Takeaway: Although hair supplements have yet to reach conclusive evidence proving their effectiveness, they are a natural way of boosting one’s overall health. Hair-related issues such as hair loss and premature greying are usually caused by underlying health issues. But, with the help of these hair supplements, not only is there a chance to improve hair health, but there is also an opportunity to achieve optimal health.
In today’s society, we are constantly bombarded with unrealistic standards of beauty; from ads that pressure women into unhealthy diets to magazines that encourage body-altering surgeries. It seems that many have lost sight of the only beauty standard that truly matters- being healthy.
Good health is often overlooked, especially in a world where one can easily hide dark circles from a sleepless night or any skin condition that indicates an underlying health issue. But even so, it’s an undeniable fact that healthy is beautiful. One good example of this is how people associate beauty with having healthy hair.
The hair and scalp can reveal more than just a person’s hygiene habits. Issues like hair loss, damaged hair, premature greying, and even flaky hair can be a sign of illness. While not all of them lead to a serious disease, reversing its effects on one’s hair isn’t as easy as it seems. Thankfully, there are a lot of hair supplements that don’t just improve the condition of the hair, but they can also boost one’s physical health.
Hair Supplements for What?
In pursuit of thicker and fuller hair, a lot of people don’t just depend on their arsenal of shampoos and hair care products. Many people also look to hair supplements with hopes of solving persistent hair-related issues such as premature hair loss and grey hair.
Surprisingly, hair supplements are so popular that people are willing to spend approximately $176 million annually for supplements for hair growth. But, the question is, are they really effective and are they worth that much money? Read on below to find out more.
Supplements for Hair Growth
The hair supplements and hair vitamin industry is a growing business. New products, formulas, and supplement types are introduced around the clock. And, with so many options out there, it can be daunting for a consumer to choose just one among a plethora of pills and powders.
Before purchasing any kind of hair supplement, it is vital to understand what the hair needs to resolve the issue. Although hair supplements are safe to consume and very unlikely to cause any serious health problems, choosing the wrong type will just inevitably become a pointless attempt at improving hair health. Not to mention, a waste of money.
Below are some of the most common hair supplements in the market today. Most brands carry products that have a mixture of two or more of the vitamins and nutrients below. If you would like to resolve more than one hair problem, it is a good idea to pick hair supplements that contain a combination of the following:
Biotin, also known as vitamin B5, is one of the B-complex vitamins needed to convert food into energy in the body. Biotin has a wide range of benefits, from decreasing blood sugar in diabetics to promoting healthy fetal development in pregnant women. But, it is more commonly known for its role in maintaining healthy hair, skin, and nails. This is primarily the reason why biotin is the popular choice of hair supplements.
Although no conclusive evidence proves the effectivity of biotin hair supplements, some studies have reason to believe that it is a viable solution to hair loss. Biotin is identified as a coenzyme that contributes to the production of protein amino acids like keratin. And, because the hair is made out of protein, it makes sense to believe that biotin is directly related to the overall condition of the hair.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
On average, hair typically grows about half a millimeter per day or approximately half an inch every month. Also, approximately 50 to 100 strands of hair are lost every day. When this happens, the follicle on the scalp would then form a new strand of hair to replace the one that was lost. But for those who lack proper nutrition, most especially a lack of omega 3 fatty acids, their hair follicles may fail to reproduce new hair, thus resulting in hair loss.
Omega 3 is widely used for its anti-inflammatory purposes. Studies show that keeping the scalp healthy and hydrated is the key to hair growth and one way to achieve this is by including more omega 3 into one’s diet. Not only does it promote hair growth and support hair thickening, but it also reduces hair loss caused by inflammation on the scalp.
Zinc hair supplements are also known for its role in enhancing hair follicle health. Studies show that zinc prevents hair follicle regression while also promoting hair follicle recovery. This was especially evident among people with alopecia areata, also known as spot baldness.
According to the study, those with the said condition also had a zinc deficiency. But with supplementation of oral zinc compounds, significant improvements in hair growth was evident among those with alopecia areata.
Another study in 2013 states that women suffering from hair loss due to hypothyroidism and PCOS may also benefit from zinc supplements. Researchers involved in the study found that hypothyroid women with hair loss showed significant improvements after a period of consuming zinc supplements daily.
Apart from zinc deficiency, some studies have also found that iron deficiency may be a cause for alopecia areata. Similar to zinc supplements, consuming iron may also be a way to improve hair growth and overall hair health. However, it is important to note that overdosing on both iron and zinc supplements may result in poisoning.
Symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain are common indicators of zinc or iron poisoning. It is crucial to follow the recommended daily dosage of both supplements and to get the advice of a doctor or homeopath before consuming these supplements.
