Health experts found that almost one in three people in the US are at risk of anemia or one vitamin deficiency. About 6% are also at risk of having at least two vitamin shortages. The most common symptom is some form of anemia, as this occurs from vitamin deficiencies.
Of these nutritional inadequacies, vitamin B deficiency is one of the most common. For instance, vitamin B12 affects an estimated 1.5% to 15% of the general US population.
The thing is, vitamin B12 and other B vitamins are crucial for hair health. Therefore, taking vitamin B for hair may help you grow healthy strands and keep them intact.
What exactly makes B vitamins some of the important hair vitamins, though? What roles do they play in hair and overall health that should prompt you to take enough of them?
We’ll get to the bottom of these questions below, so be sure to keep reading!
What Is Vitamin B?
There’s more than one type of vitamin B: eight, to be specific. It’s a group of vitamins referred to as the “vitamin B complex.” Each of these eight B vitamins has specific functions, but all are crucial for optimal health.
Together, the vitamin B complex affects cell growth, cellular metabolism, and brain functions. They also help the body recognize and respond to yeast and bacterial infections. Moreover, they support red blood cell (RBC) growth and proper hormone processes.
All the functions above, in turn, play a role in the overall health of your crown. As such, a deficiency in vitamin B may lead to weak or brittle strands, hair loss, or impaired hair growth.
Outside of hair health, vitamins B6, B9, and B12 also promote optimal vision health. Vitamin B1 helps support healthy nerves, while vitamin B3 is key to strong muscles. All B vitamins affect the brain, and deficiencies may lead to anxiety or depression.
The Top Reasons to Take Vitamin B for Hair
The body doesn’t produce and synthesize its own supply of B vitamins. That’s why it’s necessary to consume external sources that contain these nutrients. That alone should be enough reason for you to take B vitamins, either from food or supplements.
As for why you should take B vitamins for hair, let’s look at some of the top reasons.
Red Blood Cell Production
Vitamin B9 (folate or folic acid) and B12 help the body create new red blood cells. RBCs contain hemoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen throughout the body. RBCs also remove carbon dioxide from all the parts of your body for exhalation.
If you don’t take enough vitamin B9 and B12, you’re at risk of developing anemia. This also means that not enough oxygen can go to your scalp, so it becomes deprived of nutrients. In theory, this can result in impaired hair development and growth.
At the very least, a lack of oxygen can cause your strands to turn gray and become brittle.
Deficiencies May Contribute to Hair Loss
Deficiencies in vitamins B2 (riboflavin), B7 (biotin), B9, and B12 may lead to hair loss.
For instance, your body may not be able to form glutathione, an antioxidant, if you lack vitamin B2. However, glutathione helps protect your body against cells known as free radicals. Free radicals can damage healthy cells and DNA, resulting in impaired protein function.
Now, keep in mind that hair relies on the protein keratin, which gives it strength and flexibility. If you have too many free radicals in your system, they can cause significant cell and DNA damage. This can then result in your hair losing keratin, leading to weakened strands or even hair loss.
Vitamin B7 deficiency can also cause hair loss as biotin is crucial to keratin structure. In one study, 38% of participants experiencing hair loss had biotin deficiency. Supplementing with multi B vitamins can help restore proper biotin levels.
Not taking enough vitamin B9 and B12, with their cell growth functions, may also lead to hair loss. This may occur due to the follicles not getting enough protein for hair cells to reproduce. This can then stop their growth, and from there, they may simply fall out.
Healthier Skin and Scalp
Vitamin B3 helps keep your skin moisturized by creating ceramide, a lipid barrier. This “layer” aids in locking in moisture, preventing dryness and itchiness. This is especially helpful if you have eczema or a predisposition to dry skin.
Keep in mind that dry skin can also affect your scalp, which in turn can irritate your hair follicles. Flaked-off skin can also clog up your scalp’s pores, preventing hair from growing right. Worse, this can result in scalp irritation, redness, or even inflammation.
Scientists also say that vitamin B3 (niacinamide) boosts keratin (and other protein) synthesis. With healthier keratin structures, your strands can become stronger and more flexible.
May Help Keep Scalp and Skin Conditions at Bay
Vitamin B3 may also help reduce skin blotchiness, redness, papules, and pustules. All these conditions can affect your scalp, causing poor hair health. Itchy papules and pustules can result in damaged hair from excessive scratching.
On the other hand, vitamin B7 deficiency can contribute to skin conditions such as eczema. Eczema can affect the scalp, leading to the skin shedding white skin flakes (dandruff). As scalp eczema is also itchy, it may result in hair loss due to scratching.
If you have any of these skin issues, speak to your doctor about possible vitamin B deficiencies. Your doctor may recommend that you take high-quality multivitamin supplements.
May Boost Your Resistance Against Infections
A study found that vitamin B12 deficiency can raise risks of infections. These include Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections caused by Pseudomonas bacteria. These affect many parts of the body, including the ears, eyes, soft tissues, and skin.
The skin infections these bacteria cause can lead to rashes and pus-filled pimples. Since the scalp is also skin, you may also develop these “bumps” on your scalp. Not only are they itchy, but they can also cause pus to ooze out of the pustules.
Some people are more prone to Pseudomonas infections, including those with impaired immunity. So, if you have a weak immune system, be sure to ask your doctor about vitamin B supplements.
Should Everyone Take Vitamin B Supplements?
Not really, but those who have vitamin B deficiencies should. This is especially true for pregnant women, as they need more of the B vitamins. The same goes for those with celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or alcohol dependence.
Vegans are also at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, as they don’t eat meat, dairy, or eggs. These are some of the best sources of vitamin B12. If you live a plant-based lifestyle, be sure to talk to your doctor about vitamin B supplements.
If you’re not sure you have a vitamin B deficiency, there are lab tests you can undergo. These include regular urine or blood screening, as well as Methylmalonic acid test. The latter is a special blood test that can assess if you have a vitamin B12 deficiency.
If you have hair issues like hair loss, thinning, or brittleness, visit your doctor too. They may be due to vitamin B deficiency and other nutritional inadequacies. Your doctor can tell you which nutrients you lack and which supplements you need.
Choosing and Taking Your Hair Vitamins
As you choose your vitamin B supplements for hair, be sure to look for reviews with before and after photos. This way, you can assess whether there’s any noticeable difference in their strands. You should also take your own before and after photos once you do start taking the supplements.
You should also pay attention to reviews that have any reported side effects. This is especially important, as some supplements may have adulterated formulations. This means that they have impurities in them, which can be a health hazard.
Do note that the FDA discovered over 700 adulterated supplement brands from 2007 to 2016. So, be diligent in doing your brand research to avoid those that can cause potential harm.
It’s also crucial to never take more than the recommended dose of vitamins. Overdosing on vitamin B complex can cause side effects like nausea and vomiting. Worse, it can result in even more skin conditions, including dryness and inflammation.
Consider Taking Vitamin B for Hair and Overall Good Health
As you can see, there are plenty of benefits of vitamin B for hair (and your overall health). However, not everyone needs to take extra supplements, so you should talk to your doctor first. This way, your physician can conduct tests to see if you need additional sources of the vitamin B complex.
If your doctor says you do, be sure to take high-quality, unadulterated supplements.
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