A full head of hair is a sign of youth and health. If you’re over 35, you won’t be surprised to hear that both men and women face this same devastating experience of thinning hair as we age. No wonder the industry constantly releases new products with the promise of thicker, stronger, healthier hair. From shampoo, to gummy hair vitamins, to scalp massagers, they’ve come up with almost everything to bring your locks back to their youthful vigor.

But which methods or vitamins actually work to restore hair thickness and health?

You’ll be happy to hear that there are nutritional strategies that work to stabilize and protect you from hair loss, hair thinning, and texture changes despite all the root causes. Oxidative stress, nutritional deficiencies, genetic predisposition, and hormonal imbalance affect us all, and luckily, we can put up a defense with vitamins and nutrients.

But before you spend money on hair growth vitamins, let’s take a moment to understand what it takes nutritionally to give your hair a fighting chance against the aging process and protect your hair from thinning.

How Can Vitamins Promote Hair Growth?

Hair growth is a complex mechanism in the body and can be affected by multiple aspects of its environment. Simply put, the root at your hair follicle is made up of cells of proteins and is complimented by an oil gland that serves to lubricate the hair as it pushes up through the surface of the skin. This early stage is the very important time where vitamins and nutrients come into play. Vitamins will not affect the hair that’s already grown out of the surface of the skin because the hair is dead just prior to exiting the skin.

The rapidly dividing cells at the base of the follicle require proper nutrition in order to form a healthy strand of hair. Nutrient deficiencies and hormone disruption stress the process of hair generation the most and these aspects can be addressed largely through diet.

7 Vitamins to Boost Your Hair Growth

Here are our top 7 vitamins and nutrients to help balance your health and naturally grow thicker, stronger hair:

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids From Fish Oil

Omega-3 essential fatty acids provide the strengthening nutrients needed for the follicle to form strong healthy hair. Also known for its powerful anti inflammatory properties and its ability to support blood circulation, regular intake of these essential fatty acids will ensure the best possible chance to of keeping full, healthy hair.

In short, it works to counteract inflammation that leads to hair loss, as well as nourishes the skin, and supports mechanisms that result in thicker hair.

Many sources of omega-3, from flaxseed to vegetables to eggs, have been studied for their value. Turns out that the best source of omega-3 comes from fish oil of small species fish. Fish oil is rich in high quality omega-3 which is highly available to your body.

A diet full of wild salmon, wild mackerel and sardines is the way to go for healthy aging and great hair! However, it’s hard to get all the omega-3 we need from our diet, so turning to a pure fish oil supplement is a good idea. Norway Pure is an amazingly powerful fish oil concentrate with no fishy after-taste.

Individuals on an omega-3 supplement should expect to see some improvement in hair growth, hair density after 6 months of continued use as your new hair grows out.

Note: Speak to your doctor about taking fish oil if you’re on blood thinning medication or aspirin, as fish oil can further thin your blood and increase chances of bleeding.

2. Zinc

Zinc deficiency is a major contributor to hair loss. A simple zinc supplement can help protect the hair follicle and fight regression and is a key vitamin to include in your hair growth strategy.

Zinc is best eaten from natural sources rather than a supplement. The best sources are found in organic spinach, kidney beans, and oysters. If you feel you’re not going to get enough zinc from your diet, find a whole food source of zinc and take the recommended amount daily.

3. Biotin (B7)

Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is a vitamin found rich in organic avocados, organic eggs, organic cauliflower, organic berries, and wild fish. It helps metabolize fatty acids and carbohydrates into energy and aids in cell growth as well. It is well known to improve hair and nail strength, and increase hair growth, however the jury is out as to how much biotin you should actually take.

Boosting your diet with biotin-rich foods is a great idea for healthier hair, especially if you’re pregnant or nursing (a time when women are prone to biotin deficiency and, thus, hair loss).

A quality biotin supplement from a whole-food source is also helpful for producing better hair, but we don’t recommend taken biotin alone. A large dose of biotin can create a B5 deficiency which often results in acne breakouts, so, be sure to take it in combination with pantothenic acid (B5) supplement as well.

4. Pantothenic Acid (B5)

Pantothenic acid (B5) is a very important nutrient in hair growth. Along with biotin, pantothenic acid is known to increase the diameter of the hair and thicken hair fibers when taken orally. This means stronger hair, less breakage, and improved hair texture.

Again, wild salmon, organic avocado, and organic sunflower seeds are our B5 foods of choice.

5. Super Antioxidants and Vitamin C

Oxidative stress is the enemy of your hair and is a key offender causing the signs of aging, specifically graying and hair loss.

The highest values of super antioxidants are goji berries, red peppers, broccoli, cranberries, pecans, and dark chocolate, and they fight oxidative stress like nothing else! We prefer food sources of these antioxidants as they are companion to many other wonderful bioflavonoids and nutrients that the body uses to the full.

Also well known, vitamin C is the secret to healthy aging, not to mention, it boosts your natural collagen synthesis as well. These super powers will work to protect your DNA and resist against cellular aging in the body overall, and it will show in more than just your hair. So load up with these natural sources of super antioxidants daily!

6. Vitamin D

Vitamin D, which is wrongly named as a vitamin, is actually a hormone and works to protect male and female hormones from imbalance, among other things. Hair follicles are highly hormone sensitive, and stabilizing your hormones will ensure the best possible chance for your locks.

Read: Hormone Balance Tips

The best way to get vitamin D is though sun exposure (10-15 min/day for pale skin, 20-30 min/day for darker skin). This may come as a challenge to some and you could be vitamin D deficient and not even know it, so ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels to know if you’re in safe range. If the sun isn’t doing it for you, supplement with a quality vitamin D supplement or fill your diet with plenty of vitamin D rich foods like eggs, and fish. Mushrooms are also high in vitamin D, however, due to their inflammatory properties, we recommend staying away from the fungi.

7. Collagen Protein

Not a vitamin, but a key nutrient necessary for hair production. Collagen comprises a major part of hair and skin formation, and our ability to naturally produce it declines as we age. Natural diet sources of collagen can be found in bone broths, chicken cartilage, and egg yolks as well, but we wouldn’t suggest you load up on egg yolks and cartilage.

Supplementing with a hydrolyzed collagen peptide supplement is an excellent way to put the raw materials in your body and round out the perfect hair growth diet. Amino Collagen C contains the most bio-available type of collagen from fish, as well as the added benefits of vitamin C and hyaluronic acid to maximize its effectiveness.

Take 10 grams per day and expect to see results in 3-6 months of continued use as your new hair grows out.

Be Patient and Don’t Overdo It

Hair takes time to grow and show the improvements you’re making with your diet. Be patient. Be consistent. When it comes to hair loss and changes to hair quality, it can usually be traced back to a disruption in the body. That said, we don’t recommend taking megadoses of any one thing. Healthy amounts of key vitamins and nutrients will help sustain your body’s overall health and prime your hair for top notch growth.