What supplements strengthen hair?

The experts looked at five popular vitamin supplements to see what works for your hair's health and what may leave you -- and your hair -- flat.
  • Viviscal: This Scandinavian supplement contains silica (horsetail plant extract), vitamin C and a fish protein, and is one of the only ones that Doris Day, MD, a celebrity dermatologist in New York City, recommends to her patients. “I’ve observed it help with hair thickness and regrowth, especially around the temple area,” she told us. You take it twice a day for the first three months and then once a day after that.
  • Biotin: Some research suggests that biotin (part of the B complex vitamins) may improve brittle nails and thinning hair. Many experts recommend a biotin supplement for hair health because it’s water-soluble (meaning your body excretes what it doesn’t need) and doesn’t have any side effects. In other words: Why not?
  • Vitamin D: The sunshine vitamin is important for a number of body functions (like aiding in calcium absorption), but experts are exploring the role it may play in hair health as well. Experts aren’t sure exactly how the level of vitamin D in your body directly influences your hair growth, but many still think it’s a good idea to take vitamin D to ensure that your body has what it needs to sprout healthy, strong strands. (Your doc can give you a quick blood test to assess.)
  • Saw palmetto extract: This herbal remedy is processed from fruit of the American dwarf pine tree and may have some benefit for your hair, says Paradi Mirmirani, M.D., a dermatologist at the Permanente Medical Group in Vallejo, California. A small study found that 60% of patients who took a saw palmetto extract supplement said that their hair growth improved compared to just 10% of people taking a placebo.
  • Vitamin A: This antioxidant is often used in general hair, skin and nail supplement formulas because it is involved in skin regeneration, and is included in multivitamins for its benefits to vision and immunity. While it’s important to get enough vitamin A, too much can be dangerous. Going over the recommended daily intake can be harmful to your liver, cause fatigue and nausea as well as -- ironically -- hair loss. Make sure you read your vitamin labels and avoid taking multiple doses so you don’t over do it.
Dr. Pina LoGiudice, LAc, ND
Naturopathic Medicine
Try black currant for weak and thinning hair. Black currant fruits and juice, known to be rich in a specific flavonoid called anthocyanoside, are commonly consumed in many parts of the world and contain gamma linolenic acid (GLA). GLA can help in a number of different circumstances including eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, premenstrual syndrome and attention deficit disorder.

GLA helps strengthen hair and decrease breakage by helping to decrease the effect of imbalanced hormonal effects, which weaken and thin your hair. A typical supplemental dose is 500 milligrams twice a day.
Dr. Peter Bongiorno, ND
Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Doctor and Licensed Acupuncturist Dr. Peter Bongiorno shares some supplements you can take to help strengthen weak hair naturally. Watch Dr. Bongiorno's video for tips on naturopathic remedies and alternative treatments.

Continue Learning about Dietary Supplements

Dietary Supplements

Whether you're visiting the drug store, grocery or natural food shop you'll likely find an aisle where there are jars and bottles of things for you to put in your body that are neither foods nor medicines. Ranging from vitamins an...

d minerals to fiber and herbal remedies, these supplements are not regulated in the same way as either food or medicine. Some of them are backed by solid research, others are folk remedies or proprietary cures. If your diet does not include enough of certain vitamins or minerals, a supplement may be a good idea. Natural treatment for conditions like constipation may be effective. But because these substances are unregulated, it is always a good idea to educate yourself about the products and to use common sense when taking them. This is even more true if you are pregnant or taking a medicine that may be affected by supplements.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.