Let’s be honest, we’ve all looked at those dreamy hair commercials on TV (how do they get the hair to be so shiny?) and wished we had thick and lustrous locks. The reality, on the other hand, looks different; unless you are blessed with good genes or plain luck. Today’s polluted environment and stressful lifestyle have likely done a number on your hair.
The market promises plenty of solutions—from strengthening hair oils to biotin gummies. In the past few years especially, hair supplements and vitamins have become a popular solution to thinning hair and hair fall—but do they work?
To know more about their efficacy, it’s important to know what they contain and the way they work.
How do hair supplements work?
Most hair supplements are a cocktail of vitamins and minerals that are known to promote healthy hair. If you go through the ingredient list, you’ll find usual suspects like biotin, which strengthens hair; collagen which promotes hair thickness; and a mix of vitamins like A, E, and D and minerals like zinc, iron, and selenium. Ritika Jayaswal, the founder of Nourish Mantra, points out that some supplements might also contain additional ingredients like botanical extracts and antioxidants like horsetail and green tea extracts to combat hair loss.
These vitamins and minerals can either be derived from natural or synthetic sources, says Saurav Patnaik, COO and co-founder of Anveya Living Private Ltd, which is behind Thrive Co, a brand geared towards research-backed skin and hair products.
Are hair supplements and vitamins actually effective?
Whether hair supplements or vitamins will work for you will depend on whether your hair loss is due to a vitamin deficiency—if you eat a healthy diet, chances are your body already has all the nutrition it needs to maintain healthy hair. Even if you think that a nutritional deficiency is behind your hair fall, it’s always best to contact a trichologist first. It’s also important to note that there has been no specific study to prove that they work.
If you want to take hair supplements regardless, then know that they won’t be the sole reason for improvement in your hair health—as the name suggests, they can only supplement other practices like your lifestyle and sleeping habits. Jayaswal elaborates, “When used consistently and in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle and proper hair care routine, hair supplements can help nourish hair follicles, support healthy hair growth, and contribute to the overall strength and vitality of your hair.” Patnaik agrees, “Vitamins and supplements are definitely not a miracle cure by any means, but the right supplements can help your hair look and feel healthy.
How can I know if my hair fall is due to vitamin deficiency?
While the only way to find out if your hair fall is due to a vitamin deficiency is to get in touch with a doctor and have your nutrition levels tested.
Jayaswal explains, “Keep in mind that different deficiencies can manifest in different ways. For example, inadequate biotin (vitamin B7) intake can lead to brittle hair, while low vitamin D levels may contribute to hair thinning. However, it's important to consider other factors like genetics, hormonal imbalances, stress, and hair care practices. A thorough evaluation by a trichologist is essential.”
What are some of the other ways to grow hair?
Your best solution for happy and healthy hair is a balanced, nutritious diet, a consistent hair routine, and stress management.
A healthy diet
Jayaswal suggests including nutrient-rich foods like eggs and fish, which are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids that help in hair growth. Staying hydrated is also important as dehydration can lead to dull and dry tresses.
Sleeping for seven to eight hours will aid in your body’s overall well-being, including your hair health. "Try sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase to reduce friction and minimise hair breakage," adds Jayaswal.
While all these are well and good, extra support from hair serums won’t hurt. Most hair oils and serums are clinically-researched, unlike hair vitamins, which aren’t backed by studies.
Patnaik sums up, “Maintaining a simple healthy lifestyle, eating nutritious meals and hair supplements, using hair serums, and having a positive outlook towards life is the perfect recipe for healthy hair.”