Folate for Hair Growth: Does it Work?

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Benefits of using folate for hair growth

If you’re experiencing thinning hair, you could try folate to support hair growth. Just like our body needs nourishment to stay healthy, our hair needs certain nutrients to maintain a healthy growth cycle. These nutrients can support nourishing our scalp and hair follicles through a well-balanced and healthy diet — along with smart supplementation when needed. When we talk about healthy hair growth, we cannot ignore the benefits of folate, which is a water-soluble B vitamin. Like other vitamins, it doesn’t promote hair growth on its own, but as a team in conjunction with other B vitamins. It’s not only good for our hair, but also helps in the formation of red blood cells and maintaining a healthy body. 

What is folate?

Folate, or vitamin B9, is a naturally occurring member of the B Vitamin family found in foods like edamame, dried lentils, and asparagus. Folic acid is the form of folate that can be found in dietary supplements and fortified foods.

Why is folate important for hair health?

A diet with sufficient folate can help support healthier hair growth. This B vitamin is important for your hair because it has a hand in keeping so many functions of your body running smoothly! Starting with the foundations of flourishing hair, folate plays an important role in DNA synthesis and how we replicate our cells, which truly is the groundwork of how our body gets (and keeps) us going. 

To get even more specific, folate is key in keeping our red blood cells circulating in healthy numbers, which ensures a steady flow of the nutrients and oxygen our hard-at-work hair follicles need. Hair growth, being an energy-dependent process, leans on folate and other B vitamins to help us break down our food and generate energy. Folate also helps our hair growth cycle avoid unwanted roadblocks. For example, folate helps support optimal blood sugar regulation, which helps us side step the unwanted impacts of insulin resistance. Not only is optimal blood sugar metabolism important for overall health, but the micro-inflammation and stress dysregulations like this cause can be enough to send you on the road to hair loss (and no one wants that!).

What foods contain folate?

Excellent sources of folate in natural food are green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, edamame, avocados, asparagus, beans, beets, and broccoli. In the US, most cereal and grain products are fortified with folate. Eating a variety of these may help support  your hair growth rate.

What is the recommended dosage of dietary folate?

Some people get enough folate from their normal diet, while some may need to take supplements to get enough. Becoming at-risk of not reaching daily folate goals is usually associated with underlying factors such as poor diet, alcoholism, or issues with absorption, which can stem from medical conditions, imbalances of the gut flora, or even stress. People aged 14 and older are recommended to aim for 400 micrograms of folate per day. If you’re pregnant, it is recommended to increase intake to 600 micrograms per day. If you want to eat more folate for hair growth, talk to your doctor about the daily amount that may be right for you. 

What’s the best way to integrate folic acid into your routine?

If you’re looking to safeguard your daily intake of folate and other B vitamins through supplementation, keep in mind that different forms of folate may be more beneficial than others. Some individuals have difficulty “activating” certain B vitamins on their own, and issues in your gut, such as changes to pH, may interfere with folate absorption. All of these potential pitfalls point to a well-absorbable form for folate as the best solution. Choosing a “pre-activated,” or methylated, form of folate is a great way to ensure your body will be able to utilize this nutrient efficiently. Additionally, research supports that choosing a sublingual form of a B complex, such as Nutrafol’s Vitamin B Booster, is your best bet to make certain you’re getting optimal absorption of B vitamins. 

Do certain hair types benefit more from folate?

Because folate plays such a vital role in DNA production, researchers speculate there’s a big connection between this nutrient and the cells of your quickly propagating hair follicles. One study exploring nutrient levels in sufferers of premature greying hair found that participants had lower than normal levels of folate when tested. When taken as part of a multi-nutrient support approach, folate was found to help support significant improvement of hair loss associated with telogen effluvium, or stress-related hair loss, indicating that this nutrient can be an important part of a multifactorial approach to hair growth support.

So really… does folate help hair growth?

Studies have shown that folate and hair growth are linked, so it’s no surprise that deficiencies in folate and other B Vitamins have been connected to poor hair health. 

Hair loss can be a sign of a poor diet and lead to folate deficiency. It’s important to note, again, that folate’s role in forming our red blood cells hugely benefits the hair follicles. Folate deficiency can cause anemia, which is when the body does not produce enough red blood cells. The red blood cells provide our body tissues with oxygen and nutrients, which means if they are too few, our body organs – including the scalp and hair follicles – don’t get enough of these important things. 

By supporting healthy populations of red blood cells, this B vitamin helps ensure they can continually keep a flow of nutrients going to your follicles, helping them stay well nourished and thriving. Other cell activity also slows down without sufficient folate. This makes the production of new hair strands slower, potentially resulting in hair growth issues.

In short, ensuring you get enough folate can help in the regeneration of cells, including those of your hair follicles. It works in conjunction with other vitamins to assist the metabolism of food, the maintenance of DNA, and supporting the ability of red blood to transport the oxygen and nutrients you need. If you do not get enough folate through your normal diet, or are concerned that obstacles are getting in the way of your absorption, considering a natural supplement may be a good option for you.

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. MELISSA ANZELONE, ND

on September 8, 2016

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