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Vitamin A for Hair Growth: 5 Intriguing Facts

By July 14th, 2021No Comments
vitamin A for hair

Photo by Leighann Blackwood on Unsplash

Vitamin A for Hair Growth: 5 Intriguing Facts

By Jacqueline Samaroo

 

Did you know?

The health of your hair is a pretty good indication of your general health.

True dat! Growing a headful of healthy, strong, and lustrous hair requires certain vitamins and minerals that are good for the rest of your body, too.

One very important hair growth vitamin is vitamin A (aka retinol). Read on to find out about vitamin A for hair: how it aids hair growth and its contribution to healthy hair. We’ll also cover some important information about taking vitamin A for hair loss.

TLDR? Here are those five facts in a nutshell:

1. Vitamin A promotes cell growth.

2. Vitamin A helps your scalp produce sebum.

3. Vitamin A slows down hair loss.

4. Vitamin A can be found in LOTS of foods!

5. Too much vitamin A can be bad for your hair.

Now, let’s unpack each one.

1. Vitamin A promotes cell growth.

Vitamin A is needed by every growing cell in your body. That includes the stem cells found in hair follicles. Stem cells are special because they can grow into many different types of cells. The stem cells in your hair follicles grow into hair cells. They also regrow hair as it falls out.

The cells in the hair follicles are the only growing part of your hair. That’s why nurturing them is so very vital for healthy hair growth. The hair shaft, the part of the hair you see growing out of your scalp, is not actually growing. It is made up of dead cells that have been hardened by keratin and other proteins.

See Natural Hair Care: Protein and Hair – 7 Questions Answered for a more in-depth look at hair structure and hair proteins.

Did you know?

Hair is one of the fastest-growing tissues in your body. The only part of you that grows faster is bone marrow!

2. Vitamin A helps your scalp produce sebum.

Sebum is an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands of the skin. It is made up of oil, waxes, fatty acids, and cholesterol. It plays a role in nourishing and moisturizing your hair and scalp. Sebum also helps to stop hair from becoming dry and brittle, and breaking easily.

Your face and scalp have more sebaceous glands than anywhere else on your body. Not surprisingly, there are no sebaceous glands on the parts of your body where hair doesn’t grow. This is why you won’t find them on the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, and (thankfully!) lips.

The sebaceous glands secrete sebum directly into the hair follicles. The sebum then moves up the follicles. It coats, lubricates, and strengthens the strands of hair as it goes. It also helps to lubricate your scalp, making it slightly greasy and keeping it supple.

Did you know?

Sebum is sometimes mistaken for sweat – it isn’t. Sweat is produced by sweat glands and is made up of water and salts. It helps to keep you cool and to get rid of unwanted substances.

3. Vitamin A slows down hair loss.

 via GIPHY

Vitamin A deficiency is one of the causes of hair loss and aging of hair. Vitamin A is an antioxidant. Antioxidants play a very integral role in helping our bodies fight the effects of free radicals.

Free radicals are substances that can do major damage to our bodies. For example, they have been shown to take part in cancer formation. They also speed up aging in many parts of the body including the skin, internal organs and, you guessed it, hair!

Slowing down this aging process is one of the most important functions of vitamin A for hair growth. Another is ensuring your hair is healthy and will not fall out prematurely. This is why many multivitamins and hair growth medications contain vitamin A for hair loss. It is often listed as retinol in their ingredients.

Did you know?

There are only three dietary antioxidants. They are vitamins A, C, and E.

4. Vitamin A can be found in LOTS of foods!

vitamin A for hair

Getting your vitamin A for hair growth isn’t all that hard to do. Vitamin A comes in two forms: Preformed vitamin A and Provitamin A. These can be found in many different foods.

Preformed vitamin A

Preformed vitamin A is ready-made vitamin A. It is found in animal sources only. Eggs, cheese, and oily fish are good direct sources of preformed vitamin A.

Some preformed vitamin A-rich foods are:

  • Liver – beef liver, lamb liver, turkey liver, and liver sausages
  • Cheese – goat cheese, cheddar cheese, Limburger cheese, camembert, Roquefort cheese, blue cheese, cream cheese, and feta cheese
  • Milk and yogurt
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Caviar
  • Goose liver pâté
  • Oily fish – Trout, salmon, King mackerel, Bluefin tuna, and herring
  • Cod liver oil

Did you know?

Beef liver is one of the best sources of vitamin A. One serving contains over 700% of the recommended daily intake!

Provitamin A

Provitamins are substances that your body can easily turn into actual vitamins. The most common provitamin of vitamin A is beta-carotene. Leafy greens, as well as yellow and orange veggies, are high in beta-carotene.

Some provitamin A rich foods are:

  • Sweet potatoes (These have the highest amounts of beta-carotene.)
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Turnip greens
  • Collards
  • Tomato juice
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Mango
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Cantaloupe
  • Dried apricots
  • Sweet red pepper
  • Swiss chard
  • Winter squash
  • Kale
  • Papaya

Did you know?

Cooked sweet potatoes have the highest amounts of beta-carotene A. You get over 200% of the recommended daily intake in one serving. Yay, time for sweet potato pie!

5. Too much vitamin A can be bad for your hair.

As we mentioned earlier, vitamin A has been shown to help slow hair loss. It’s why many persons consider taking vitamin A for hair loss. But, here’s the thing – studies also show that excess vitamin A can also lead to hair loss.

If you think you are getting sufficient vitamin A in your diet, then there really is no need for you to take a vitamin A supplement.

Supplements can be very helpful, however, if you are at risk of vitamin A deficiency. Be sure to get your doctor’s advice before you begin taking supplements of any kind.

Did you know?

Your liver stores excess vitamin A from the foods you eat. It then releases it as needed. This helps to make a vitamin A deficiency unlikely for most persons.

For more info on vitamins for hair growth, be sure to also check out our recent post, Natural Hair Growth – Should You Be Considering Vitamin Supplements?

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