Hair has a higher rate of mitosis, or division, than any other cell in your body. It grows 0.3 mm a day and 1 cm per month and needs vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes to remain strong and shiny. Certain vitamins are particularly crucial for keeping your scalp healthy to prevent your hair from becoming weak, dull, brittle or fall out.
Methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM, is a natural active sulphur compound that supports metabolism and health of connective tissue. It occurs in fruits, vegetables and grains. Ronald M. Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D. at the Council for Natural Nutrition, conducted a pilot trial, which found that 100 per cent of the subjects taking MSM experienced an improvement in hair growth; 30 per cent showed an improvement in hair health and brilliance, while the placebo group showed no improvement over a period of six weeks.
Biotin, known as vitamin H or vitamin B-7, is often in cosmetic products to strengthen hair and promote hair growth. Deficiencies in biotin may cause hair loss, dry scaly scalp and gray hair. Good dietary sources of biotin are nuts, green peas, liver and wholegrains. Uncooked egg whites contain a protein that binds with biotin making it unavailable to the body, so should be avoided. The University of Maryland Medical Center says biotin supplements may improve thin and brittle nails and hair.
Hair loss in men is often caused by a deficiency in pyridoxine, or vitamin B-6. Vitamin B-6 helps balance proteins and metabolise amino acids in the body and contributes to healthy hair. Vitamin B-6 promotes and regulates inositol, which encourages the health of follicles and ensures the scalp receives signals to grow hair, according to the Vitamins for Hair Growth website. Healthy and vibrant hair colour is created by melanin in the scalp, produced with the help of vitamin B-6. Sources of vitamin B-6 are brewer’s yeasts, offal and egg yolks.
A diet that includes foods containing niacin, or vitamin B-3, such as wheatgerm, fish and brewer’s yeast, may help promote the formation of hair follicles by encouraging scalp circulation. The Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina studied the effect of topical derivatives of niacin on females with hair loss. Conclusions, published in the 2005 “Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology” using a 35mm photographic analysis, found a significant increase in hair fullness.
Vitamins C and E are efficient antioxidants essential for the maintenance and repair of cells, tissue and skin, including hair. Antioxidants help strengthen the immune system, which may reduce illnesses that can cause unhealthy hair. Vitamin C is important to maintain capillaries that carry blood to follicles and keep the scalp healthy. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron needed to grow hair. Vitamin E stimulates circulation of the scalp by increasing oxygen uptake and improving blood flow. Spinach is a good source of vitamins C and E. Other foods containing vitamin C are citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, green peppers and dark green vegetables. Vitamin E is present in plant oils, wheatgerm, seeds and nuts and dried beans.
Since hair grows from the scalp, vitamin A may contribute to healthier hair by increasing the production of sebum and regulating the synthesis of retinol in the hair follicle. Hair products containing vitamin A can be massaged into the hair shaft or vitamin A can be obtained from food, such as fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy, broccoli, peaches and especially fish, which contains essential fatty acids for the metabolism of keratin, the protein in hair.
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- Library of Congress: Why does hair turn gray?: Hair-raising facts
- MPB Research: Trial shows MSM improves hair and nail growth
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin H (Biotin)
- Vitamins for Hair Growth: How vitamin B6 can work for one’s hair growth needs
- “Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology;” A pilot study evaluating the efficacy of topically applied niacin derivatives for treatment of female pattern alopecia; ZD Draelos et al; December 2005
- Nutrition Health Articles: Find vitamins for hair loss