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Want Healthy Hair Growth? Best Supplements, Vitamins & Foods
By Dr. Josh Axe
February 6, 2023
While products like expensive conditioners and hair masks might help your tresses to look more silky and shiny, a healthy diet and lifestyle can actually encourage your hair to be more lustrous.
When it comes to your diet and supplement choices, what helps to support healthy hair growth naturally and fight hair breakage?
As explained more below, some of the best foods and supplements for hair growth are those that provide the vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids that your body needs to maintain healthy hair follicles. These include certain supplements like collagen and omega 3s and generally nutrient-rich foods like eggs, wild-caught fish, grass-fed meats, vegetables and fruits.
Supplements and other products can also come in handy by helping to fill in gaps in your diet. For example, nutrients like collagen protein, zinc and vitamin C can help support or even improve the overall quality and health of your hair, nails and skin.
The natural hormonal changes that occur as we age can lead to hair changes, as can some lifestyle choices, such as the use of some medications as well as too much stress and coming up short on certain nutrients.
While adult men experience more hair thinness on average than adult women do, and typically deal with it earlier in life, both genders are susceptible to dealing with hair that’s not as thick as they wish (or even hair breakage) as they normally age.
In fact, adults are estimated to normally lose between 50 and 100 hair strands every single day. It isn’t always noticeable how much hair we’re constantly shedding because we’re growing new strands at the same time — that is until there starts to be some changes, such as hair not being as thick as usual or hair breakage.
By the time men reach the age of 50, nearly 85 percent will experience changes with their hair, according to some statistics.
And by the age of 35, approximately two-thirds of American men will experience some degree of change to their hair. Truth be told, about 25 percent of men who eventually see major changes with their hair can notice changes beginning as early as their 20’s.
Hair thickness and breakage are also a concern for women, including those who are going through the normal aging process. In fact, approximately 33 percent of women experience changes in their hair at some point in their lives.
While optimizing your diet should be your No. 1 priority when it comes to obtaining more nutrients, taking a holistic approach to health by also supplementing can help to improve hair health and promote growth. Of course, you should always consult with your healthcare professional prior to beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen.
Try incorporating some of these superfoods and products below into your routine, which are among the best supplements for overall hair health and growth:
Does collagen work for hair growth? Yes. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, helping to form hair strands, the skin on your scalp, as well as your nails and many other types of connective tissues.
While collagen can be obtained from drinking real, traditional bone broth, the best way to consume a hefty serving of this valuable protein is to use a collagen protein powder supplement. Ancient Nutrition’s Multi Collagen Protein Powders combine hydrolyzed collagen (10 types of collagen) to provide a broad spectrum of collagen benefits, including support for healthy hair, skin, nails, joints and more.
Multi Collagen Protein is the industry's only collagen that includes ingredients backed by human clinical trials. It's been shown to promote healthy hair thickness and growth while reducing hair breakage.
Multi Collagen Protein Beauty Within formula also features a clinically studied blend of phytonutrient-dense fruits and vegetables like acai berry, asparagus shoot, pomegranate fruit and others to support overall skin health and skin elasticity.
How much collagen per day? Collagen serving sizes will range from 1.5 grams (such as Multi Collagen capsules) to 20 grams, depending on the form and type of product. The recommended serving size for Multi Collagen Protein powders is one scoop, which is 10.2 grams. You can also double it for a 20 gram serving. For the Collagen Peptides powder, the serving size is 20 grams.
This amount of collagen can be added to a beverage, like water, coffee or a smoothie. You can also add it to recipes, like pancakes or oatmeal.
Omega-3s are fatty acids that help nourish hair, support hair thickening and promote a healthy response to inflammation that may help support overall hair health. Studies indicate that supplementing for at least six months with omega-3, omega-6 and antioxidants can have a positive impact on hair growth.
Most adults can benefit from taking one to two omega-3 capsules or one tablespoon of a top-notch fish oil supplement daily.
Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a part in maintaining the health of our hair, nails and skin. It acts like a coenzyme, supporting the body’s agility to absorb other key micro and macronutrients.
Low intake of biotin has been linked to weak hair and nails, hair breakage, and dry skin, so obtaining higher amounts may offer some benefits in these areas. However, deficiency is generally thought to be rare.
While some beauty products contain biotin that is applied to the skin, it’s thought that it’s best absorbed and used by the body when it’s ingested, including when you eat biotin-rich foods (like organ meats, eggs, avocado, fish and legumes) and take biotin supplements.
Biotin can be found as part of B-complex supplements (Ancient Nutrition's Vitamin B Complex includes 300 micrograms of biotin, which is 1,000% Daily Value), which include a full spectrum of B vitamins, which all work together.
