We've all desired thicker, longer, healthier hair at some point in our lifetimes. But the truth is, growing longer hair isn't so cut and dried. There's no simple equation or formula that will guarantee longer locks in weeks. In fact, there are a slew of factors that can affect your hair growth (or lack thereof). The good news is, there are also a variety of vitamins that experts say can, in fact, give you longer, stronger hair over time.*
Whether you're simply looking to sport a new, longer 'do, your hair is naturally thinning, or you've seen some shedding uptake, don't fret. It's certainly possible to attain your length and thickness goals with the help of some mane-boosting vitamins for hair growth.*
We tapped a certified trichologist to get the scoop on these hair-boosting vitamins and how they work. And while you can reach for a hair growth supplement to reach your goals, incorporating these vitamins into your diet is beneficial, too.* Keep scrolling for six vitamins (well five vitamins and one mineral) for hair growth that actually work:*
When you think of vitamin C, brighter skin and strong immune systems are likely the first thing to come to mind.* But the truth is, it also has numerous hair benefits, too.
"Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron, which is one of the most critical nutrients for your hair,"* certified trichologist and founder of Advanced Trichology William Gaunitz, FWTS, says. And remember that resilient immune system we mentioned previously? Gaunitz says a robust immune system allows the scalp to combat microbes that shouldn't be there at a more efficient level that will then improve hair growth, too.* Check out our favorite vitamin c supplements here.
Vitamin E is a lipid-soluble antioxidant, a bioactive compound that is able to neutralize free radicals in the skin, hair, and body.* "Depending on its purity and source, vitamin E can be great for reducing free radicals, improving collagen, and reducing oxidative stress in the scalp," Gaunitz says, "which in turn enhances hair growth."* In fact, one study found that after taking vitamin E supplements for eight months, participants experienced 34% of increased hair growth.*
Additionally, it can help scalp health: Some studies have indicated that vitamin E can help enhance overall body circulation.* Circulation has also been linked to healthy hair growth. So many hair experts conclude that by using vitamin E, you may be able to promote scalp circulation.*
Although vitamin is in the name, Gaunitz says vitamin D3 is not actually a vitamin but a hormone (in its active form). Either way, he believes it's critical for hair growth.* In fact, insufficient levels of vitamin D have been linked to hair shedding.* (Almost all Americans are failing to consume just 400 I.U. of vitamin D from their daily diet, and clinical vitamin D insufficiency persists in almost half of the population—41%, to be exact.) "Vitamin D3 directly interacts with hair follicles, and when D3 levels aren't optimal, it can decrease the volume of hair on the scalp and throughout the body,"* Gaunitz says.
These are some of our favorite vitamin D supplements.
While there are more studies needed to prove the effectiveness of this essential B vitamin for the health of hair, there is some research that finds a connection between folic acid and hair growth.*
Folic acid's main purpose is to generate new cells, which can have an effect on the keratinization of hair during the hair growth phase, Gaunitz says.* Not to mention, it's a vitamin often found in multivitamins and prenatal vitamins, which expecting mamas often thank for long, luscious locks.*
Also known as vitamin B3, niacin helps to improve circulation throughout the body, scalp included.* And when the scalp has an increase in blood flow, the scalp is at optimal health, and we all know healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp.* While this vitamin won't bring you waist-grazing locks on its own, it's certainly helpful when combined with other hair-boosting vitamins and minerals.*
According to Gaunitz, iron is the most critical mineral for the hair.* "Ferritin is your iron storage protein, and when that is low because you don't have enough iron regularly input into your diet, your hair volume will decline to compensate for your body's need for iron.”* Uh-oh is right.
Gaunitz says the hair will only return once there's enough iron being consumed on a regular basis. Iron-rich foods include beef, chicken, eggs, spinach, sweet potatoes, and beans. If you're concerned about your iron levels, consult a doctor for guidance before reaching for a supplement.
While there's no magic bullet for longer, thicker hair, there are a number of vitamins and nutrients that we know are involved with hair health. Focus on getting adequate amounts of them, and see where it gets you.
Andrea Jordan is a beauty and lifestyle freelance writer covering topics from hair and skincare to family and home. She received her bachelor's in Magazine Journalism from Temple University and you can find her work at top publications like InStyle, PopSugar, StyleCaster, Business Insider, PureWow and OprahMag. When she's not writing, you can find Andrea tackling new recipes in the kitchen or babysitting one of her many nieces and nephews. She currently resides in New Jersey with her husband and cat, Silas.