Whether you're a true beauty junkie, or are simply health-conscious, there's one tie between beauty and health that's often ignored: The link between vitamins and hair health and growth. Diet and exercise are often addressed, which is a good thing. But if you're sincerely working on being healthy, and/or you're interested in maximizing the health and growth of your hair and nails, vitamins should be understood for what they can do to promote both. Here's a list of the most helpful vitamins when it comes to hair and nail health and growth.
(*Note: Nails and hair are virtually created and maintained the same way by the body; anything that hurts or helps one also hurts or helps the other. Through this article I'll be stating "hair," but everything applies to both hair and nails.)
- Biotin. Biotin is actually a B vitamin (B7,) but goes by its own name. It not only helps promote hair growth, but if you're not getting enough Biotin, the loss is powerful enough to actually cause thinning and/or slow hair growth. There's even been some evidence that biotin may slow the natural graying of hair. Biotin has been referred to as "the hair vitamin," and can be found not only as its own supplement, but also in brown rice, sunflower seeds and oats.
- B6. Vitamin B6 boosts melanin production, which gives hair its color and helps maintain its color. It also serves to naturally protect hair strands from damage. It can also help fight thinning. (*Note: All B vitamins help with maintenance of healthy hair and nails and shouldn't be ignored.)
- Niacin (B3.) Another B vitamin, Niacin stimulates blood circulation, which boosts the amount of oxygen and nutrients hair follicles are taking in. This gives a boost to hair and nail growth and also may increase the thickness- read: strength- of each hair strand and nail plate.
- A. One of Vitamin A's biggest jobs inside the body is helping the immune system, which maintains the overall health and stability of the body and its functions. This, in turn, helps maintain the overall health of hair and nails. Vitamin A also helps the scalp produce sebum (oil,) which is super-important for preventing split ends and damage, boosting hair health and hair shine. (*Note: Don't think of hair oil as a bad thing. It protects, strengthens and is the reason your roots are so much stronger than your ends!) Vitamin A can be found naturally in veggies like carrots and kale.
- C. Vitamin C boosts circulation, or blood flow. Blood is vital to every cell in the body, including those of hair and nails, because it brings oxygen and nutrients and takes away toxins and waste. Good circulation ensures maximum hair growth. Vitamin C is found in a variety of fruits.
- E. Vitamin E also aids in circulation- as well as increasing the amount of oxygen taken in by cells. This is wonderful for skin, including the scalp, which in turn makes it wonderful for hair health and growth. There is also evidence that Vitamin E may aid in preventing or even reversing hair loss, due to the strength of its circulation-boosting. (*Note: Vitamin E is not only great for your insides, it's also great when applied to the outside of hair, nails and skin. It has extraordinary moisturizing and protective properties as a topical application.)
- Fish oil. Okay, fish oil is technically not a vitamin, but it contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which are not only fantastic for your body's health, but can also help with the protection and shiny beauty of hair and nails. Also, research suggests that fish oil helps with hair regrowth, though more studies are needed.
Clearly, unless you are getting a thoroughly complete diet of fruits, veggies, nuts and beans (which is extremely difficult,) and unless you want to take 10 different vitamin supplements (which is extremely expensive,) the very best thing you can do is find a combination vitamin supplement that has a good mix of these and other vitamins and minerals. It's long been said that prenatal vitamins are great for hair and nails- and that is absolutely true! And you don't have to be expecting to take prenatal vitamins... they're just like other vitamin supplements except they've got extra amounts of things like iron, calcium and some of the vitamins listed above. These days, there are also vitamin supplements specifically designed for hair and nail health or hair and nail growth. These may prove more expensive, and you can find similar supplements under other names, but for ease and convenience, that may be a good option for you as well.
Whatever you choose to do, the best plan is a balanced diet, a good fitness regimen, and a supplement (or supplements) that give your hair and nail growth and health a boost. The healthier your hair and nails, the more beautiful.