What is a vitamin?
A vitamin is an organic molecule that is an essential micronutrient which an organism needs in small quantities for the proper functioning of its metabolism. Essential nutrients cannot be synthesized in the organism, either at all or not in sufficient quantities, and therefore must be obtained through the diet.
What do vitamins do?
Vitamins and minerals are considered essential nutrients—because acting in concert, they perform hundreds of roles in the body. They help shore up bones, heal wounds, and bolster your immune system. They also convert food into energy, and repair cellular damage.
Best vitamins for hair growth.Vitamin A
All cells need vitamin A for growth. This includes hair, the fastest growing tissue in the human body. Vitamin A also helps skin glands make an oily substance called sebum. Sebum moisturizes the scalp and helps keep hair healthy. Diets deficient in vitamin A may lead to several problems, including hair loss. While it’s important to get enough vitamin A, too much may be dangerous. Studies show that an overdose of vitamin A can also contribute to hair loss. Sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, spinach and kale are all high in beta-carotene, which is turned into vitamin A. Vitamin A can also be found in animal products such as milk, eggs and yogurt. Cod liver oil is a particularly good source.Vitamin B
One of the best-known vitamins for hair growth is a B-vitamin called biotin. Studies link biotin deficiency with hair loss in humans. Although biotin is used as an alternative hair-loss treatment, those who are deficient have the best results. However, deficiency is very rare because it occurs naturally in a wide range of foods. There’s also a lack of data about whether biotin is effective for hair growth in healthy individuals. Other B-vitamins help create red blood cells, which carry oxygen and nutrients to the scalp and hair follicles. These processes are important for hair growth. You can get B-vitamins from many foods, including whole grains, almonds, meat, fish, seafood and dark, leafy greens. Additionally, animal foods are the only good sources of vitamin B12. So, if you’re following a vegetarian or vegan diet, consider taking a supplementVitamin C
Free radical damage can block growth and cause your hair to age. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect against the oxidative stress caused by free radicals. In addition, your body needs vitamin C to create a protein known as collagen an important part of hair structure. Vitamin C also helps your body absorb iron, a mineral necessary for hair growth. Strawberries, peppers, guavas and citrus fruits are all good sources of vitamin C.Vitamin D
Low levels of vitamin D are linked to alopecia, a technical term for hair loss. Research also shows that vitamin D may help create new follicles — the tiny pores in the scalp where new hair can grow. Vitamin D is thought to play a role in hair production, but most research focuses on vitamin D receptors. The actual role of vitamin D in hair growth is unknown. That said, most people don’t get enough vitamin D and it may still be a good idea to increase your intake. Your body produces vitamin D through direct contact with the sun’s rays. Good dietary sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, cod liver oil, some mushrooms and fortified foods.Vitamin E
Similar to vitamin C, vitamin E is an antioxidant that can prevent oxidative stress. In one study, people with hair loss experienced a 34.5% increase in hair growth after supplementing with vitamin E for 8 months. The placebo group had only a 0.1% increase. Sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach and avocados are all good sources of vitamin E.Iron
Iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen to your cells. This makes it an important mineral for many bodily functions, including hair growth. Iron deficiency, which causes anemia, is a major cause of hair loss. It’s especially common in women. Foods’s high in iron include clams, oysters, eggs, red meat, spinach and lentils.Zinc
Zinc plays an important role in hair tissue growth and repair. It also helps keep the oil glands around the follicles working properly. Hair loss is a common symptom of zinc deficiency. Studies show zinc supplements reduce hair loss caused by zinc deficiency. However, there are some anecdotal reports that supplementing with too high of a dose can also contribute to hair loss. For this reason, it may be better to get your zinc from whole foods. Food’s high in zinc includes oysters, beef, spinach, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds and lentils.Protein
Hair is made almost entirely of protein. Consuming enough is important for hair growth. Animal studies show that protein deficiency may decrease hair growth and even lead to hair loss, However, actual protein deficiency is extremely rare in Western countries.Bottom line:
Food is the best source of the vitamins you need for hair growth. However, if you fail to get enough in your diet, supplements may be helpful. According to research, supplements work best in individuals who are already deficient. Furthermore, large doses of vitamins and minerals can be harmful if you aren’t deficient. So, work with your healthcare provider to determine if you have a deficiency or not. At the end of the day, the best way to get these nutrients is by eating a balanced, real food-based diet that includes plenty of nutrient-dense foods.
