Oh, Rapunzel. Such glorious hair–so unrealistic.
While most of us will probably never grow our hair longer than our waists, if you want to attempt Rapunzel-like locks, you’ll need to stock up on the following vitamins. Of course, these vitamins are also useful for those looking to strengthen their hair, prevent hair loss, or just grow out a really bad haircut.
Biotin is a favorite in the hair vitamin world, and you’ve probably seen it as a main ingredient in sketchy vitamin mixes that promise instant beauty. Don’t be suspicious of biotin itself, though: it prevents premature hair aging, assists in hair growth and repair and reduces breakage. You can find the most concentrated sources of biotin in eggs, milk, yeast, liver and kidney.
At the base of every hair follicle, a small gland produces sebum, your hair’s natural conditioner. Too much sebum can result in greasy locks and acne, but too little means a dry scalp and brittle hair. Vitamin A regulates sebum production, keeping your scalp lubricated and your hair moisturized. Find it in eggs, liver, fish oil, fortified foods and dark, leafy greens.
Iron is found in the hair follicle, encouraging new hair to grow. Without sufficient iron, hair growth stops, and fine, colorless hairs may grow in its place, mimicking female pattern baldness.
Women are especially at risk for iron deficiency, given their monthly cycles. Take your iron supplements with vitamin C to help absorption, or get your daily allowance from blackstrap molasses, red meat and dark green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant, mopping up free radicals to prevent damage to skin and hair. It also helps with scalp circulation, which is essential for healthy hair growth. Vitamin E is found in leafy greens, egg yolks, sardines, nuts and whole grains.
Zinc deficiency is linked to premature graying and baldness, so make sure you’re getting enough of this vital mineral. Don’t take more than 12 mg a day, though, or you may become iron-deficient, which is also bad for your hair. Get your daily dose from oysters, pumpkin seeds, eggs, wheat germ, spinach, red meat, and mushrooms.