Gorgeous, voluminous hair is something we dream of, as it’s not so easy to achieve. If you’ve been on the hunt for a magical solution to transform your tresses, look no further – Vitamin B12 could be your answer! This wonder vitamin has been praised for its numerous benefits, from providing energy and promoting healthy digestion to aiding in brain function. But did you know that it can also work wonders on your hair? In this post we’ll explore the world of Vitamin B12 and its incredible benefits on hair especially, so you can achieve the hair of your dreams without breaking the bank. But first, what is Vitamin B12? And which health benefits can it bring?
What Is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential nutrient that plays a critical role in maintaining the normal functioning of the human body (6). Like all vitamins, it is required in small amounts on a daily basis to keep the body running smoothly.
Chemically, vitamin B12 is a complex molecule that contains a single cobalt ion at its core. Unlike most other vitamins, it is not synthesized by plants, animals, or microorganisms. Instead, it is produced by certain bacteria found in the soil, as well as in the guts of animals.
The primary functions of vitamin B12 are related to energy metabolism, DNA synthesis, and red blood cell formation. One of its key roles is in the conversion of food into energy. Specifically, it acts as a cofactor for two important enzymes involved in energy production: methionine synthase and L-methylmalonyl-CoA mutase.
Methionine synthase is required for the biosynthesis of the amino acid methionine, which is necessary for protein synthesis (2). L-methylmalonyl-CoA mutase, on the other hand, plays a key role in the breakdown of certain amino acids and fatty acids for energy production (3).
In addition to its role in energy metabolism, vitamin B12 is also required for the synthesis of DNA. It acts as a cofactor for the enzyme deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) polymerase, which is essential for the replication and repair of DNA (6).
Finally, vitamin B12 is required for the formation of red blood cells. It is necessary for the production of heme, a component of hemoglobin, which is the protein that carries oxygen in the blood (6).
Dietary sources of vitamin B12 include meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products, as well as some fortified plant-based foods such as cereals and nutritional yeast (5). However, certain groups of people may be at risk for deficiency if their diet is limited in these sources, such as vegans and vegetarians.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a wide range of symptoms, from fatigue and anemia to neurological problems. It can have serious health consequences, including megaloblastic anemia, fatigue, weakness, and neurological problems (5).
In severe cases it can even lead to irreversible nerve damage. It is therefore important to ensure that you are getting enough vitamin B12 in your diet. Supplementation may be necessary for individuals at risk of deficiency.
Older adults, who may have reduced absorption of vitamin B12, vegans and vegetarians may need to supplement their diets to ensure adequate intake. In general, it is always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplements or making significant changes to your diet.
How Does Vitamin B12 Promote Hair Growth?
Hair is primarily composed of a protein called keratin. It grows from hair follicles located on the scalp and other areas of the body. The hair growth cycle consists of three phases: anagen, catagen, and telogen.
During anagen, hair grows actively for two to six years. In the catagen phase, the hair follicle shrinks, and hair growth temporarily stops. Finally, during telogen, the hair cell rests for weeks to months, and old hair falls out, making way for new hair growth.
The exact mechanism by which vitamin B12 promotes hair growth is not yet fully understood. However, studies suggest that vitamin B12 may stimulate the production of red blood cells, which provide oxygen and nutrients to hair follicles. This may help prevent hair loss and promote healthy hair growth (1).
Additionally, vitamin B12 plays a critical role in DNA synthesis, which may also contribute to healthy hair growth (4). Overall, more research is needed to fully understand the specific mechanisms by which this nutrient helps with hair growth.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause several issues for hair health, such as hair thinning, hair loss, and even premature greying. In severe cases, it can also lead to alopecia, a condition where hair loss occurs in patches on the scalp.
Because Vitamin B12 helps in the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles. Without enough supply of oxygen and nutrients, the hair follicles become weak, leading to hair loss or hair thinning. Therefore, taking supplements might help promote hair health.
How Much Vitamin B12 Per Day For Hair Growth?
