Just like skin and nails, your hair is a good indicator of your overall health. If you're vitamin deficient, your hair will suffer. Several vitamins have been shown to have especially positive effects on hair thickness and growth. Remember, though, that thick hair is genetic. Vitamins won't work miracles, although they can improve or restore your hair's health.
Vitamin A & Zinc
Healthy hair grows from a healthy scalp, and vitamin A keeps your scalp balanced and lubricated. It regulates the production of sebum, which is an oily, moisturising substance that keeps your hair moisturised. If you're vitamin A deficient, your scalp will become dry and sebum production will slow, which in turn dries out your hair. You'll find vitamin A in eggs, fortified milk, fish oil, liver, dark leafy greens, and red, yellow, or orange fruits and veggies.
Take care not to overdose on vitamin A that comes from animals ("preformed" vitamin A). Adults should have no more than 10,000 IU per day. Side effects from too much vitamin A include dizziness, vomiting, blurry vision and muscle uncoordination. Long-term effects include birth defects and osteoporosis.
Zinc, which is also good for hair and scalp health, is necessary for the body to move vitamin A from the liver (where it's stored) to the body tissues. Zinc deficiency may result in dry, brittle hair or hair loss. Get zinc from oysters or pumpkin seeds (two of the highest zinc providers). It's also found in chicken, red meat, beans, nuts and fortified foods.
The B-complex group of vitamins are essential for healthy hair. Members of the B-complex family are thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin, folic acid and B12. Taking enough of these vitamins leads to hair growth, shine and volume.
Niacin: good for healthy scalp circulation and hair re-growth. Pantothenic acid and biotin: help to produce keratin and prevent hair loss. Pyridoxine, folic acid, and B12: help to form haemoglobin, which carries oxygen through the body. Without enough oxygen to the hair follicles, hair is damaged and grows slowly.
You can take a B-complex supplement, but try to get most of your daily requirement from food. These vitamins can be found in beans, soy, cereal grains, dairy, eggs, meat, fish, cauliflower, carrots, peas, and yeast.
Vitamins C & E
Vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin, helps with scalp circulation and sebum production. A vitamin C deficiency can result in a dry scalp and hair. It's found in many fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli and tomatoes. Rose hips are also very high in vitamin C.
Vitamin E is fat-soluble, which means that it's easier to overdose on it, since the body stores it more easily than vitamin C. It also helps with scalp circulation, supplying oxygen to hair cells. It can be found in whole grains, leafy greens, egg yolks, nuts, and sardines.