Crucial Nutrients for Hair Growth

Who doesn’t love a headful of hair that is lustrous and healthy? It doesn’t matter what type of hair - long, short, curly, straight, thick, or thin it is natural to want to maintain it the same way forever.

Unfortunately, as years pass, the shine and the volume come down. The immediate course of action is to turn to hair products that promise the best. But are expensive hair products effective for maintaining hair volume and reducing loss?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it is normal to lose 50 –100 strands of hair per day (1). Anything significantly higher than this is a cause for concern.  Experiencing hair loss or hair thinning can lead to desperate attempts to salvage what is left. However, getting to the root of the problem is essential before investing in expensive hair care products.

Reasons for hair loss

Various factors play a role in hair loss, such as genetics, hormonal changes, stress, pollution, illness, and nutritional deficiencies. While nothing can be done about genetics, other factors can be manipulated to a certain degree to improve hair growth. The easiest and often overlooked factor is the nutritional component.

Hair loss is a common issue that may be improved with vitamin and mineral supplementation. They are essential for normal cell growth and function and may contribute to hair loss when they are deficient. With proper nutrition and supplementation, hair strands stay healthy, and hair follicles become stronger, promoting hair growth and preventing hair loss. Supplements are relatively affordable and an effective way to improve hair growth compared to expensive hair products.

Nutrients to take for hair growth

Zinc: Zinc is a micronutrient cofactor in many enzymes that are a part of hair follicle health. Studies suggest that hair loss is one of the common symptoms of zinc deficiency (2). Zinc blocks hair loss by preventing regression of hair follicles and promoting recovery of damaged hair follicles (3). A study published in Annals of Dermatology found that taking zinc supplements helped alopecia patients with zinc-related hair loss. The study evaluated 15 alopecia subjects taking 50 mg of zinc gluconate for 12 weeks. After the study period, positive therapeutic effects were observed for nine out of 15 patients. The researchers concluded that zinc supplementation should be a part of adjuvant therapy in alopecia treatment (4).

Copper: Copper is a trace mineral involved in synthesizing the pigment melanin and collagen cross-linking, two critical components of hair growth. A recent study revealed that copper plays a crucial role in the differentiation and proliferation of dermal papilla cells. These specialized fibroblasts play an essential role in developing hair follicles (5).

Silica: Silica indirectly affects hair growth; it helps to strengthen hair and thereby prevent hair loss. A randomized controlled trial noted that 10 mg of silica for 9 months strengthened the hair strands of 48 women with fine hair (6).

Vitamin C: Also called ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant nutrient that effectively fights free radical damage. Vitamin C is crucial for collagen production and for absorbing iron from the diet. Both collagen and iron are essential for hair growth; therefore, including adequate quantities of vitamin C in the diet is vital to prevent hair loss due to iron deficiency (9,10).

CoQ10: Studies show that consuming Coenzyme Q10 could help prevent age-related effects on hair, such as hair thinning and hair loss. A 2009 publication in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science revealed that the antioxidant activity of CoQ10 may have positive effects on the human hair follicle. Researchers found CoQ10 to act as a potent bioactive that stimulates the gene expression of hair keratins, especially those affected during aging processes in the hair follicle. (11) The paper concluded that the anti-aging properties of CoQ10 may be beneficial to meeting the needs of mature hair, specifically via its hair–keratin strengthening effects.

B vitamins: B vitamins like biotin, B5 & folate are found to be beneficial in improving hair growth and preventing excessive hair loss. A recent 2020 study found that pantothenic acid (7) may help in hair growth by regulating hair follicles. B vitamins like folate and B12 are involved in nucleic acid production, suggesting that these vitamins might play a role in the highly proliferative hair follicle (8).

Besides these nutrients, certain plant extracts can also help boost hair growth and prevent excessive hair loss. Plant extracts are rich in phytonutrients that can stimulate hair growth. Some hair-strengthening and growth-boosting phytonutrients include catechins, anthocyanins, terpenoids, polyphenols, and flavonoids.

