Everyone seems to have better hair than me. It can’t decide if it’s straight or curly, and any humidity leaves me looking like a disgruntled poodle. After years of dying it, straightening it, slapping on a deep conditioner mask every so often and maybe getting it cut now and then, I realised that my hair would never look as good as I wanted it to if I didn’t start taking care of it properly.
And that doesn’t just mean expensive products and leaving it more than a year between ‘trims’. Healthy hair begins with a healthy diet, good nutrition, and hydration
Hair is the fastest growing tissue in the human body and, no matter how you style it, your hair deserves to be as healthy as the rest of you. The condition of your hair can tell you something about the condition of your overall health. Dry and brittle hair can be an indicator of stress, or a nutrient deficiency. Vitamin deficiencies can even be linked to hair loss in some cases.
Here are some of the vitamins which help to maintain your hair, keeping it healthy, and full of life.
Every single cell in our bodies needs Vitamin A for growth, including our luscious locks, and is one of the vitamins linked to hair loss when we don’t have enough Vitamin A in our diets (Mejia, Hodges and Rucker, 1979).
Not only is Vitamin A necessary for growth, it also helps with the production of sebum, an oily substance which helps to keep our scalp and hair follicles healthy. Luckily for us, a substance called beta-carotene is found in some tasty and nutritious foods, like carrots, sweet potato, kale, and spinach. This is then converted by the body into Vitamin A.
The B Vitamin Complex is made of 8 different substances, which are all needed by the body for good health. All 8 play a role in energy conversion and supporting our nervous system, but also affect other elements of the body individually. You can read more about which parts of the body each vitamin supports in this article.
One of the B Vitamins, biotin (B7) is only needed in small amounts to be beneficial. It helps to create fatty acids in the body, and the body can make biotin in the bowel. It can help to strengthen your hair, nails and improve your skin as it supports the production of keratin, a fibrous protein which makes up the majority of our hair tissue.
As with Vitamin A, biotin deficiencies have been linked to hair loss (Zempleni, Hassan and Wijeratne, 2008). Whilst there is no direct link between the other vitamins in the B Vitamin complex and hair health, they are all responsible for creating red blood cells, which carry oxygen and nutrients to your scalp.
Aside from B12 (which everyone should supplement with), B Vitamins are readily available in our diet, including in wholegrains, almonds and leafy greens.
The antioxidant properties of Vitamin C are really beneficial for our hair. Some of the damage that is done to our hair is through free radicals, which can accelerate ageing and prevent hair growth. It’s also part of the production process of collagen, a protein which is an important part of the structure of our hair. Vitamin C also helps with the absorption of iron, which is a mineral necessary for healthy hair growth (Trueb, 2009).
We all know that oranges are an excellent source of Vitamin C, but peppers, strawberries and guava are also great for getting Vitamin C into your diet. Berries, too, are excellent sources of Vitamin C, and are fantastic in a morning smoothie!
Whilst there is no link between Vitamin D and hair growth, a lack of this essential vitamin may well contribute to a decline in the health of your hair. In fact, some studies suggest that a deficiency in Vitamin D can increase the risk of developing Alopecia (Kim et al., 2012). We’ve written about the links between Vitamin D and hair loss, and how Vitamin D can reverse hair loss by stimulating follicle growth and the processing of keratin.
Usually, we can get all the Vitamin D we need from sunlight, but the NHS recommends everyone in the UK take a supplement in the winter months, between September and March as it is so pivotal to our overall health. Vivo Life’s plant-based liquid supplement of D3 & K2 can be taken all year around to help not only with your hair, but with your mood, heart and immune system.
Another way of preventing oxidative stress, Vitamin E’s antioxidant properties can help to prevent damage to our hair. Avocados, almonds and sunflower seeds are all good sources of Vitamin E.
I know, I know, it’s a mineral, not a vitamin, but iron gets an honourable mention due to its importance for preventing hair loss. One of the leading causes of hair loss is a condition called anaemia, which is caused by a lack of iron in the body. Spinach and lentils are a great source of iron. I love popping a handful of fresh spinach into basically everything I cook last minute - or you can always pop some in a smoothie.
Like iron, zinc is a mineral, but gets an honourable mention in this list as it helps to keep the oil glands around our hair follicles in peak condition. It also aids in hair growth and repair. Similar to iron, zinc can be found in spinach and lentils, so make room for them in your meal prep! Zinc is also found in pumpkin seeds, which make for a fantastic snack on the go!
Our hair is made almost entirely from protein, so making sure that we get enough protein in our diets is important for hair growth, maintenance and repair. Keratin, the substance from which our skin and nails are made, is a fibrous protein, so ensuring that you are having enough protein within your diet can also help with your hair health.
Whilst many of these sources are easy to come by in a whole foods plant-based diet, there is always the option to add a boost to our nutritional intake through supplementation. Vivo Life’s Vegan Multinutrient contains Vitamins A, B12 and D3, as well as Zinc and Iron to help your hair maintain its fullest potential.
Personally, I prefer to start my day with THRIVE, Vivo Life’s plant-based multinutrient and greens powder. Not only does it taste great (I add it to smoothie bowls quite a bit) it also contains biotin, Vitamins C and D3, as well as iron and zinc and many more. THRIVE is a great way to start your day with a nutritional boost to set you up, and keep your hair feeling full and happy!
I wish you all good hair days!
Almohanna, H.M., Ahmed, A.A., Tsatalis, J.P. and Tosti, A. (2019). The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review. Dermatology and therapy, [online] 9(1), pp.51–70. doi:10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6.
Kim, D.H., Lee, J.W., Kim, I.S., Choi, S.Y., Lim, Y.Y., Kim, H.M., Kim, B.J. and Kim, M.N. (2012). Successful Treatment of Alopecia Areata with Topical Calcipotriol. Annals of Dermatology, [online] 24(3), pp.341–344. doi:10.5021/ad.2012.24.3.341.
Bragulla, H.H. and Homberger, D.G. (2009). Structure and functions of keratin proteins in simple, stratified, keratinized and cornified epithelia. Journal of anatomy, [online] 214(4), pp.516–59. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7580.2009.01066.x.