How Vitamin A is Good for Hair Growth

Human hair is complicated. Its growth and health is fueled by a multitude of vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, and more. Most people are aware of this on some level, but may not know the particulars of which vitamins specifically benefit hair, and how they do so. The full list of hair growth vitamins can be found here.

Vitamin A can be a great aid to hair growth, but it’s important to understand its place in our bodies’ systems. Although there are plenty of vitamin A pills on grocery store shelves, they can do more harm than good if taken carelessly.

So, here is an overview of what vitamin A does, how to safely increase your vitamin A levels, and what can happen if your levels drop too low, or rise too high.

How Vitamin A is Good for Hair Growth

How and Why Vitamin A Benefits Hair

Vitamin A is essential to many, many aspects of the body’s operation. It promotes healthy cell growth, supports our immune systems, our bones, and even maintains our vision.

Chemically, vitamin A is a derivative of carotenoids, found in many plants. Human and animal bodies convert the carotenoids into retinoids, the vitamin’s usable form. The retinoids are used to keep hair growing throughout our lives.

The vitamin is also important to the smooth operation of our sebaceous glands, which produce sebum. That’s the oil that our pores emit to protect our hair and skin from drying out in the elements. If you’ve ever noticed your hair is extremely dry, almost cracking, that’s due to a lack of sebum, which could be a sign of vitamin A deficiency.

Other symptoms caused by vitamin A deficiency are more drastic. Follicular hyperkeratosis, the formation of rough bumps in the hair follicles, is common. Skin issues like keratosis pilaris often follow, as well as breakdown of the immune system, and even blindness.

In other words, it’s a good idea to get enough Vitamin A, for more reasons than keeping your hair long and shiny.

How Vitamin A is Good for Hair Growth

Vitamin A Foods to Eat for Hair Growth

Luckily, food sources of vitamin A are plentiful and easy to fit into your diet. Green and orange fruits and vegetables are a great way to get enough, along with some surprising alternatives.

* Sweet potatoes – Not really a potato at all, sweet potatoes carry a slew of health benefits and can be roasted, boiled, grilled, or even fried.
* Carrots – Raw carrots travel well and make a good snack, or toss them into your favorite stir fry or curry.
* Pumpkin – Roast it like squash, or puree it for pie. However you prepare it, pumpkin is loaded with vitamin A.
* Apricot – Dried apricot is a staple of trail mixes, or works well in recipes ranging from pork tenderloin to scones.
* Broccoli – Broccoli is a wonderfully versatile ingredient, and works in just about any cuisine. The leaves are where the vitamin A is found, though the florets carry some as well.
* Dark, leafy greens – Kale, spinach, and collard greens are excellent ways to add some vitamin A, whether in a salad or a cooked dish. For a change, try dandelion greens.
* Bell peppers – Red bell peppers have by far the most vitamin A of the capsicum genus, but green will also do in a pinch.
* Spirulina – A type of blue-green algae, spirulina is most often found on store shelves in powder form. It’s packed with vitamins, and goes great in smoothies.

Dairy can also be a great source of vitamin A. Milk, butter, and yellow cheeses like cheddar cheese will keep your levels up, as will a couple of eggs in the morning.

Finally, liver is packed with the stuff, if you have the appetite for it. Turkey liver is one of the best sources of vitamin A in the world, containing 895% of the recommended daily allowance in just 100 grams.

How Vitamin A is Good for Hair Growth

Selecting Vitamin A Supplements for Hair

If obtaining enough vitamin A through food sources isn’t possible, then supplements are available. They exist most commonly in pill form, though powders and liquids are available from higher-end grocery and health food stores.

Vitamin A is also a component of most reputable daily multivitamins, as well as specialty formulas meant to aid hair growth, skin and nails health, and other such issues.

The NHS recommends 0.7mg of vitamin A per day for men, or 0.6mg per day for women. They further advise that most people should be able to obtain all the vitamin A they need from food.

Therefore, if you do choose to supplement, it may be best to stick to powders and liquids that are composed of nutraceutical, “whole food” sources.

Can Too Much Vitamin A Cause Hair Loss?

Unfortunately, it is possible to overdose on vitamin A. Hypervitaminosis A, as it is called, can occur not just in supplement-takers, but also in people who eat too much vitamin A-rich food over a period of years. In years past, people who too often enjoyed pâté or foie gras would suffer from this disorder.

What’s worse for those concerned with hair growth, one of the most common symptoms of hypervitaminosis A is baldness. Headaches, dizziness, irritability, and a score of other issues can occur. In extreme cases, it can lead to death.

The good news is that hypervitaminosis A is only a danger when relying heavily on animal sources. Retinoids, the form of vitamin A found in animals, are fat-soluble. This means excess retinoids are stored in your fat tissues, and can build up over time. When your tissues are saturated with the compound, symptoms can occur.

Carotenoids, the form of vitamin A found in plant sources, are water soluble. Our bodies convert as much as needed into retinoids, and the rest is flushed out when we urinate. It is entirely possible and even advisable to obtain all your vitamin A from plant sources, whether in foods or supplements.

How Vitamin A is Good for Hair Growth

Vital for Hair and Body

Vitamin A is classified as an “essential micronutrient”, meaning that our bodies do not produce it naturally, but require it for proper functioning. Therefore, it must be obtained from food or supplements.

The foods that contain vitamin A are, for the most part, good health choices. We could all use a few more carrots and leafy greens in our lives, and that will boost our vitamin A along with many other nutrients.

Supplements can be effective as well, particularly ones that are food- rather than chemically-derived. As always, you should consult with a medical professional before beginning any kind of supplementation or major dietary change.

Comments

  1. Jo-Ann Brightman says:

    I did not know that too much Vitamin A could cause a person to loose hair. Thank you for all this information. I shall be more careful about how much Vitamin A I consume.

  2. I am glad that I like so many of these foods. We eat plenty of broccoli, sweet potatoes and carrots. I didn’t know that dried apricot is also a good source of Vitamin A.

  3. I like sweet potatoes and eat them often since I can’t eat regular potatoes. Sad that too much of this is counter productive.

  4. I had no idea that all of these fruits and veggies were good for hair growth. I am going to stock up on some of these thank you for sharing this great information.