By Laura Holton
Even the most balanced diet may not be sufficient to postpone hair loss and promote faster hair growth. By combining healthy eating with taking daily supplements, the hair receives all the vitamins and minerals it needs to prevent hair loss and grow faster.
Older women frequently suffer from iron deficiency, which leads most commonly to anemia and reduction of blood cells. What is less often diagnosed as a result of this deficiency, however, is hair loss, according to Samantha Heller, MS, RD, nutritionist at NYU Medical Center. Iron is important for hair growth as it functions to bring oxygen to the cells, including those of the hair follicles.
Another deficiency commonly found in women who are suffering from hair loss is that of vitamin B12, according to Ted Daly, MD. Supplements help to regain the necessary levels and can lead to reduction in hair loss.
Other B vitamins are also essential for speeding up hair growth, particularly biotin. A healthy diet usually contains around 30 to 50 mcg while Daly, a clinical professor of dermatology, recommends 3 mg for those looking to treat hair loss.
Zinc is used by the body to help grow and repair tissue, including that of the hair, and maintains the proper functioning of the oil glands around the hair follicles. Zinc also affects the level of androgens – hormones connected to genetic hair loss. However, some nutritionists warn against taking zinc supplements, as this needs to be balanced with copper intake. Often, the amount found in a multi-vitamin is sufficient, as the user may experience adverse effects, including hair loss, if the mineral is taken in excess.
Amino acids are quickly consumed by hair follicles. When in short supply, the body struggles to produce hair fiber. While there are many different types, the most important amino acids for hair growth include arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine, all of which should be found in a healthy diet. A further amino acid, cysteine, is more often taken as a supplement, as it may not be present in the recommended quantities in food alone.
Further supplements to improve hair growth include those of beta carotene, flaxseed oil, magnesium, sulfur, nettle, silica, vitamin B6, vitamin C with bioflavonoids, and vitamin E. While shampoos and conditioners sometimes contain these ingredients, taking them in capsule or tablet form allow the body to gain more of the benefits.