B vitamins: why are they vital for hair?

B vitamins: why are they vital for hair?
Written by
Morgan German

We all know how profound vitamins are for our bodies. While the roles of some are clear, such as vitamin C connecting with the immune system, and D supporting healthy bone, some are not that apparent. With lots of members existing in the family, B vitamins are in the latter. 

Therefore, this blog aims to provide you with detailed information about several essential B vitamins and their impacts on hair growth and its general well-being. 

 

B Vitamins and their impacts on hair health

1. B vitamins family

B vitamins are water-soluble and consist of 8 different groups:

  • B1 (Thiamine)
  • B2 (Riboflavin)
  • B3 (Niacin)
  • B5 (Pantothenic acid)
  • B6
  • B7 (Biotin)
  • B9 (Folate)
  • B12
In a normal condition, you can acquire the recommended daily allowances of these vitamins through a balanced diet, with one exception of vitamin B7 being readily produced inside the body. 

These micronutrients benefit your body by supporting brain and heart function and maintaining the health of skin, nails, and hair. In addition, this type of vitamin is vital to your energy levels and general well-being since they are part of the energy-production system within cells.  

2. The role of B vitamins for hair

Being critical for hair wellness, B vitamins function as a "metaboliser”. They feature prominently in transforming and maximising the nutrient value, thus helping your follicles get the most out of the food intake. Indeed, the condition of undernourished follicles in people who suffer from hair loss might result from deficiencies in the insufficient level of B1, B2, B3 and B5. 

Besides, they also contribute to the process of creating red blood cells. These cells, in turn, have a significant role in carrying oxygen and nutrients to the scalp and hair follicles. These processes are thus of great importance for hair well-being and hair growth.

Interestingly, there is growing evidence showing the benefit of using B vitamin-based nutritional treatment combined with topical minoxidil to deal with hair loss. For instance, the clinical results have represented the superiority of the combination treatment for female androgenetic alopecia compared with the use of minoxidil only.

Within the scope of this article, we would like to get into the details of the three B vitamins: B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin) and B5 (Pantothenic acid).

 

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Vitamin B2 is a component of two important coenzymes: flavin mononucleotide (FMN) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD). These coenzymes are involved in processes of cellular development and function, metabolism of fats, and energy production. 

Although Vitamin B2 only exists on a modest scale in the liver, heart, and kidneys, research has proven that a lack of riboflavin in your body can induce hair loss. In general, this vitamin contributes to the normal metabolism of iron, protects cells from oxidative stress, and reduces tiredness and fatigue. All of these relate significantly to hair wellness.

That explains well why vitamin B2 deficiency is one of the nutrient deficiencies that could impede hair growth. Simply put, maintaining a stable level is necessary for your hair quality and quantity. 

Riboflavin can be found in a wide range of food sources. You can acquire this vitamin in dairy products, meat, vegetables, nuts, legumes, leafy and dark greens. Besides, almonds, wheat germ, wild rice, and mushrooms are also good sources of riboflavin. Meanwhile, the richest sources are torula (nutritional) yeast, brewer's yeast, and calf liver. 

Because vitamin B2 is heat stable, you can comfortably cook your food any way you prefer. Regardless of your preparation methods, riboflavin levels will not diminish. Prolonged exposure to light, on the other hand, can lower the riboflavin level substantially. 

 

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

There are many other names for vitamin B3 that you might come across on the internet, including nicotinamide, nicotinic acid, and vitamin PP (PP stands for Pellagra Prevention).

Niacin influences water transformation of skin, cause blood vessels dilation, detoxifies skin and is critical for keeping hair in proper state. Vitamin B3 also transforms food into energy, thus contributing to the maintenance of your nervous system and skin health.

When niacin deficiency occurs, it leads to pellagra, a systemic disease that results from severe vitamin B3. Diffuse hair loss is a frequent clinical finding as a result of pellagra.

Main sources of niacin in the diet include both plant and animal origin. You can acquire vitamin B3 in meat, whole wheat grains, legume vegetables, seeds, fish, peanuts, shellfish and yeast. However, sources with high levels of niacin include beef, pork, wheat flour, maize (corn) flour, eggs, and cow’s milk. 

 

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)

Vitamin B5 contributes to the normal synthesis and metabolism of steroid hormones, vitamin D, and neurotransmitters. Moreover, it reduces tiredness and fatigue in terms of maintaining your mental performance. 

Noticeably, this vitamin increases hair follicles’ nourishment, has moisturising abilities that give hair proper moisture, thus effectively assisting proper hair growth. Scientists have proved that pantothenic acid can also prevent too early hair greying and restore its natural colour.  

The deficiency of vitamin B5 can weaken your hair follicles, leading to an upset hair growth cycle, and eventually leading to hair loss. Also, there is increasing evidence showing its positive effects in hair loss treatments.

Ensuring a decent level of vitamin B is an essential part of a healthy diet as it can strengthen your hair follicles cells and prevent hair thinning due to deficiency. You can find products rich in B5 vitamin effortlessly in abundant food sources. (Fun fact: Its name is from the Greek word “panthos” which translates as "from everywhere”). 

Foods such as meats, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fish contain high levels of vitamin B5. Hence, you should be alert that a considerable amount of vitamin B5 in food is often lost throughout the food processing procedure.



Table 1: Summary of the roles of vitamin B2, B3 and B5


Conclusion

As a food source metabolizer, B vitamins transform nutrients from food to your body and hair follicles. Therefore, this type of vitamin is crucial for hair growth as well as the general well-being of your hair. Studies have supported the benefit of using specific B vitamins in hair loss treatment.

Vitamin B2, B3, and B5 connect to hair health implicitly and explicitly by their influences on hair follicles. That is to say, their stable levels are necessary to avoid hair shedding due to deficiencies. In other words, when your body experiences a lack of these vitamins, hair loss more likely happens. 

Luckily, it is easy to find these B vitamins in foods such as vegetables, grains, and certain types of meat. Noticeably, to ensure their amount in food, the heat levels and cooking methods used might be considered to preserve the most vitamin amount in your food. In some cases, you can take their supplements with a consultancy from doctors.


Disclaimer:

The information we provide is not intended to mitigate, prevent, treat, cure or diagnose any disease or condition. If you have any concerns about your health, please consult your doctor.



References:

  1. Almohanna, H.M., Ahmed, A.A., Tsatalis, J.P. et al. The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb) 9, 51–70 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6
  2. Buehler BA. Vitamin B2: Riboflavin. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. April 2011:88-90. doi:10.1177/1533210110392943
  3. Kelly, G. S. (2011). Pantothenic acid. Alternative Medicine Review, 16(3), 263+. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A269531006/ITOF?u=tampere&sid=bookmark-ITOF&xid=4e78db98
  4. Vandamme, Erick J., and José Luis Revuelta. Industrial Biotechnology of Vitamins, Biopigments, and Antioxidants, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2016. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/tampere/detail.action?docID=4451529.
  5. Tardy, A. L., Pouteau, E., Marquez, D., Yilmaz, C., & Scholey, A. (2020). Vitamins and Minerals for Energy, Fatigue, and Cognition: A Narrative Review of the Biochemical and Clinical Evidence. Nutrients, 12(1), 228. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12010228