Hair vitamins: everything you need to know

Author Yummygums
Last update: 5 March, 2021

Haar vitamines

Micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals support a wide range of processes in your body. This includes energy supply, digestion and the functioning of your immune system. One of the functions of vitamin A, vitamin B2, B3, B8 and vitamin C is to ensure healthy skin and strong hair (Vitamine Info, 2020). The minerals zinc, iodine, selenium and copper also play a pivotal role in maintaining healthy hair. A shortage of B vitamins can therefore be a cause of excessive hair loss (De Nederlandse Haarstichting, 2020). Vitamins or minerals are added to some cosmetics with the promise that the skin will absorb them. Your skin can only absorb a small number of substances, however, so a moisturiser with vitamins will only be effective if it contains a very high dosage. If you are ready to take the condition of your skin and hair to the next level, getting vitamins and minerals through food and supplements is not only more practical, but also more effective.

Daily hair loss

Average individuals have some 100,000 to 150,000 hairs on their heads and lose about 100 to 120 per day. This is because your head of hair grows in cycles: each hair follicle grows about 0.3 millimetres per day (almost a centimetre a month) for 2 to 8 years, after which it enters a resting phase of 2 months. After these two months, the hair falls out and a new one grows in its place. As each hair is at a different point in the cycle, the number of new hairs that grow each day is roughly the same as the number that fall out. To some extent, hair loss is normal. True hair loss is only experienced when the daily hair loss is significantly higher than what it previously was. Excessive hair loss can be caused by physical or emotional stress, taking antidepressants or contraceptives, or by changes in lifestyle. Take, for example, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and the physical stress of childbirth. The best thing to do against hair loss, aside from identifying and resolving the cause, is not to stress about it unnecessarily. Worrying about hair loss could cause you to lose even more hair (Women’s Health, 2016), (Vitamin Info, 2020).

Did you know that Yummygums contain nearly every vitamin your body needs?

You can find them in food, drinks and supplements: vitamins.

View our Yummygums

Fat- and water-soluble vitamins

Vitamins can be divided into two groups: water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble vitamins. They can be found in foods high in fatty acids, such as oily fish, oil and nuts. Water-soluble vitamins are mainly found in foods such as vegetables, fruit and grains. Fat-soluble vitamins can be partially stored by your body to enable the creation of a small reserve. The water-soluble vitamins cannot be stored by your body. If you consume too many of these vitamins, you simply pass them out again (Eigen kracht, 2019).

What are hair vitamins?

Hair vitamins are vitamins that support processes which promote hair growth and health. It used to be claimed that pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) can help prevent hair loss, but this has never been proven. What is certain is that vitamins and minerals help the body during stressful periods. The most important hair vitamins will be explained in detail later in this article.

Recommended intake

To zoom in on which vitamins are good for your hair, it is useful to know in what quantities you need these vitamins. To this end, the standards RDA, AI and acceptable upper limit are used. These are explained below:

RDA
For each nutrient, the Health Council of the Netherlands recommends the amount that healthy individuals require on a daily basis. These dietary standards are often referred to as the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Sometimes the (mention of) RDA leads to confusion. For example, some individuals require higher doses of certain vitamins than the RDA. Labels of vitamin supplements often indicate a certain percentage of the RDA or of the RI (reference intake). The reference intake is comparable to the RDA.

Adequate intake
Adequate intake (AI) is an estimate of the lowest amount of nutrients that is sufficient for almost all individuals. This value is used when no RDA can be established and is therefore not a target, but an estimate of the minimum amount.

Acceptable upper limit
Taking in excessive quantities of vitamins and minerals over a long period of time can be bad for your health. To give an idea of what an ‘excessive dose’ is, an acceptable upper limit has been set for each nutrient. This is the highest intake at which no harmful effects on health occur. For substances that do not occur naturally in food, but have been added to it, a different indicator applies. The maximum quantity of these substances that can be ingested without detriment to your health is indicated with the acceptable daily intake (ADI). Examples are E-numbers, veterinary medicines and pesticides.

Selenium

Selenium is a mineral that promotes hair growth and is important for the overall condition of your hair. Selenium is found in the liver and is an antioxidant: it protects cells from damage. In addition, selenium supports the functioning of the thyroid gland and reduces the toxicity of heavy metals, which sometimes end up in food due to contamination. In animal and plant products, selenium occurs in the forms selenomethionine, selenocysteine, selenite or selenate. The forms selenomethionine and selenocysteine occur most often in food and are better absorbed by the body than selenite or selenate.

Nutrition
Selenium is found – in small quantities – in both animal and plant products. Meat, offal (such as liver), fish, shellfish, whole grain grains, dairy products and certain nuts (especially Brazil nuts) are rich in selenium. In plant sources, such as vegetables and grains, the amount depends on the selenium content of the soil in which they grow. Selenium is added to almost all livestock feed, so it also ends up in meat products.

