Our hair can be such an important part of how we present and feel about ourselves. It adds an essential dimension to our appearance and, in some cases, is a visible manifestation of our bodily health.
If you suffer from hair loss or you’re an avid health researcher, you might have heard of the many benefits of vitamin B for hair growth and general wellness. In this blog, we’ll walk you through some of these claims and discuss the benefits of vitamin B for hair, including popular ones like biotin and B12.
There are eight types of B-vitamins. Together, they’re called the vitamin B-complex. You can find them in a variety of foods, including whole grains, red meat, poultry, fish, leafy vegetables, and more. You can often find them marketed as supplements as well. If you have a balanced diet, there is every chance you can get your full complement of vitamin B-complex through your diet instead of needing supplements.
B vitamins have plenty of health benefits. They help maintain energy levels, repair cells, and absorb proteins. But are they truly good for hair growth? Well, there is some data to suggest that there is a relationship between benefits for hair and B vitamins, including B12 and B7. Much of this is still subject to research, but there’s no doubt that vitamin B is an essential ingredient for hair growth, considering the impact it has on other bodily functions.
There are many beliefs and benefits associated with B-complex vitamins:
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Thiamine plays an important role in metabolism. It helps convert nutrients stored as glucose and amino acids into energy the body can use. This is good for the hair too, since unregulated sugar levels can lead to hormonal imbalance, which can contribute to hair loss.
While it might not play a direct role in determining hair growth, B1 is incredibly important for critical body functions. Your heart and liver, for example, have high concentrations of vitamin B1. This vitamin also regulates healthy brain function by creating important neurotransmitters as well as modulating hormones that can impact both mental and physical development.
Vitamin B1 deficiencies don’t immediately spell disaster for your hair, but they can lead to a loss in weight, appetite, and cardiovascular complications.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Riboflavin is crucial for cell function, metabolism, and energy production. It helps break down fats and steroids and create proteins in the body. A deficiency in B2 can result in various skin complications, including mouth sores, growths, and even hair loss.
You can easily find riboflavin in protein-rich foods, including meat, cereals, and dairy products. Interestingly, riboflavin-rich foods also have an overlap with vitamin B12, which means they do have great benefits for hair growth. Organ meats in particular are an excellent choice for people that want an all-rounder food that’ll cover multiple vitamin complexes at once.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Niacin also helps convert nutrients into energy, it repairs DNA, and has antioxidant effects. This vitamin B can be good for hair when applied superficially. Diving deeper, the most important role played by Niacin is to create coenzymes, these are what give the body the energy it needs from different proteins and carbs. They also affect your metabolism, so if you’re looking to lose weight, this might be a good bet.
The usual poultry and organ meats will contain high amounts of B3. This vitamin is, however, harder for vegetarians to acquire naturally as it’s present in plants in a form that’s hard for the body to process naturally. An alternative here could be fortified whole foods that have artificial additions of niacin in a usable form.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Pantothenic acid helps in the breakdown of fat and regulation of cholesterol. Research suggests a correlation between vitamin B5 and the promotion of cardiovascular health.
This vitamin B can indirectly be good for your hair growth as it plays a part in regulating your appetite and diet, a deficiency which is directly connected to hair loss. You’ll note that vitamin B12 has similar benefits for hair related issues.
This vitamin is relatively easier to come by as most things you eat will contain pantothenic acid in some form. That said, you can consume foods like poultry, seeds, and avocados if you’d like to increase your intake. Avocados are a particularly great choice here as they are also a popular source of antioxidants as well as vitamins. The free radical protection you’ll get from those antioxidants pairs nicely with the health benefits of vitamin B.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
B6 compounds play a diverse role in the human body, including prominently in enzyme production and protein metabolism. It also supports the immune system and the production of hemoglobin.
Foods rich in B6 include organ meats, fish, and tuna. Vegetarian options like potatoes contain vitamin B6 albeit in smaller concentrations. Nutrient-boosted cereals are also a good choice here for vegetarians as they generally contain higher concentrations than one would find in chickpeas or potatoes.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
It’s widely believed that this type of vitamin B is good for healthy hair, skin, and nail formation. Biotin is important for a lot of reasons, including a healthy immune system and tissue repair in the body. This is why you’ll often find biotin supplements for hair and the skin.
There’s been a lot of debate on the benefits of nutrients like biotin and vitamin B12 for hair growth. Biotin in particular has been focused on as a miracle cure for hair loss. While studies are still ongoing, there’s no doubt that biotin does benefit hair if the person taking it is deficient. For patients suffering from alopecia or hair loss stemming from other issues, biotin might not be as effective.
Not only is vitamin B7 good for your hair, but it also has a host of other benefits:
- It’s safe to use due to its high solubility. Biotin dissolves quite easily in your bloodstream and is hard to overdose on. That said, you should limit your daily intake to an amount prescribed by a doctor.
- Research suggests that biotin might help patients with diabetes by regulating blood sugar.
- Biotin helps break protein down into useful enzymes, making it especially useful for people struggling with sluggishness and low energy.
It might not be a miracle cure, but the general benefits of this vitamin B for hair, nails, and mental wellbeing make it a crucial part of any diet.
Vitamin B9 (Folate)
Folate, or folic acid, plays a key role in the synthesis of DNA. It also helps produce red blood cells in the body. It’s worth noting that there is a distinct difference between folate and folic acid. Folate refers to the natural form of the vitamin obtained through leafy greens and meat, while folic acid is its synthetic counterpart found in vitamin pills.
Along with vitamin B12, folic acid is known for benefiting healthy hair growth. The most notable use of folic acid is, however, as a supplement for pregnant women. Getting the recommended amount of folate through a natural diet of leafy greens can be an uphill task for pregnant women, which is where folic acid comes in. That is to say that the direct effects of folate on hair are debatable, and it’s just one of the many types of vitamin B required for healthy hair.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Cobalamin plays a crucial role in protein metabolism and contributes to improved brain function. While there isn’t much evidence to suggest B12 supplements will improve hair growth, vitamin B12 has benefits for hair health.
Cobalamin can most commonly be found in various animal products like clams, liver, and beef. Due to how prevalent it is in animal products, vegetarians might have to use supplements to get their daily quota of nutrients. As always, certain fortified cereals may also contain a healthy concentration of vitamin B12
Can Vitamin B Boost Hair Growth?
General health benefits aside, the benefits of vitamin B for hair growth have been fiercely debated, and the current research paints a confusing picture. Certain types of vitamin B such as biotin can indeed boost hair growth in people with deficiencies. That said, it won’t be very effective for men suffering from male pattern baldness. This applies to other types of vitamin B as well.
While it might not be an immediate cure for hair loss, not getting the recommended amount of vitamin B can certainly cause hair loss. Therefore, it’s always best to treat vitamin B as a part of an overall healthier diet that promotes hair health rather than growth. A holistic approach towards hair health can bring you long term benefits in the form of thicker hair and nails.
While B-complex vitamins are clearly indispensable for the body, there is still ongoing research on the benefits of taking vitamin B supplements. Research shows they do the most good when there is a deficiency of that nutrient in the body, either because of a lack of a balanced diet, or simply a natural deficiency in our food sources. If you’d like to know more about the benefits of vitamin B for hair, check out our biotin supplements or contact us. We’re happy to answer your questions.