While there is undoubtedly a link between proper nutrition and hair growth, the internet is awash with recommendations to take folic acid to stop hair loss. Unfortunately, many of the reports online are misleading, citing studies carried out on cows rather than human beings. Needless to say, our bovine friends have a slightly different diet and digestive system than our own.
Does folic acid really help hair growth?
A possible symptom of folic acid (a.k.a. vitamin B9) deficiency is hair loss, but this is not usually experienced in isolation. Before you even notice that your hair is falling out, you may have other symptoms such as chronic diarrhea, tongue swelling or anemia. Taking a folic acid supplement will only stop your hair loss if you are specifically suffering from a folic acid deficiency. If you are unsure, you must consult your doctor, who will help you to understand your symptoms.
The reality is that most people are able to get sufficient folic acid from eating foods that contain it in abundance. Eggs, citrus fruits, dark leafy green vegetables, and some grains or breakfast cereals either naturally contain folic acid or have been fortified with it. If for any reason you are unable to eat any of these foods in your normal diet, then your doctor may recommend a supplement. This will not harm your body’s natural hair growth cycle, but is not enough alone to nourish hair from within. Find the best vitamins for hair growth.
Should I take folic acid as a prenatal vitamin for hair growth?
Folic acid is a popular ingredient in prenatal vitamin supplements, and for good reason. Ensuring that your body has an abundant supply of folic acid during pregnancy can help to protect your unborn fetus from certain birth defects that can affect the spine or brain. This is the reason why most prenatal vitamins contain folic acid, while most reputable hair loss vitamins do not.
Prenatal vitamins have developed a reputation as effective for promoting hair growth. However, there is very little evidence to support this claim, and scientists believe that any benefit is due to some shared ingredients with hair vitamins.
In addition, the association between folic acid supplements and hair growth may have come about because thick hair growth is a natural side effect of hormonal changes during pregnancy. Pregnant women usually take prenatal vitamins during this time, leading to the misperception that these supplements, and not natural surges in pregnancy hormones, are the cause of this hair growth.
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Can I get enough folic acid by changing my diet?
Changing what you eat is one of the simplest ways to ensure you get enough folic acid. If you are not pregnant, chances are that you already have enough folic acid in your diet. Many foods are naturally rich in folic acid, or have been artificially fortified with it to reduce deficiency in those without access to fresh vegetables.
Some common foods that naturally contain folic acid include…
- Mustard greens
- Romaine lettuce
- Kidney beans
- Green peas
- Green beans
- Brussels sprouts
The list goes on. Not to mention the other artificially fortified cereals and grains, some of which are as ubiquitous as bread.
What about other B vitamins for hair growth?
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, folic acid is classed as a B vitamin. There are other B vitamins such as Biotin (B7), which show more convincing evidence in promoting healthy hair growth. Biotin is likely to be found less often in your existing diet, and for many people, taking a supplement can solve a very real deficiency problem. This article outlines some of the facts about biotin for hair growth.
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