There is no doubt that vitamins and trace elements are a crucial part of our diet. These nutrients and macronutrients like carbohydrates, protein, and fat play an essential role in the normal hair follicle cycle. They are specifically involved in the turnover of the matrix cells in the follicle bulb. Follicle bulbs tend to multiply at a rapid pace, resulting in the generation of new hair strands and keeping up with the hair growth and hair loss cycle.

It is crucial to remember that a wholesome, nutritious diet combined with high-quality nutritional supplements can help improve hair growth and contain hair loss. Here are some supplements to consider for enhancing hair growth,

Hair Growth + by Douglas Laboratories: Hair Growth by Douglas Laboratories offers a clinically studied combination of ingredients in its Hair Growth + formulation. It contains hair-growth stimulating ingredients like grape seed, and green tea polyphenols, along with AnaGain™Nu, a pea protein shoot extract. The 375 mg of green tea leaf extract contains 98% polyphenols, 75% catechins, 45% EGCG, and is decaffeinated. The 150 mg of grape seed extract provides 90% polyphenols. The unique pea protein extract AnaGain™ constitutes 100 mg of the formulation and is clinically shown to promote healthy hair growth and reduce hair loss in men and women. AnaGain™ stimulates specific signal molecules in the cells of the air follicles, which reactivate hair growth. The sprouts of pea protein are rich in phytochemicals which naturally support the plant from the damaging effects of pollutants, UV, and diseases. Since phytochemicals are beneficial for human health, they may play a role in improving hair growth. Besides these critical ingredients Hair Growth + also contain zinc (15 mg) and taurine (150 mg) that support the natural hair growth cycle and provide support for hair follicles.

The formulation is available in a pack of 60 vegetarian capsules. The recommended dosage is to take 2 capsules per day.

Hair, Skin, and Nail Resilience by Progressive Laboratories: Hair Skin and Nail Resilience is a perfect choice for those looking for a bio-available form of keratin. It offers 250 mg of Cynatine, a solubilized keratin, which is the most common form of protein present in your skin, hair, and nails. This unique orally-bioavailable form of keratin enhances the strength and resilience of hair and nail tissue. The formulation also contains 200 mg of stinging nettle root extract and 100 mg of bamboo stem extract (source of silica). Stinging nettle helps reduce inflammation and blocks damage to the scalp resulting in better hair growth. Bamboo shoot extracts help improve scalp blood circulation, thickening hair follicles. Besides, bamboo shoot extracts are rich in silica. This micronutrient is crucial for producing proteins, the building blocks of hair, skin, and nails. Progressive Laboratories Hair Skin and Nail Resilience also provide biotin, niacin (B3), vitamins B6, and B5, along with trace minerals like zinc and copper in their patented TRAACS forms that are scientifically –validated chelated minerals. Chelated forms of minerals are better assimilated by the body. They are more bio-available than the conventional forms of trace minerals. The product is available in bottles of 60 vegetarian capsules. The recommended dosage is to take two capsules once or twice per day with food or as advised by your provider.

Hair/Skin/Nails Ultra by Pure Encapsulations: Pure Encapsulations formulation is a non-GMO, gluten-free, and hypoallergenic option for your hair, skin, and nails. The daily dietary supplement provides a combination of powerful nutrients that promote the growth of hair and nails and helps keep skin youthful. Hair/Skin/Nails Ultra contains vitamin C, zinc, copper, manganese, and silica which are cofactors that promote the production of collagen and keratin the key proteins that keep your hair, skin and nails healthy. PABA (Para aminobenzoic acid) supports melanin metabolism, promoting healthy hair. The Biocell Collagen complex provides collagen, the critical protein in hair, nails, and skin. The product is available in 60 vegetarian capsules. Grape seed extract and CoQ10 help fight free radical damage and protect the roots. The recommended dosage is to take 1 capsule two times per day with meals or as advised by your provider.

Harvard, T. H. "Three of the B vitamins: folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12." Boston, MA: Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health (2018).