpful for treating hair loss—therefore, in this blog, we will delve deep into providing you with all that you need to know about hair supplements, and whether they can transform your tangled messes into vibrant tresses.
Vitamin A: Frequently connected to eye health, Vitamin A is often forgotten as a hair supplement, although it has a huge role to play in thickening and growing hair. Boosting cellular growth is Vitamin A’s primary function, so it aids in growing thick and healthy hair; but, too much Vitamin A can cause an oily scalp that might lead to more hair loss—thus, it is important to not exceed the recommended daily dosage is roughly 10,000 IU per day.
Vitamin C: Guess what? Vitamin C is not just for fighting off colds– it's a secret weapon for your scalp too! As collagen causes the generation of proline, which in turn results in the production of keratin, the elementary unit for keeping hair strong—vitamin C is a highly important component for improving scalp health. Giving your immune system an extra boost, Vitamin C has the potential to not only support keeping your organs healthy but also fight off all the ailments that can mess with your locks. People suffering from hair loss due to a lack of iron might gain benefits from Vitamin C, which has chelating and reducing effects. The daily recommended intake of Vitamin C for females is 75 mg, while for males it is 90 mg.
Vitamin D: Playing a pivotal role in calcium absorption, Vitamin D (calciferol) helps in promoting robust bone development, and facilitating muscle contraction. Having a Vitamin D deficiency causes telogen effluvium–a form of stress-induced hair loss. One of its primary purposes is to work in unison with nutrients such as vitamin C and biotin to strengthen the hair shaft and successfully prevent breaking. Although your skin produces vitamin D naturally when exposed to UV sunlight, it may also be obtained through food sources like cod liver oil, salmon, swordfish, sardines, etc, but if you are supplementing yourself, the daily recommended dosage of Vitamin D is 268-536 mg.
B Vitamins: Known to have a plethora of health benefits and encourage healthy cell turnover in our body, B vitamins are integral to cellular metabolism. Thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), biotin (B7), folic acid (vitamin B-9), and vitamin B12 are among the eight water-soluble substances out of which only B2, B3, B7, folate, and B12 are useful for hair development. Most B vitamins are synthesised within the body, except biotin—therefore, adequate daily intake can easily be achieved through a balanced meal; however, if you are planning to take a B-complex supplement, then the recommended daily dosage is 400 mg.
Vitamin E: Playing quite a vital role in maintaining and nurturing healthy hair, Vitamin E is an antioxidant that is fat-soluble and great for your tresses. When it comes to hair growth, it not just stands out as a top-notch vitamin, but also is extremely helpful in supporting proper blood circulation which prevents your scalp from getting all dry and itchy. But that’s not all! Its rich anti-oxidant properties shields hair from getting damaged and fix damaged hair follicles as well and of you are suffering from a deficiency, 15 mg daily is the ideal dosage.
Collagen: Being a crucial protein for maintaining a healthy scalp, collagen contributes to the strength of your skin cells. Collagen supplements have been infamously known for enhancing hydration, elasticity and density—and thus, help in impacting scalp and hair health too. Having collagen also has other potential benefits like improving skin, joint and bone health, along with aiding in the elimination of grey hair. For promoting new hair, Collagen Type I and Type III play a pivotal role as they are known to stimulate the production of proteins essential for hair to be longer and thicker. It is generally advised to include 2.5–15 gms of collagen per day. Typically, visible improvements can be noticed within four to twelve weeks of daily use.
Biotin: Biotin, typically known as Vitamin B7 (or Vitamin H), is mostly found in foods such as eggs, almonds, and salmon and it aids in the formation of keratin. It manages the metabolic processes and swiftly transfers all the good & essential nutrients to hair follicles from time to time. From processing fats, proteins and carbs, it also regulates blood sugar and is vital in reducing hair loss. Although, typically if one has a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet, the deficiency of biotin can be avoided. However, if one has a deficiency of biotin, then supplements can work wonders. A daily amount of 30-100 mcg per day is recommended dosage of biotin.
Zinc: The deficiency of zinc has often been associated with hair loss and addressing it through supplementation can help alleviate this issue. In fact, studies have shown that conditions like male and female pattern hair loss, telogen effluvium and alopecia areata have been associated with a zinc deficiency. Being a fundamental component in the production of keratin, zinc is a vital element that helps in the growth and repair of hair tissue and maintains the effective functioning of the oil glands around hair follicles. As even a mild deficiency in zinc can render hair dryness and breakage, to correct this deficit, one can have zinc supplements of 15–30 mg.
Vitamin B9—a powerhouse for energy production, is known as folate in foods and folic acid in supplements, it plays a key role in promoting cellular metabolism. Not only does it promote healthy hair and nails in the long term but also can possibly reverse sun-induced damage and aiid in hair growth in cases of deficiency. Stick to the recommended dosage of 400 mcg of folic acid for your overall hair health.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: For getting a head full of shiny, lustrous healthy hair, one more component is very important—Omega 3 fatty acids. Not only does it work its magic on your locks but also keeps the scalp healthy and nourishes the hair follicles that reduce inflammation– and in turn, promote hair growth. The recommended dosage of Omega 3 is 1.1-1.6 grams.
Some things you can include in your lifestyle to improve your hair quality and address hair fall:
? Maintaining a nutritious diet, that includes all the essential vitamins and minerals like eggs, spinach, beans, carrots, salmon, lentils, mixed seeds, bell peppers, berries, peanuts, oats, raisins, almonds and walnuts.
? Incorporating enough sleep, staying adequately hydrated and doing cardio exercises daily can be really beneficial.
? Avoid heat and hair products as they can promote build-up and can also help recede hair fall linked to such factors.
? External factors like water quality and stress can contribute to hair fall even with a healthy routine. So, install water-softening devices or use drinking water to wash hair.
? Having a healthy scalp can decrease hair fall, but it might not eliminate it entirely. So, the management of stress is also very important.
? Get hot oil massages on a regular basis as it helps to stimulate blood circulation.
? Get weekly hair masks because when the hair and scalp are moisturised it prevents flaking.
? Avoid over-shampooing your hair as it strips off all the natural oils and makes it dry, frizzy and brittle–resulting in hair loss. Also, watch out for the harmful SLS, parabens and silicones, as they aid in more hair loss over a period of time.
? Instead of gels, style your hair with a mix of oil and water or combine the oil with your serum. You can either use coconut, almond, or mustard oil with serum drops, although you might not have the same hold as gel, this method is gentler on your hair and minimises chemical exposure.
If you are facing a Vitamin deficiency, it is vital for you to supplement yourself with essential nutrients to restore balance and potentially combat hair fall. But, as a seasoned dermatologist, I would always suggest you do a thorough blood analysis before you opt for supplements. Ideally, if you are facing hair fall for over a period of three months– then get the blood test done which will include assessments of S-calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, S-Ferritin, Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC), Complete Blood Count (CBC), Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR), and a Thyroid profile encompassing T3, T4, and TSH levels. So, it is important to note that if your nutrient levels are adequate, then the supplements might not have any significant impact. However, as we all know, excess of anything can be more harmful than helpful so taking excess amounts of Vitamins can cause hypervitaminosis. To get optimal results for reducing hair fall, one must maintain scalp health and use good-quality, non-hard water for bathing and washing can contribute to a reduction in hair fall. Lastly, if the problem persists, then you must consult a healthcare professional who can provide personalised guidance by understanding your deficiencies and correcting them.
(Dr. Deepali Bhardwaj is a leading Dermatologist, Allergy Specialist & Internationally trained Aesthetician based in New Delhi. www.skincareindia.in)