What are hair loss vitamins?
Hair loss vitamins are nutritional supplements that aim to improve the quality of your hair. There are various vitamins and minerals linked to hair health, and these are often sold as an effective way to reverse hair loss.
In this article we’ll look at what hair loss vitamins are, how they might work and the other hair loss treatments that might be suitable for men and women.
Why is my hair thinning?
Hair loss can be caused by a variety of things. For lots of people it’s hereditary and a natural part of getting older, this kind of hair loss is called male or female pattern hair loss.
For men, male pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss, with up to half of men aged 50 and over will have experienced it. For women, 40% of women aged 70 and over will have female pattern baldness.
Other than genetics, there are a few other things that can cause hair loss, these include:
Stress can sometimes contribute to hair loss. Extremely stressful periods can cause a condition called telogen effluvium. This is when your natural hair cycle has been disrupted due to stress and your hair temporarily falls out.
Stress can also trigger alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition which causes circular bald patches. This is usually temporary too.
If you’re stressed, you might find that you pull at your hair (sometimes without even noticing). This can cause your hair to fall out – this is known as trichotillomania.
Like with stress, being very ill can trigger telogen effluvium, and lead to your hair falling out.
Pregnancy and birth
After birth it’s common for women to lose more hair than usual.
Sometimes if you have your hair in tight hairstyles for long periods of time (tight buns, braids, extensions). This causes a type of hair loss called traction alopecia.
Sometimes weight loss can cause hair loss, particularly if it’s sudden or you’re not getting all the nutrients you need.
In rare cases a vitamin deficiency can contribute to hair loss - this is usually an iron deficiency. If a vitamin deficiency is the cause of your hair loss, then taking a supplement for that particular vitamin may be an effective solution.
But if you don't have a deficiency then supplementing extra vitamins will have no effect whatsoever upon your hair loss.
Can hair loss vitamins fix hair loss?
There is very little scientific evidence to suggest that taking vitamins specifically promotes hair growth. But hair loss vitamins may be effective if your hair loss is caused by a deficiency in a particular vitamin.
It’s true that a severe deficiency of biotin, zinc, niacin and iron can lead to hair loss, but this is very rare. And if you’re suffering from a severe vitamin deficiency which is causing symptoms as extreme as hair loss, it’s very likely that you’ll need medical treatment.
If you think you might have a vitamin deficiency, then please speak to your GP.
What kinds of hair vitamins are there?
There are lots of vitamin and supplements out there. But the most common supplements associated with hair health are:
Biotin (vitamin B7 or vitamin H) is used by your body to help make fatty acids. It’s thought it can help stimulate the production of keratin, which is key to healthy hair and nails.
The NHS recommends taking no more than 0.9mg of biotin per day as a supplement.
Selenium helps to keep the immune system healthy and also helps with reproductive health.
The NHS recommends taking no more than 0.35mg of selenium per day each day as a supplement.
Zinc helps your body make new cells and enzymes, process carbohydrate and protein and also healing wounds.
The NHS recommends taking no more than 25mg of zinc per day per day as a supplement.
Niacin (also known as vitamin B3) helps your body release energy from food. It also helps keep your skin and your nervous system healthy.
The NHS recommends taking no more than 500mg of nicotinamide supplements (niacin) per day per day as a supplement.
Vitamin C is very important for your body. It helps protect your cells, keeps you skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage healthy and also helps wounds to heal.
The NHS recommends taking no more than 1000mg of vitamin C per day as a supplement.
Iron is vital in the making of red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen around the body.
The NHS recommends taking no more than 17mg of iron per day as a supplement.
Ultimately, taking vitamin supplements is not thought to be particularly detrimental to your health as long as you do not take too many.
If you do take daily vitamin supplements for hair loss, check the ingredients to ensure you are not consuming more than the recommended daily dosages, as listed above.
Where can I buy hair loss vitamins?
Because hair loss vitamins are not endorsed by the NHS as a treatment for hair loss, they are usually not available for free. However, if you walk into any high street pharmacy or health food shop, you are likely to find an array of hair loss supplements and vitamins.
How can I avoid hair loss?
If your hair loss is hereditary, there’s not a great deal you can do to avoid it, and it’s unlikely hair loss will respond to vitamins.
Healthy hair is an extension of a healthy body - if you are in good health, exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet then you may be able to reduce the likelihood of losing your hair. A normal balanced diet, should already contain all of these vitamins. The best way to increase your vital minerals and vitamins is to increase the proportion of fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet.
Are there any medically endorsed hair loss treatments?
In the UK, only two hair loss medicines are actually endorsed by the medical community, and have been proven to treat hair growth.
Prescription tablets - Finasteride (Propecia)
The most effective treatment for male pattern baldness is Finasteride (often sold as Propecia). This prescription treatment is not available on the NHS, but you can order it through affordable services like our own LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor.
Finasteride has been proven to stop hair loss in 90% of men with male pattern baldness.
But unfortunately this can’t be taken by women.
Medicated foam/lotion - minoxidil (Regaine)
Minoxidil is a lotion or foam that is applied to the scalp every day as an effective hair loss treatment. It is not as effective as Propecia, but has still been proven to stop hair loss and promote hair regrowth in 60% of men with male pattern baldness. Minoxidil is available without a prescription, through high street pharmacies or supermarkets. You can order it online from our website. And we also have a hair loss treatment bundle which contains minoxidil solution, biotin vitamins and hair loss shampoo.