The Truth About Vitamin B For Hair Growth

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Shruti Chavan , MBBS, Dermatologist, Dermatologist
Written by Arshiya Syeda

Keeping your hair soft and silky requires external and internal nourishment and care. Vitamin B for hair growth plays a vital role in that. It helps to maintain hair health and improves its texture. Low maintenance and a hectic lifestyle negatively affect hair health. Here is where B vitamins come into the light. But one of the most common queries relates to the efficacy of these vitamins and how they work. This article will help you learn about these aspects and how vitamin B can benefit your hair. Continue reading further.

The Connection Between Vitamin B And Hair Loss

Vitamin B can aid in improving hair health if the cause for hair loss is a nutritional deficiency (1). Most research does not imply that the intake of vitamin B is directly related to hair growth. But in people with a pronounced deficiency of vitamin B, supplementation has shown an obvious improvement in hair quality (2). However, it is important to note that the study that proved so was conducted on children.

B-vitamins help DNA and RNA (the codes that make our cells) provide energy to cells, absorb proteins, and repair cells (3). So, while they may not directly help you grow your tresses, they are definitely working behind the scenes to make sure your hair remains healthy through other functions in the body.

But, it is not that simple. Each B-vitamin plays a different role in aiding the body. Learn more about the types of vitamin B needed for hair growth in the next section.

B-Vitamins For Hair Loss

You must have heard of vitamins B12, folate (B9), and biotin (B7), as these are commonly mentioned by dermatologists and supplement brands. But there are 8 kinds of B-vitamins, and each one affects your hair differently. Here is a little more information about these essential vitamins.

1. Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Thiamine is crucial for the growth and function of various cells. One study found it to be helpful in improving metabolism and reducing hyperglycemia (high sugar levels) (4). This can be beneficial for your hair as high sugar levels can lead to hormonal imbalance (5). This, consequently, can lead to hair fall. Since the liver stores thiamine in small amounts, it must be taken daily via a balanced diet (6).

2. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Riboflavin is an essential B-vitamin for hair growth that builds cells, produces energy, and breaks down fats, steroids, and medicine. Studies done on animals have found that a deficiency in vitamin B2 can result in alopecia (7).

3. Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Niacin works to change nutrients into energy, produce fat, repair DNA, and provide antioxidant effects (8). It can also boost hair growth when applied topically (9). Internally, niacin has more of a cardiovascular effect, without much correlation to hair growth (10).

4. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

Pantothenic acid is used in hair treatments to promote hair growth (11). Within the body, this vitamin works to break down fat and regulate cholesterol. It is also claimed to promote antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits for maintaining healthy hair.

5. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Pyridoxine is known to support the immune system and break down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. But, there is limited evidence to link this B-vitamin to hair growth. Though studies are underway to investigate its role in disease prevention, there is still much to be discovered about this vitamin (12).

6. Vitamin B7 (Biotin)

Biotin is a well-known vitamin that helps break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fatty acids. Although a biotin deficiency can cause hair loss, there is not enough evidence to prove that it helps with hair growth (13).  Hence, it is best to use biotin supplements only if you have a deficiency.

7. Vitamin B9 (Folate/Folic Acid)

Folate helps form DNA and RNA, the building blocks of life and the carriers of genes. It is necessary for all ages or periods of growth. But, no link has been found between folate and hair growth. Thus, supplementation makes sense only if you have a deficiency (14).

8. Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Vitamin B12 is another crucial vitamin for DNA and improving brain function. A B12 deficiency is shown to alter hair health (15). Therefore, you must ensure that your diet hits the required amount of vitamin B12. However, there is no evidence that it improves hair growth.

If you experience unexplained alopecia, it is possible that your body is lacking in B-complex vitamins. Let us check out some common signs of a vitamin B deficiency below.

How To Recognize A Vitamin B Deficiency

Pregnant women and older people are more likely to suffer from a deficiency of B-vitamins. Underlying diseases like gastritis, alcoholism, and immune system disorders may also cause a vitamin B deficiency alongside other nutritional deficiencies.

Here are some symptoms to look for when trying to spot a vitamin B deficiency.

  • B1 (Thiamine): Weight loss, confusion, memory loss, and muscle weakness.
  • B2 (Riboflavin): Cracked lips, sore throat, swelling of the mouth and throat, swollen tongue, hair loss, and skin rashes.
  • B3 (Niacin): Depression, headache, fatigue, memory loss, and hallucinations.
  • B5 (Pantothenic Acid): Headache, fatigue, irritability, restlessness, disturbed sleep, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, numbness or burning sensation in hands or feet, and muscle cramps.
  • B6 (Pyridoxine): Skin conditions, depression, confusion, and lowered immunity.
  • B7 (Biotin): Skin conditions, depression, confusion, and lowered immunity.
  • B9 (Folate/Folic Acid): Weakness, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, hair loss, pale skin, and mouth sores.
  • B12 (Cobalamin): Nerve damage with numbness, tingling in the hands and legs, memory loss, confusion, dementia, and depression.

If you have noticed these signs lately, you may be suffering from a deficiency of B-vitamins. But, these symptoms alone are not indicative of a vitamin B deficiency. The only way to be sure is to contact a doctor and get tested for the same.

Next up, we explain whether a vitamin B12 deficiency can cause hair loss.

Does A Vitamin B12 Deficiency Cause Hair Loss?

