Nutrients to Promote Hair Growth
Hair comes in all textures, colors, and lengths. Each of these properties is the direct result of the hair follicle located in the dermis of the scalp. Whether you hope to grow longer locks or a thicker head of hair, take certain essential nutrients to promote healthy follicles. Nutrients gained by diet can promote the growth of healthy hair.
Protein is composed of amino acids and is involved in the building of new cells, including cells at the hair follicle. The protein family, keratin, is the most abundant material in hair cells. Keratin-rich cells are made deep in the dermis by the hair root. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein for healthy adults is a minimum of .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Sources of protein include meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs, seeds, nuts and some grains.
Having the right amounts of B vitamins is essential for hair growth. Niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), folic acid, and vitamins B6 and B12 are especially important for hair growth. They work to create hair cells by maintain the body's hemoglobin levels, which carries blood to the body's tissues, including the scalp. The B vitamins increase the blood circulation to the scalp and assist in re-growing healthy hair where it has been lost. Also, B vitamins are found in several food sources. Good sources of niacin include chicken, salmon, potatoes and whole grains while oatmeal, strawberries, green leafy vegetables and brown rice are good sources of pantothenic acid. Vitamin B12 is located in most animal and fortified soy products.
Biotin is also part of the B vitamin family but it plays a distinct part in the growth of healthy hair. Biotin is used to make new skin cells, leading to healthier, fuller hair. It is especially helpful for hair loss patients, as it has been shown to help hair grow thicker and longer. The RDA for biotin is 30mcg for adult men and women. The best sources of biotin are egg yolks and liver.
Vitamin A supports a healthy scalp and skin cells. It prevents clogging of the sebaceous glands, which produce sebum, a lubricant for the hair follicle. The RDA for vitamin A is 700mg for females and 900mg for males. Orange, yellow and dark green vegetables along with liver, fish and dairy provide are good sources of vitamin A.
Vitamin E enhances the blood circulation of the scalp allowing the uptake of more oxygen used by hair roots to form new hair cells. It is suggested that men and women consume 15mg of vitamin E daily. Vegetables, vegetable oils, meats and fruits contain vitamin E.
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intake-Vitamins
- RD411.com: Vitamins and Minerals Guide
- "Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements"; Jennifer Otten, Jennifer Pitzi Hellwig and Linda Meyers; 2006