If your hair looks flat and lifeless, or if your nails are thin and brittle, you may simply think that you’ve been cursed with bad genetics, but there’s often more to it than that.
You see, your nails and hair are alive at the cuticles and follicles, and if you want beautiful hair and long and strong nails, you need to be thinking about whether you’re giving your body the right fuel to do this.
While yes, genetics will play a part in how thick or thin your hair is, and how thick your nails grow naturally, but if they are brittle this is likely a nutritional issue. So what vitamins and minerals should you ensure is in your diet for healthy hair and nails?
(Remember, nails are essentially made out of hair, so what’s good for one is good for the other!)
Best Vitamins for Hair Growth
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is essential for all your cells, but is one of the best vitamins to grow hair. Vitamin A helps your body produce sebum, which helps keep your scalp and hair healthy. Sebum is the name for the natural oils your skin produces, and while overproduction can lead to problems like acne, more vitamin A does not equal more sebum, so it’s important to ensure you’re eating enough vitamin A to balance your body’s sebum production.
If you’re not getting enough vitamin A you may experience dry, itchy skin, dandruff, and even hair loss. (Some studies have found that too much vitamin A can also lead to hair loss, though the amounts consumed by the test subjects was extreme.
You can find vitamin A in brightly coloured foods such as carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, red peppers, spinach, and kale. Brightly coloured vegetables contain something called beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body.
2. B Vitamins for Hair Growth
The best-known vitamin to help with hair and nail growth is called biotin. Biotin is a b vitamin often used as a hair loss treatment, though most studies have found the greatest effects in those who are deficient in it.
Other B vitamins are also vital because they assist in the production and health of our red blood cells, which carry oxygen and nutrients around the body, including to our follicles and cuticles. If our blood cells aren’t working optimally, the health of our hair and nails is one of the first things they drop off their to-do list, in favour of ensuring vital organs get the oxygen and nutrition they need.
B vitamins are found in many different natural food sources, and biotin is one you’ll likely be eating readily if you eat a well-balanced diet. If your hair and nails are looking tired and brittle, up your B vitamin intake and watch them improve.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and is one of the best vitamins we have to combat the damage that can be caused by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that essentially act like a bull in a china shop (that is your cell) and cause often irreparable damage, leading to early signs of aging and oxidative stress.
Vitamin C is also one of the best vitamins for hair and nail growth because it helps the body produce collagen, which not only helps our body stay looking full and youthful, it is also a protein that is essential for your hair.
Fortunately, vitamin C is found in many delicious fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, citrus fruits, and all peppers, so add something colourful to your daily diet.
4. Vitamin D
If you think of the sun when you think about vitamin D, you’re not alone, but while it is essential in helping you feel energised, it also helps prevent hair loss (otherwise known as alopecia). Vitamin D has been seen to assist in the production of new hair follicles, which slows the rate in which your hair thins with age.
Unless you live in a hot, sunny country, you’re likely not getting enough vitamin D in your diet, so it’s worth supplementing and getting out in the sun when you can (just ensure you’ve got a high SPF sunscreen on), because our bodies produce it naturally when in contact with the sun’s rays.
5. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is another antioxidant that can slow the appearance of aging, but it is the unsung hero of not just preventing hair loss but increasing hair growth. In a study by the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Malaysia, participants who were already experiencing hair loss experienced a huge 34.5% increase in hair growth after supplementing their diet with additional vitamin E, while the placebo group experienced almost no increase (0.1%).
If you’re looking for thick, luscious hair and nails, you should be eating sources high in vitamin E, where possible. Nuts, seeds, spinach and avocados are excellent sources of vitamin E, but if you’re looking for the kind of hair growth found in the study, you’ll need to supplement your intake.
Fortunately, the vitamins we’ve covered today are found naturally in many of the healthy fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains we should be eating daily, but it’s not always easy to eat a healthy balanced diet.
The best way to ensure you’re supporting your hair and nail growth effectively is to take a multivitamin.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how your nutrition can help you look happier and healthier, read our post on the top vitamins for glowing skin.
Looking for the perfect multivitamin? Check out our supercharged ethical multivitamin.