Adequate intake of B complex vitamins such as biotin, niacin, cobalamin and pantothenic acid are essential for healthy hair and skin.
(Vitamin B7) Biotin and Hair
Biotin is an extremely important vitamin for hair health. Biotin is believed to make hair grow stronger and is one of the main ingredients in many hair care products.
Research has shown that biotin supplementation can improve hair problems in people with uncombable hair syndrome. This syndrome is characteristic of slow growing hair that can’t be combed flat. The biotin treatment was effective in increasing strength of the hair roots, and in accelerating the growth rate of hair.
Although rare, biotin deficiencies can result in hair loss, as well as thinning and breaking of hair.
Dietary sources of biotin are cooked egg yolks, brewer’s yeast, sardines, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, legumes, cauliflower, whole grains, mushrooms and bananas. Avoid processed foods as processing techniques destroy biotin.
Biotin is available as an individual supplement, as well as in B-vitamin complexes and multivitamins.
(Vitamin B5) Pantothenic Acid and Hair
Panthenol is the alcohol of pantothenic acid. Panthenol is the major constituent of several oral preparations claiming to enhance hair growth.
Research has shown that a combination supplement containing vitamin B5 improved hair growth in women with hair loss.
Dietary sources of pantothenic acid are brewer’s yeast, calf liver, peanuts, soybeans, mushrooms, pecans, split peas, sunflower seeds, oatmeal, lentils, buckwheat, rye flour, cashews and avocados.
(Vitamin B12) Cobalamin and Hair
There have been claims by some dieticians that vitamin B12 can promote hair growth. But any evidence to substantiate these claims is anecdotal. Even so, it is well established that vitamin B12 is important for the health of hair and skin. Vegetarians are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency as it’s found only in animal foods.
Dietary sources of vitamin B12 are shellfish, fish, eggs, dairy products, pork and beef.
Vitamin D and Hair
Research has established an association between vitamin D deficiency and hair loss. The vitamin D receptor is crucial to hair growth, rather than vitamin D itself. Vitamin D is what activates the receptor.
Research has suggested that vitamin D can help stem cells create new hair follicles.
There is little vitamin D found naturally in the food we eat. The best sources of vitamin D are fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, sardines, tuna and herring. Vitamin D is often added to some foods to increase dietary intake.