Yes, vitamin B12 can indirectly cause hair loss and alter hair health (1). Low vitamin B12 hampers other critical functions in the body, resulting in excessive hair fall. Vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal products, leaving vegetarians and vegans at risk of deficiency.

Vitamin B12 supplements can increase hair follicles with better growth (16). But there is not enough scientific evidence supporting this claim. If you suspect that you have a deficiency of B-vitamins, read on to find out how to take vitamin B for hair loss.

How To Treat A Vitamin B Deficiency

It is necessary to talk to your doctor before you begin any B-vitamin supplementation. Once your doctor has confirmed a deficiency of vitamin B, they may suggest the following treatment methods:

1. Change In Diet

If the deficiency is minor, you may have to change your diet. Depending on the type of vitamin B your body lacks, specific foods might be added. The most common foods rich in B-vitamins are meat, dairy products, and spinach.

2. Oral Supplements

If dietary sources are not enough to eliminate the deficiency, you may need to take vitamin B-complex tablets for hair growth. These range from regular multivitamins to type-specific ones. Make sure to follow the course and dosage properly. If your symptoms still persist, do not self-medicate; visit your doctor for proper help.

Addressing your vitamin B deficiency can improve your overall health and may even make your hair grow faster. However, hair loss may be caused by a combination of reasons, and another underlying condition may cause poor hair health to persist.

While supplementation of vitamin B for hair growth may help, is there any harm in taking too many of them? Let us find out.

What Are The Side Effects Of Excess Vitamin B For Hair?

Since vitamin B is water-soluble, you are unlikely to suffer from the effects of excess B-vitamins. Excess vitamin B is excreted by the body through urine. When taking vitamin B supplements, if you notice odd reactions, like blurred vision, diarrhea, nausea, or skin rashes, contact your doctor immediately.

Since there is not enough evidence that vitamin B promotes hair growth, it is best to consume supplements only if you suffer from a deficiency. Still, if you want to prevent a deficiency, you can eat certain vitamin B foods for hair growth. Take a look at which foods are rich in B-vitamins below.

Preventing A Vitamin B Deficiency

Maintaining healthy levels of vitamin B for your hair and the rest of your body is necessary. If you want to increase your intake of vitamin B for hair loss prevention, it is best to follow a balanced diet. Make sure that it includes foods like (17):

  • Banana
  • Yogurt
  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Spinach
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Avocado
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Potatoes
  • Broccoli

Closing Thoughts

Vitamin B can be good for hair growth €“ provided you have a deficiency. Otherwise, there is not much scientific evidence that vitamin B can stimulate hair growth. If you want stronger, healthier locks, it is necessary to find out the exact reason behind your hair loss and treat it.

Talk to your doctor to find a solution that treats the cause and not just provides instant relief. Until then, be cautious of the supplements you come across and take the time to do your research before taking them!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does vitamin B12 make your hair thicker?

There is no evidence that suggests that vitamin B12 can thicken hair strands.

Does vitamin B12 stop gray hair?

A deficiency of vitamin B12 may cause premature gray hair, and taking B12 supplements may prevent further graying (18).

How much B-complex should you take in a day?

It is best to consult your doctor for dosage, as you might require more of a certain B-vitamin.

References:

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6380979/
  2. Dermatological findings of vitamin B12 deficiency and resolving time of these symptoms https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/15569527.2013.861477
  3. The Nutrition Source: B Vitamins
    https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamins/vitamin-b/
  4. Metabolic Benefits of Six-month Thiamine Supplementation in Patients with and without Diabetes Mellitus Type 2
    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.4137/CMED.S13573
  5. High-Fat, High-Sugar Diet Disrupts the Preovulatory Hormone Surge and Induces Cystic Ovaries in Cycling Female Rats
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5740526/
  6. The Nutrition Source: Thiamin €“ Vitamin B1
    https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-b1/
  7. Riboflavin Deficiency
    https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4613-4419-3_7
  8. Niacin €“ Vitamin B3
    https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/niacin-vitamin-b3/
  9. A pilot study evaluating the efficacy of topically applied niacin derivatives for treatment of female pattern alopecia
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17168873/
  10. Does nicotinic acid (niacin) lower blood pressure?
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2705821/
  11. Pantothenic acid promotes dermal papilla cell proliferation in hair follicles of American minks via inhibitor of DNA Binding 3/Notch signaling pathway
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S002432052030415X
  12. Vitamin B6
    https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-b6/
  13. Biotin €“ Vitamin B7
    https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/biotin-vitamin-b7/
  14. Folate (Folic Acid) €“ Vitamin B9
    https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/folic-acid/
  15. A Review of Vitamin B12 in Dermatology
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40257-014-0107-3
  16. Vitamin B12 Activates the Wnt-Pathway in Human Hair Follicle Cells by Induction of β-Catenin and Inhibition of Glycogensynthase Kinase-3 Transcription
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228496387_Vitamin_B12_Activates_the_Wnt-Pathway_in_Human_Hair_Follicle_Cells_by_Induction_of_b-Catenin_and_Inhibition_of_Glycogensynthase_Kinase-3_Transcription
  17. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy€”A Review
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772032/
  18. Premature Graying of Hair: Review with Updates
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6290285/
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Dr. Shruti Chavan

( MBBS, Dermatologist)
Dr. Shruti Chavan is a consulting dermatologist at Dr.Sheth's Skin and Hair Clinic since 6 years. She is a co-committee... more