Top 8 FAQs About the Benefits of Folic Acid for Hair Growth
By Jacqueline Samaroo
Healthy hair begins on the inside with the nutrients you feed your body. Those nutrients serve as the building blocks for healthy cell and tissue growth. They may also play a role in preventing and repairing damage to cells and tissues.
One often talked about nutrient for healthy hair growth is folic acid. It has been the subject of a plethora of scientific research and the benefits of folic acid for hair growth have been well documented.
In this article, we will give you straightforward and easy-to-understand answers to eight of the most frequently asked questions about how folic acid benefits your hair and scalp. We will also explain the folic acid vs folate issue and give you a heads up as to how much folic acid per day is recommended for you.
Here are the eight FAQs we’ll cover. Click each one to jump to its answer.
- What is folic acid?
- Is folic acid the same as folate?
- What are the health benefits of folic acid?
- What are the benefits of folic acid for hair growth?
- Can I take folic acid for hair loss and hair thinning?
- Which foods are natural sources of folic acid?
- Which foods are fortified with folic acid?
- How much folic acid per day should I take?
Eight Frequently Asked Questions about Folic Acid for Hair Growth
1. What is folic acid?
Folic acid is a synthetic form of vitamin B9, one of the eight vitamins that make up the vitamin B complex. It is often used as a dietary supplement to ensure sufficient intake of vitamin B9. Because folic acid remains stable in high temperatures, such as those reached during food processing, it is the form of vitamin B9 used in fortified foods.
For more on the B vitamins, read:
2. Is folic acid the same as folate?
The terms folate and folic acid are often used interchangeably but they do have subtle differences, depending on the branch of science you are using to define them.
When discussing nutrition and nutrients, folate is used to refer to the naturally occurring forms of vitamin B9 found in a variety of foods. Folic acid, on the other hand, is as we stated in FAQ #1, the synthetic (manmade) form of the vitamin.
It is important to note that when it comes to folic acid vs folate, naturally-occurring folate and its synthetic counterpart function in the same way inside our bodies.
3. What are the health benefits of folic acid?
Folic acid is needed for the healthy growth of every cell in your body. It contributes to normal cell division and cell growth, as well as to repairing cell damage. Importantly, it has been shown to aid these processes during early childhood and pregnancy. In fact, folic acid is routinely contained in supplements prescribed for pregnant women as it is shown to help prevent birth defects, including NTDs (neural tube defects).
Folic acid also contributes to:
- Improving fertility by aiding the production and development of sex cells.
- Reducing the risk of heart disease.
- Reducing the risk of stroke.
- Preventing and treating folate deficiency anemia.
- Slowing the decline of memory and thinking skills.
One study also showed a link between folate deficiency and premature hearing loss.
4. What are the benefits of folic acid for hair growth?
- Folic acid promotes healthy hair growth.
Your hair and skin are constantly growing because your hair follicles and scalp skin are made up of growing cells. These cells need folic acid for healthy growth which, in turn, will help to ensure you have strong, healthy, and healthy-looking hair.
- Folic acid may help to slow premature graying.
A 2017 study showed a connection between, premature graying and low levels of folic acid (as well as vitamin B12 and vitamin B7, a.k.a. biotin). This seems to support anecdotal reports on the use of folic acid to slow, prevent, or even reverse graying.
- Folic acid increases hair volume and boosts shine.
Having sufficient amounts of nutrients, including folic acid, in your body will help to ensure that your hair is healthy. And, healthy hair shows in its fullness, thickness, bounce, and shine.
5. Can I take folic acid for hair loss and hair thinning?
Anemia is a condition characterized by a low number of red blood cells or red blood cells that do not function as they should. Red blood cells bring the growing cells of the scalp and follicles the oxygen and nutrients they need. And, folic acid is one of the nutrients particularly noted for its role in the proper functioning of red blood cells.
Anemia, in general, has been highlighted as a cause of increased hair fall and, folate deficiency anemia, in particular, is linked to thinning hair. It leads to immature and abnormally large red blood cells that do not function correctly, preventing sufficient oxygen and nutrients from reaching the scalp and follicle cells.
Ensuring you get sufficient folic acid through foods or supplementation can guard against developing folate deficiency anemia and any hair thinning or hair loss it may induce. If you are already dealing with hair loss or hair thinning, talk with your doctor.
They may recommend folic acid for hair loss as well as for hair thinning but they will also be able to eliminate or pinpoint other causes for your hair issues.
See our recent post Stress and Hair Loss: Here’s The Connection and 5 Ways to Break It for a look at stress-induced hair loss.
And, for more general information on hair loss, read the American Academy of Dermatology’s Hair Loss: Who Gets and Causes.
6. Which foods are natural sources of folic acid?
Some foods naturally high in folate are leafy vegetables, asparagus, and beans, as well as okra and certain fruits, including orange juice and tomato juice. Other plant sources from which you can get very good quantities of folate are yeast and mushrooms. Liver and kidney are among the animal sources naturally high in folate.
Some other good folate sources are:
- Whole grains
Want to find out more about folate in the foods you eat? Well, the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health has a massively exhaustive list of the folate content of different foods. Yes, “massively exhaustive”! It’s 188 pages long and has almost any kind of food you can think of!
Related article: 7 Foods to Avoid If You’re Trying to Grow Longer Natural Hair
7. Which foods are fortified with folic acid?
Fortification of some enriched grain products with folic acid has been required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since 1998. Among the foods you will find fortified with folic acid are breakfast cereals, flour, bread, pasta, and rice.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a host of information on Folic Acid Fortification and Supplementation.
8. How much folic acid per day should I take?
400 mcg is the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for both men and women, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health. The amount increases to 500 mcg and 600 mcg for lactating and for pregnant women, respectively.
There are health risks associated with taking too much folic acid and so it is highly recommended that you discuss your particular health needs with your doctor before increasing your folic acid intake.
For more on using supplements for hair growth, check these recent CurlyNikki posts:
- Natural Hair Growth Supplements – 6 Helpful Points to Keep In Mind
- Natural Hair Growth – Should You Be Considering Vitamin Supplements?
What are your thoughts on using folic acid for hair growth? Share!