Healthy hair is beautiful and functional. It serves as adornment and as a protective "cap" against sunburn and heat loss. Your scalp contains about 300,000 hairs. Each day, you may naturally lose up to 150 hairs and each month your hair grows about half an inch, provided you maintain adequate nutrition to foster healthy follicles -- the bulb, or root, where hair grows in your scalp. Talk to your doctor about vitamin and mineral supplements that can help to keep your hair healthy and strong.
Understanding Hair Growth
Your hair undergoes three stages in its life cycle. The first stage, called the anagen stage, is when the bulb or follicle produces the hair shaft. It is a time of increased metabolism that produces hair lengths of about three feet. It lasts between two and six years. The next stage, which lasts only a few weeks, is the catagen phase, when growth slows down. The final stage is the telogen, or resting phase, when the bulb and shaft of hair fall out and a new hair shaft begins growing below it.
Vitamin A includes a number of compounds called retinoids that consist of retinyl, retinol, retinoic acid and retinal. Retinoic and retinol are important to the development of epithelial cells, according to Dr. Clarence R. Robbins in his book, "Chemical and Physical Behaviour of Human Hair." He says they help to make keratin, which is part of the hair shaft. However, if taken in excess, vitamin A can be toxic and may inhibit hair growth. Consult with your doctor on how much to take.
Vitamins B, C and D
The vitamin B complex is necessary for the metabolizing of fats, proteins and carbohydrates to produce energy, needed during the anagen or growth stage of your hair. Vitamin C is vital to the formation of collagen, which forms the structure of blood vessels vital for nourishing the follicles as they produce the hair. Another vitamin that promotes keratinization is vitamin D-3. Vitamin D is synthesized by your skin when in contact with the sun's rays. Through a complex mechanism involving the liver and kidneys, it is converted into the active form of vitamin D -- vitamin D-3.
Iron is a key element in hemoglobin, which transports oxygen in the blood. A rich supply of blood and oxygen is needed to nourish the follicles during the growth phase of your hair. The keratin in your hair is a protein, and iron is used to support hundreds of functions involving protein metabolism, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. A 2002 article in "Clinical and Experimental Dermatology" notes that women who experienced hair loss in a double-blind study responded favorably to iron therapy.
- Rush University Medical Center: Hair Problemsrel="nofollow"
- "Chemical and Physical Behaviour of Human Hair"; Clarence R. Robbins; 2002rel="nofollow"
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitaminsrel="nofollow"
- "Clinical and Experimental Dermatology"; Nutritional Factors and Hair Loss; D. H. Rushton; August 2002rel="nofollow"
- wind in her hair image by Alexandra Gnatush-Kostenko from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.