Best Vitamin D Supplements for Hair Growth
Vitamin D, a fat-soluble nutrient, contributes to more than just your internal health. Many people know that vitamin D is critical for healthy bones, immune system, and weight, but did you know that it can also improve the health of your hair?
A 2013 study of 80 women suffering from hair loss (chronic female pattern hair loss or telogen effluvium) found that compared to women of the same age who had not experienced hair loss, the group with hair loss were low in vitamin D. The researchers recommended that supplementation would likely reverse the disease. Another study 3 years later measuring D3 levels came to the same conclusion: low levels of vitamin D are strongly associated with female pattern hair loss. The hair loss condition alopecia areata has also been linked to low vitamin D levels and another study found a topical vitamin D analog cream (meaning D2 or D3) was an effective alopecia treatment.
What about people who don't suffer from hair loss disease, but still want a thicker, fuller head of hair?
Good news: there's evidence that vitamin D universally promotes hair growth. A 2020 review of the skin-specific aspects of vitamin D metabolism specifically listed hair growth as one of vitamin D's benefits. Animal studies with vitamin D have been promising as well. Vitamin D3 supplements were given at a high dose to nude mice (mice that would otherwise not grow hair) and dramatically stimulated their hair growth in addition to causing them to grow normal hair follicles!
The reverse was shown as well: mice fed a low calcium, low vitamin D diet develop hair loss. When pregnant mice were fed a low vitamin D diet during pregnancy (in the same study), the pups were born with alopecia!
If you're experiencing hair loss or thinning, the treatments available can be drastic or invasive (like implanting an artificial scalp on top of your own scalp) and expensive. If your hair trouble is caused by low vitamin D, addressing the root cause (no pun intended!) by improving vitamin D levels is a much more pleasant and inexpensive option that could have benefits for the rest of your body, too.
Here are our top picks for vitamin D for hair. Keep reading to see what we love about each of them!
Most potent and effective:
Best for General Hair Support:
Best Simple D3:
Best with Herbs:
Why take Vitamin D Supplements?
The skin synthesizes vitamin D3 from sun exposure (in particular, from UV-B rays), but prolonged exposure to the sun's UV rays also comes with the increased risk of developing skin cancer. On top of that, vitamin D insufficiency is incredibly common: about 50% of the world's population is affected.
Our lifestyles are likely to blame. We spend more time indoors, the air is often polluted making it difficult to absorb enough UV-B even when we're outdoors, and many medications and health conditions can interfere with vitamin D synthesis. Even in perfect conditions, living far from the equator means there are many months of the year when there is limited access to sunshine.
Studies have described the global low levels of vitamin D as a "pandemic" and indicated we need more vitamin D than previously recommended to combat chronic conditions and diseases associated with low levels, especially since low vitamin D is associated with higher overall mortality.
So if vitamin D deficiency is a serious cause for concern and most of us are susceptible, what should we do? There aren't many foods that are good sources of vitamin D. One of the best options to reverse a deficiency from food sources is cod liver oil, but this does carry the added risk of vitamin A toxicity. Trout and salmon are also good sources.
If you suspect you're low in vitamin D and want to supplement it's best to talk to your doctor (especially to avoid any harmful interactions with medications), but supplementation is the best option for many people.
Other Benefits of Vitamin D
Besides contributing to a healthy, thick head of hair, adequate vitamin D has other important health benefits:
● Reduces Depression:
Vitamin D plays an indispensable role in mitigating depression. A 2013 Cambridge meta-analysis found a strong link between low vitamin D levels and depression. Another review confirmed that depression symptoms could be reversed through vitamin D supplementation, although further research is necessary to confirm vitamin D as a direct cause.
● Healthy Babies:
Vitamin D is important for the development of healthy bones and teeth, nervous system health, and lung and heart development. It's also important in preventing contagious illness and infections.