As per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the recommended daily intake of Vitamin B12 for adult men and women is 2.4 mcg per day. Pregnant and nursing women require additional intake of 2.6-2.8 mcg per day (5).
The best food sources for Vitamin B12 are animal-based products such as lean meats, fish, dairy products, and eggs. Additional sources are fortified cereals and nutritional yeast.
While Vitamin B12 is commonly found in animal products, it can also be obtained from plant-based sources such as mushrooms, seaweed, fortified cereals, nutritional yeast, and fortified plant-based milk (5). Vegans and vegetarians can also opt for Vitamin B12 supplements to ensure adequate intake.
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Benefits Of Vitamin B12 Supplements
Taking a vitamin B12 supplement is a simple and inexpensive way to maintain sufficient levels of the vitamin. It may also help prevent hair loss and promote hair growth in people with a deficiency.
That said, there is little evidence to suggest that high doses of vitamin B12 can promote hair growth in people with normal levels of this vitamin. Daily intake of vitamin B12 should not exceed 2.4 mcg unless recommended by a healthcare professional.
Risks And Side Effects Of Vitamin B12 Supplements
Vitamin B12 toxicity is rare since the body naturally excretes excess amounts throughthe urine. Some side effects of taking vitamin B12 supplements are mild diarrhea, itching, and rash. Vitamin B12 supplements may interact with other medications such as antibiotics, birth control pills, and diabetic medications (5).
Other Health Benefits Of Vitamin B12
In addition to improving hair health, below are other top health benefits of Vitamin B12:
Boosts Energy Levels
One of the most common symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency is fatigue and weakness. This vitamin helps in converting food into glucose which in turn provides energy to our body (4).
Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in the production of serotonin, a chemical that uplifts our mood. Inadequate levels of Vitamin B12 can lead to depression, irritability, and other mood disorders (4).
Supports Cardiovascular Health
Research has shown that Vitamin B12 can help reduce the levels of homocysteine in the blood. High levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, making Vitamin B12 an important nutrient for maintaining cardiovascular health (6).
Supports Brain Function
Vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of our nervous system. It supports the production of myelin, a protective layer that covers nerve fibers and helps in transmitting signals throughout the body (6).
Protects Against Anemia
Vitamin B12 helps in the production of red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body (5). Low levels of Vitamin B12 can lead to anemia, which can cause fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.
Read More: Is Vitamin C Good For Hair? A Detailed Guide
Maintains Health Skin
This essential nutrient plays a crucial role in the production of DNA, which is necessary for the growth and repair of skin cells. Vitamin B12 also helps regulate the production of sebum, an oily substance that can contribute to acne and other skin disorders if overproduced (5).
Additionally, Vitamin B12 can help reduce skin inflammation and promote a healthy skin tone. It’s worth noting that a deficiency in Vitamin B12 can cause skin hyperpigmentation, a condition characterized by darkened patches of skin (5).
Supports Digestive Health
Vitamin B12 works together with other B vitamins to help regulate your digestive system (6). It helps in the production of digestive enzymes and supports the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.
Promotes Healthy Pregnancy
Vitamin B12 helps in the formation of red blood cells and the development of the fetus during pregnancy (5). Adequate levels of Vitamin B12 can also help in reducing the risk of birth defects in the baby.
Vitamin B12 plays an essential role in maintaining overall health, and taking a supplement may promote hair growth in those with a deficiency. However, it should not be taken in excess and should be used in consultation with a healthcare professional.
A well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals is crucial for maintaining optimal hair health, and taking a vitamin B12 supplement should not be a substitute for a healthy and balanced diet.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Benefits of Vitamin B12 For Hair (2022, amandeephospital.org)
- Cobalamin-dependent methionine synthase (1990, nih.gov)
- Role of vitamin B12 on methylmalonyl-CoA mutase activity (2012, nih.gov)
- Vitamin B-12 (2012, nih.gov)
- Vitamin B12 Fact Sheet for Consumers (2021, nih.gov)
- Vitamin B12 Fact Sheet for Health Professionals (2022, nih.gov)