On their quest for long flowing locks many women turn to vitamin supplements to increase their hair’s growth rate. Keep in mind that these women I speak of aren’t experiencing hair loss, they don’t have any serious medical conditions that affect their hair; they just want it to grow faster.
Common hair growth vitamins include biotin (a B-vitamin), vitamins A, E, zinc, iron, and all-in-one supplements that are marketed as beneficial for hair, skin and nails. Some women even take it upon themselves to take pre-natal vitamins because they swear up and down it works for pregnant women’s hair. No doubt that the vitamins may be helping, but hormones deserve more credit. According to the American Pregnancy Association:
”During pregnancy there is an increase in the level of estrogen hormones. Estrogen causes hair to remain in the growing phase and stimulates the growth of your hair. While you are pregnant, you should expect a full luxurious head of hair.”
And on hair loss after pregnancy:
“The rise in hormones during pregnancy keeps you from losing your hair. After delivery, the hormones return to normal levels, which allows the hair to fall out and return to the normal cycle. The normal hair loss that was delayed during pregnancy may fall out all at once.”
What you need to know about vitamins is that if you are consuming them in amounts that exceed your needs, your body will use what it needs and discard the rest. In some cases you may break out severely or experience other side effects as a way of your body trying to purge leftovers. Exceptions to the rule are vitamins A, E, D and K. They are fat-soluble vitamins that are stored in the liver. These vitamins will accumulate when taken in excess and can be toxic with adverse side effects. Supplements are meant to complete what is lacking so don’t overdo it.
Truth be told, many of us are lacking in one vitamin or another, but it becomes problematic when people self-diagnose. You can always have your primary care physician or a nutritionist run tests to identify what you need. Loading up on every vitamin you read about that helps with hair growth is unnecessary. Why take additional biotin if you’re already getting what you need from your diet? For individuals who are proactive and more conscious of their eating habits, the Food and Drug Administration has a recommended daily intake for each vitamin to guide you. Food labels will also tell you what percentage you are getting from their product’s ingredients.
Another thing to take into consideration is how these different supplements interact with each other. In the New York Times article titled Vitamins: More May Be Too Many,Dr. Benjamin Caballero, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Johns Hopkins, discussed how one can cancel out the effects of another:
“Minerals antagonize each other for absorption, zinc competes with iron which competes with calcium.”
The bottom line is to figure out what you need by seeking the advice of a medical professional. More than likely, supplementing what you are lacking will help you reach your maximum growth rate. A healthier option is to increase the intake of a particular food that is rich in the vitamin you need because many of these pills come with additives or preservatives that can do more harm than good.
My personal take:
I like to think that a well-balanced diet will yield your normal (maximum) growth rate, while an unbalanced one will slow it down. When people say their hair is growing “faster than normal” while on supplements, it’s probably because that wasn’t their normal growth rate to begin with. I believe the supplements are helping them towards a balanced and normal state. As for mega/over-the-top doses, it’s common knowledge that those go to waste. If I need 5mcg of a certain vitamin, taking a dose with 50 times the amount will do nothing but wreak havoc on my body!
Do you take supplements? What do you think? Share your thoughts!
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