● Fights Influenza:
According to the 2018 publication, "Vitamin D and Influenza--Prevention or Therapy," vitamin D should be considered as a critical component in preventing disease (especially the flu). The review concluded that research proves vitamin D is, without a doubt, essential to fighting the flu and reducing influenza mortality rates.
● Promotes Healthy Pregnancy:
Vitamin D deficiency leads to more premature births and even pregnancy-related severe complications like preeclampsia, as per the 2019 study titled "Evidence of an Association between Vitamin D Deficiency and Preterm Birth and Preeclampsia."
Adequate vitamin D levels are critical for the health of both pregnant mothers and their babies.
What are the Forms of Vitamin D?
There are two main forms of Vitamin D nutrients. They are:
● Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol)
● Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)
Vitamin D2 is derived from plants, grains, yeasts, mushrooms, orange juice, and some dairy products like milk as well as soy milk.
Vitamin D3 is derived from fish like cod liver oil, tuna, sardines, salmon, etc. It can also be obtained from beef liver, egg yolks, as well as trout.
Why is Vitamin D3 the Best Form of Vitamin D?
Both vitamin D2 and D3 are good options for reversing a deficiency; however, there's evidence it may be preferable to take D3. Vitamin D3 is the same form produced in your skin from sun exposure, which is why it's often called "the sunshine vitamin".
One study Vitamin D3 was found to be superior at raising vitamin D levels. Another study conducted on post-menopausal women with vitamin D deficiencies found that D3 produced about twice the level of vitamin D in their body compared to D2.
Top 5 Vitamin D Supplements for Hair Growth
Below you'll find our top 5 Ingredient Nerd-recommended vitamin D supplements specifically for hair growth. As always, we meticulously choose our recommendations based on value for money, reputation of the manufacturers, customer reviews, and most importantly, the ingredient list. Below you'll find the best 5 vitamin D supplements to help your hair grow back fuller and healthier than ever.
Most potent and effective: Why Not Natural D3-K2
Why We Love It: Vitamin K2 is the secret weapon for an effective D3 formula. It helps move the D3 away from arteries and get it where you want it to go, like bones (and hair follicles!).
These capsules have another hidden benefit for your hair with their inclusion of spirulina. This algae is rich in magnesium, which dissolves calcium deposits to help you grow more and lose less hair. The ingredient list is ultra-pure so you're not getting anything that could counteract the benefits, and the price makes it a steal.
Best Neutraceutical: Phyllotex Hair Growth Vitamins
Why We Love It: This formula contains zinc picolinate (one of the best forms of zinc) which, combined with the other nutrients, helps target the main causes of hair loss. Reviewers rave about their dramatic results from using these vitamins. The main downside is that they're quite expensive for just one month of capsules, but compared to hair replacement and thickening treatments (including extensions), the cost is minor!
Best for General Hair Support: Olly Ultra Hair Softgels
Why We Love It: This supermarket staple brand's formula contains biotin and keratin, two ingredients that have been shown to support healthy hair. The vitamin D dose isn't very high so this may not address a deficiency, but for general hair health (especially for those not experiencing hair loss) this is a good choice. Many reviewers report acne breakouts so those with acne-prone skin should stay away.
Best Simple D3: Solgar Vitamin D3
Why We Love It: If you already take Vitamin K2 separately (we highly recommend combining K2 with your D3), you may be on the lookout for a pure D3 supplement. These capsules are potent (5000 IU per serving) and contain a generous amount of servings. If you like to keep things simple, this is a great choice with the superior D3 form of vitamin D.
Best with Herbs: Nature's Nutrition Hair Vitamins
Why We Love It: A lot of hair blends only contain a small amount of the active ingredients, but these ones include a non-negligible amount of biotin plus herbs that support hair growth, and of course, because they contain a good amount of vitamin D3! These are a great choice for those on a budget as they're very inexpensive.
Excessive hair loss can be due to various factors like stress, lack of sleep, and even genetic conditions. It's not always the result of a vitamin D deficiency, so when in doubt, consult your doctor to measure your vitamin D levels.