On the bright side, this rule only applies to oral supplements and multivitamins. Although many food choices go over the daily recommended amount of zinc and iron, consuming these nutrients through food does not cause toxicity.
If you’re looking for a potential solution to hair loss and hair graying, loading up on vitamin C may be the best option. Although inevitable as we age, various study shows that oxidative stress is a major cause of premature aging. This is perhaps the reason why we often see younger people with significant hair loss or greying hair.
Free radicals directly damage cellular structural membranes, proteins, and DNA. The problem begins when free radicals increase the number of antioxidative enzymes in the body. These enzymes are supposed to defend the body, but due to the destruction brought about by free radicals, cells are damaged, causing the aging of hair.
Meanwhile, vitamin C is a popular antioxidant that fights oxidative stress and free radical damage. By consuming supplements or vitamin C rich foods, the hair also avoids aging and graying because the body is well protected from potential cell damage.
Some medical evidence shows that vitamin D deficiency causes hair loss and other hair-related issues. Similar to zinc, vitamin D also stimulates hair follicles to grow. That said, a lack of vitamin D can significantly cause hair loss.
Interestingly, those with alopecia areata don’t just have lower zinc levels, but low vitamin D levels as well. And, because both zinc and vitamin D both have significant roles in maintaining hair growth, it may be safe to assume that both nutrients can also help improve hair-related problems – especially for those with zinc or vitamin D deficiency.
Supplements for Hair Loss
All the vitamin supplements above promote overall hair health. But, if you’re looking for supplements that target hair loss, there are quite a few viable options.
One quick stroll at the shampoo aisle in the supermarket and you’ll find a handful of products containing collagen. It is a long-chain amino acid that is responsible for skin elasticity. It is present in a wide range of body tissues, including the hair. That said, collagen plays a crucial role in maintaining hair strength and elasticity. Studies show that a lack of collagen may result in excess shedding and breakage.
Supplements to Reverse Grey Hair
There is no solid evidence that proves gray hair can be reversed, but there is one supplement that shows promising results. For those who would like a more natural way to reverse grey hair, taking para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) may be the closest method to achieve it.
PABA is a chemical found in folic acid as well as certain foods such as egg, milk, and meat. It is taken orally to heal certain conditions. Interestingly, PABA is commonly known as a sunscreen when used topically. It is also used to treat arthritis, anemia, and rheumatic fever. But more importantly, a lot of people also take it to darken gray hair and to prevent hair loss. However, further research is needed to prove its effectivity.
The Best Collagen Supplements for Skin and Hair
There are various types of collagen supplements in the market today. And, while names and labels may be confusing, all collagen supplements strive to do the same thing: to nourish the skin and hair. However, there is one type of collagen that is more preferred by the public, and that is collagen peptide.
Collagen and collagen peptide are basically the same thing, but they differ in terms of the length of the collagen molecules. Collagen peptide molecules are significantly shorter than collagen molecules, making them more bioavailable and easier to break down in the bloodstream upon digestion. Otherwise, any collagen supplement will suffice in maintaining hair and skin health.
It is also important to note that the appropriate levels of collagen highly depends on the individual’s age and overall health condition. While cases related to collagen overdose are very rare, the rule of thumb is to never overdose on any type of supplement no matter how many health benefits they may provide.
Biotin Supplements for Hair
There are various types of biotin supplements for hair health in the market today. From pills to liquid form, from shampoo to the ever popular gummies. The quality of each product will depend on its formula and the brand. But in general, most biotin supplements will depend on how consistent your intakes are.
Most people don’t see noticeable results until after months of consumption. Although some studies claim to have seen results in as early as 90 days, it is important to remember that our bodies are unique and therefore, will react differently to certain supplements. What may work for other people may not work for us and vice versa. The safest approach one can take before taking biotin supplements for hair is to consult a doctor.
Biotin supplements for hair have also seen their fair share of controversy in the media. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published warnings about said supplements. It has been discovered that biotin intake causes erratic lab test results. Although you may not be taking lab tests every single day, it is important to consider its potential dangers.
When faced with a medical emergency, doctors may not be able to assist you medically without correct and accurate lab tests. And, if involved in life-threatening situations, biotin intake can immediately become a potential cause of death.
Supplements for Healthy Hair in General
All the supplements and vitamins listed above promotes healthy hair. Although there are not enough studies that prove their effectiveness in curing hair loss and reversing gray hair, they may be worth a try since they also provide a healthy boost for the body.
But, even so, nothing beats a nutrient-rich diet and regular exercise in achieving optimal health. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but with all the scientific research on health and nutrition, perhaps there is a reason to believe that beauty does not just lie in how we perceive ourselves, but also in the condition of our health.