There isn’t a recommended daily amount of biotin; however the “adequate intake” amount (generally enough to defend against deficiency) is 30 micrograms for male and female adults over 19 years old.
For the best hair and skin health results, a general recommendation is to aim for higher amounts from your diet plus supplements, depending upon what your healthcare professional recommends. Most people need to take biotin for 3 to 6 months consistently to see improvements in their appearance (if they experience any). (Learn how biotin compares to collagen.)
Sometimes hair health can be affected by coming up short on certain vitamins; however, shortfalls can be managed by adding vitamin-rich foods to your diet and taking high-quality supplements.
Which vitamins are best for supporting overall hair health?
Biotin and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) have been used to support overall hair health for decades. Vitamin B5 and biotin may help to support healthy hair fibers and boost pliability, giving hairs a better chance at reducing breakage.
You’ll also find biotin and pantothenic acid in most high-quality multivitamins; ideally choose one made from real food sources that doesn’t contain fillers or toxins in order to get the most benefits.
Zinc is an essential co-factor for multiple enzymes including those involved with activities that create and maintain healthy hair follicles. It may help hair health in part by supporting collagen synthesis.
Oxidative stress is thought to play a major role in the normal aging process. By helping to support a higher antioxidant status and a healthy immune response, vitamin C can help support the body against free radicals that can directly affect hair health. Vitamin C is also involved in collagen synthesis, meaning it promotes a healthy scalp and hair strands.
What should you eat to support healthy hair? Here are some of the best foods for hair growth, based on the fact that they provide the vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids that your body needs to maintain healthy hair:
Antioxidant-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are the perfect foods for growing hair since they fight free radical damage and help support healthy hair.
Fill up on colorful foods like oranges, red peppers, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cocoa, strawberries, sweet potatoes, acai, grapefruit, kiwi and mango to obtain more antioxidants and key vitamins.
Protein foods provide your body with amino acids, the building blocks that help to form hair strands. A lack of protein in one’s diet has been shown to be linked to also having effects on hair health and growth.
Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and herring are especially good for hair health since they are high in both protein and omega 3s, healthy fats that can aid in hair’s appearance and structure.
Many protein foods such as organ meats, dark poultry meat and beef are also high in iron, which is needed to support healthy iron levels, which are important for hair health as well.
Fatty acids including omega 3s, omega 6s and omega 9s can help to support hair strength, shine and hair density. Incorporate plenty of fat-containing foods into your diet like salmon, mackerel, tuna, white fish, sardines, egg yolks, walnuts, hemp seeds, almonds, flax seeds, olive oil and coconut oil.
Eggs are particularly a great source of healthy fats for your hair, as well as zinc, selenium and other hair-healthy nutrients.
Avocados are a great source of vitamin E, which can help fight free radicals and promote the way your body uses oxygen, increasing circulation to your scalp. Avocados are also high in healthy fats that support hair’s shine and strength.
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are among the most nutrient-dense fruits, prized for their antioxidants and high amount of vitamin C and vitamin A. These nutrients can help boost collagen production and support a healthy immune system, helping follicles to remain strong and supporting hair thickness and reducing hair breakage.
Veggies such as Swiss chard, spinach, kale and cabbage are high in vitamins A, C, and K – musts for hair growth. Vitamin K also plays an important role in maintaining healthy circulation, promoting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the tissues in your scalp.
Grains such as wheat, barley, oats and brown rice all contain silica, a natural building block of collagen, which helps to form hair strands.
Biotin is involved in synthesis of the protein called keratin, which helps to give hair its structure. Eating biotin and vitamin B5 foods — such as eggs, beef, chicken, avocado, legumes, nuts and potatoes — helps you to keep biotin levels up and aids in hair growth and thickness.
Now that you know about the best foods for hair health and overall growth, you’re probably wondering, what foods are best for your hair?
Overall, the goal is to eat a nutrient-dense diet and to support a healthy response to inflammation and oxidative stress. To do this, it’s best to avoid or limit the following foods:
Foods with added sugar, which contribute to an imbalance of yeast and microbes in the gut which affects nutrient absorption.
Trans fats/hydrogenated fats, which are added to many packaged/processed foods and can negatively impact overall metabolism.
Refined vegetable oils (like canola, corn and soybean oils), which supply lots of omega-6s which many people already get plenty of.
Refined grain products such as cereals, breads, pasta, rolls, cookies, etc. that are mostly considered “empty calories.”
Pasteurized dairy products, which can sometimes be an allergen and cause gut issues.
Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CNS, is a doctor of chiropractic, doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food and nutrition. He operates leading natural health website DrAxe.com and is co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, a health supplement company. He’s also author of the books Eat Dirt, Essential OIls: Ancient Medicine, Keto Diet, Collagen Diet and the newly released Ancient Remedies.