Best vitamins for skin.Protein
Your body turns the proteins you eat into building blocks called amino acids and reuses them to make other proteins, including the collagen and keratin that form the structure of skin. Amino acids also help slough off old skin. Some amino acids are antioxidants that protect skin cells against UV rays and from "free radicals" made when your body breaks down certain foods or is around cigarette smoke.Vitamin A
Both the upper and lower layers of skin need vitamin A. It seems to prevent sun damage by interrupting the process that breaks down collagen. Since it's an antioxidant, it may give your skin some protection against sunburn (although not as much as wearing sunscreen). It helps the oil glands around your hair follicles work and may also help cuts and scrapes heal, especially if you're taking steroids to reduce inflammation.Vitamin B5
Also known as panthenol or pantothenic acid, Vitamin B5 is one of the best vitamins for skin. When applied topically, Vitamin B5 works to help moisturize, soothe and heal both skin and hair. For dry, itchy, or irritated skin, vitamin B5 delivers superb hydrating, healing, and calming benefits. This vitamin is also beneficial for hair strengthening and growth and is ideal for applying to the scalp and skin to encourage healthy hair growth. Skin Benefits:Increases ceramide levels, retains moisture, Enhances suppleness, and Smooths.Vitamin C
Think "C" for collagen: This vitamin helps the twisted web of protein hold its shape. It's also a powerful antioxidant, protecting you from free radicals and possibly lowering your chance of skin cancer. Low levels of vitamin C can cause easy bruising and bleeding gums, as well as slower-healing sores.Vitamin E
This antioxidant and anti-inflammatory can also absorb the energy from UV light, which damages skin and leads to wrinkles, sagging, and skin cancer. It works with vitamin C to strengthen cell walls.Folic Acid
This vitamin plays an important role in maintaining healthy, beautiful skin. Folic acid has a high concentration of antioxidants, meaning it has enhanced anti-aging effects. Not to mention that folic acid is found in some of our favorite fruits, like strawberries and raspberries. Some benefits include anti-aging, moisturizing, and antioxidant rich.Probiotics
probiotics are super beneficial ingredients for healthy, happy skin. These friendly bacteria develop when there are perfect conditions and are also naturally occurring in your digestive tract and gut. Did you know that there is a connection between our GI tract and the health of our skin? When your gut isn’t functioning properly (absorbing nutrients, eliminating toxins), your body isn’t able to fight off bad bacteria that can lead to inflammation. If clearer skin is a goal of yours, we’d recommend starting with gut health to help set yourself up for a successful skin care journey.Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 Fatty Acids are an excellent way to combat wrinkles, both by ingesting and applying topically, because they are able to help fight inflammation. Did you know that Omega 3’s is also critical for skin hydration? These healthy fats work behind-the-scenes to help lock in moisture and significantly reduce overly dry skin that leads to cracking or irritation.Collagen
Collagen is a protein responsible for healthy joints and skin elasticity, or stretchiness. It’s in your bones, muscles, and blood, comprising three quarters of your skin and a third of the protein in your body. As you age, your existing collagen breaks down, and it gets harder for your body to produce more. As a result, many people turn to collagen supplements. These supplements are usually powders, though there are also capsules and liquid supplements available.Hyaluronic Acid
While hyaluronic acid is naturally occurring in the human body, it tends to decline as we age. Applying this ingredient topically will promote more supple, hydrated skin when your natural H.A. stores begin to dwindle. Unlike some skin care ingredients, hyaluronic acid is able to deeply penetrate your skin with ease. Sodium hyaluronate helps assists skin with absorption of other hydrating and moisturizing ingredients and can hold up to 1,000 times its molecular weight in water.Flavonoids
Flavonoids are known to be rich in antioxidants, anti-carcinogenic properties, and anti-inflammatory benefits. flavonoids can be consumed and applied for similar benefit. Green tea, red wine, and dark chocolate all contain skin protecting properties from flavonoids.Vitamin K2
Also known as 'menaquinone', can increase youthful suppleness in skin, while supporting elastin and collagen production. A study in Japan also found that Japanese women who consumed fermented soy and other Vitamin K2-rich foods had higher bone density and reduced calcification of the arteries. These benefits weren’t only internal; there was a correlation found between higher bone density and reduced wrinkles.Vitamin B3
Also known as niacin or niacinamide, Vitamin B3 acts as an antioxidant with serious brightening and anti-aging abilities. According to (100percentpure) vitamin B3 “strengthens the skin’s barrier function.” That’s important for two reasons: first, a strong skin barrier helps keep moisture in, which makes your skin feel soft, smooth, and hydrated. Second, a strong skin barrier also keeps skin-damaging irritants out – that means less pollution, dirt, and oil clogging your pores.Vitamin D
Vitamin D has been linked to improved acne conditions in multiple studies, making sunshine or supplement sources beneficial for acne-prone skin types. Vitamin D has also been credited for stimulating healthy cellular growth, repair, and renewal; all are important for aging or sun-damaged skin.Coenzyme CoQ10
To reap the anti-aging benefits of Coenzyme CoQ10, you’ll need to apply it or ingest it. Adding this antioxidant to your diet or skin care routine energizes skin cells to renew your complexion, reduce oxidative damage, and lessen the severity of fine lines and wrinkles.Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
This antioxidant has been touted as more powerful than vitamins C & E, likely due to the fact that it acts as an amplifier for both. The anti-inflammatory properties of Alpha Lipoic Acid make it a useful tool for calming redness, blotchiness from eczema and rosacea, and soothing irritated skin.Vitamin F
Vitamin F complex is made up of 2 fats linoleic acid (LA), an Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an Omega-3 EFA. These are called “essential”, because our body can’t manufacture them, so you must get them from your diet. Dietary EFA’s support all your organs such as your skin, which is your largest organ, as well as your hormonal and immune system functions. So, you should make sure you get “Vitamin F” in your diet, but also double down on the benefit of these compounds through topical application.
“Vitamin F” is a building block of ceramides, which in turn participate in the integrity of skin cell membranes. The anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting benefit of “Vitamin F” helps skin strengthen its barrier function. Barrier integrity prevents excessive water loss, helps retain nutrients and moisture in, and toxins and bacteria out. Poor skin barrier integrity leads to skin dehydration, crepiness, poor healing, rough texture, acne, Rosacea and, of course, skin inflammation and aging.
Photo Credit: Michele Blackwell