Benefits of vitamin B12 for hair

Health, Fitness & Food


Did you know that there are approximately 100,000 hair follicles on your head?1 Vitamins are an essential part of good hair care and growth – but does vitamin B12 provide any benefits for hair growth?

Each hair follicle goes through four distinct phases: anagen (growth), catagen (transition), telegen (resting), and exogen (shedding).2

Hair loss is a common daily occurrence, as we usually shed between 50 to 100 hairs a day (the exogen phase of hair growth).2

While there has been some research linking deficiencies in B-vitamin complexes to hair loss,1 the studies have been small and the results at times inconclusive.  

There are eight different B vitamins:3

  • B1 (thiamin)
  • B2 (riboflavin)
  • B3 (niacin)
  • B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • B6 (pyridoxine)
  • B7 (biotin)
  • B9 (folate)
  • B12 (cobalamin)

The B vitamins can be found a variety of foods, such as:3

  • Whole grains,
  • Vegetables (especially dark, leafy greens), 
  • Meats, 
  • Fish, 
  • Whole eggs, 
  • Beans and legumes, 
  • Nuts, and
  • Avocados 

Vitamin B12 is usually obtained from eating animal products, such as:4

  • Fish, shellfish,
  • Liver,
  • Red meat,
  • Eggs,
  • Poultry,
  • Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt,
  • Fortified nutritional yeast,
  • Fortified breakfast cereals,
  • Enriched soy or rice milk,

In particular, vitamin B12 is essential for DNA synthesis, neurological functions, and formation of red blood cells.1

Red blood cells are essential for proper hair growth, in that they bring oxygen to the follicle cells. This is crucial, as the hair follicle cells stay within the anagen (or growth phase) for anywhere from three to five (or more) years.2

Approximately 90% of (or 90,000) hair follicles are within this phase/stage at any given time.2

So, the benefits of getting enough of vitamin B12 (and other B vitamin complexes) for hair may include proper hair growth and a reduction in premature hair loss. 

While there have been some studies linking deficiencies in different B-vitamin complexes to hair loss—the studies in regards to vitamin B12 have been small and the results inconclusive.1 The potential benefits for vitamin B12 for hair are based on the overall benefit of vitamin B12 (needed for DNA synthesis and red blood cell formation).1

References:

1) Almohanna HM, Ahmed AA, Tsatalis JP, and Tosti A. (2019) ‘The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review’ Dermatology and Therapy (9):51-70 https://doi.org/10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6

2) Roland, J. ‘What are the Four Stages of Hair Growth?’ https://www.healthline.com/health/stages-of-hair-growth Access: February 11, 2022

3) Ashpari, Z. ‘Can I use vitamins to promote hair growth?’ https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318403 Access: February 11, 2022

4) Havard TH, Chan School of Public Health. ‘Vitamin B12’ The Nutrition Sourcehttps://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-b12 Access February 12, 2022

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay 





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