Health effects
On average, your body absorbs 70 per cent of the selenium in your diet. Nevertheless, a selenium deficiency does not normally occur in the Netherlands. In general, a deficiency only occurs when someone is given parenteral nutrition (nutrition via the bloodstream).
Symptoms of selenium deficiency are heart murmurs, muscle pain and muscle weakness. It is almost impossible to consume too much selenium, unless you take supplements with a very high dose. Selenium is a water-soluble mineral, which means that if you consume more selenium than you require, you will excrete the excess. The acceptable upper limit, however, is there for a reason: too much selenium can still cause damage in the time between intake and excretion. A selenium overdose can be recognised by the loss of hair, nails and teeth, skin damage and nervous system disorders.

Recommended intake
The Health Council of the Netherlands has determined a guideline for the amount of selenium you should take in on a daily basis. This is an approximate estimate of how much you require. We call that certain amount the adequate intake (Health Council of the Netherlands, 2018). It is not possible to determine the RDA because there is little research available on how this value is generated (Health Council of the Netherlands, 2018). As excessive intake of selenium has negative health effects, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has set an acceptable upper limit for selenium.

Adequate intake of selenium (micrograms/day)

Age Men Women*
6 to 11 months 15 15
1 to 2 years 20 20
2 to 5 years 25 25
6 to 9 years 30 30
9 to 13 years 40 40
14 to 17 years 60 50
>18 years 70 70

Pregnant and lactating women require 60 micrograms per day.

Acceptable upper limit for selenium (micrograms/day)

Age Male/female
1 to 3 years 60
4 to 6 years 90
7 to 10 years 130
11 to 14 years 200
15 to 17 years 250
>18 years 300

(Dutch Health Council, 2018) (Vitamin Info, 2020), (Dutch Nutrition Centre, 2020)

Biotin

Biotin is the most important vitamin for maintaining hair healthy and is also called vitamin B8. This vitamin is required to release energy from food and plays a role in the formation of fatty acids. Biotin also contributes to the maintenance and functioning of your nervous system. It supports hair growth and keeps your hair strong, beautiful and shiny. Biotin nourishes the skin from the inside out and supports its regenerative capacity (Voedingscentrum, 2020).

Nutrition
Biotin is often incorporated into shampoos or other hair products, but its effect is negligible. Biotin is called “biocytin” when combined with the amino acid lysine. Biotin or biocytin is found naturally in some foods. Biotin is usually used in supplements and as a food additive. This vitamin is found in eggs, liver, milk, soya products, nuts and peanuts. Eating excessive raw eggs can cause a shortage of biotin. Raw egg whites contain avidin, a substance that prevents the absorption of biotin by the body. This effect of avidin does not occur when you heat the egg, like during cooking or baking.

Health effects
A biotin deficiency is almost non-existent, unless you consume excessive amounts of raw eggs. Skin disorders, anaemia and depression can indicate a shortage of biotin. Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that if you take in more biotin than you require, you will lose the excess through your urine. There are no known adverse effects from a high intake of vitamin B8.

Recommended intake
The Health Council of the Netherlands has established an adequate intake for biotin that you can use as a guideline for daily intake. You do not need to use this amount as a target value, but it indicates the approximate amount you require. It is not possible to determine the RDA because there is little research available on how this value is generated (Health Council of the Netherlands, 2018). The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has not set an acceptable upper limit for biotin because, as far as is known, no negative health effects have been found with an excess of biotin.

Adequate intake for biotin (micrograms/day)

Age Male/female
0 to 5 months 4
6 to 11 months 6
1 to 3 years 20
4 to 10 years 25
11 to 17 years 25
>18 years 40

*Pregnant women require 40 micrograms per day, lactating women require 45 micrograms.
(Health Council of the Netherlands, 2018)
(Vitamin Info, 2020), (Nutrition Centre, 2020)

Copper

The mineral copper is involved in pigmentation in both skin and hair. Copper also ensures that iron is captured in haemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen and carbon dioxide in red blood cells) and can thus be distributed throughout the body. In addition, copper is important for a good resistance and the energy supply of your body and it plays a role in the formation of connective tissue and bone tissue. The absorption of copper is inhibited by zinc and by a daily intake of more than 1500 milligrams of vitamin C. The skin and hair receive their colour from the presence of melanin, also known as pigment. Melanocytes (skin cells that produce melanin) produce sachets of pigment granules that are passed on to the horny cells. This causes the epidermis – the top layer of skin – to change colour.

Nutrition
Copper is found in fruit and vegetables, cocoa products, (wholemeal) grains, nuts, offal, sea fish and shellfish.

Health effects
Copper deficiency is rare in most individuals. The risk of deficiency is higher in newborn or prematurely born children, and children who have been malnourished. Copper is water soluble, which means that if you take in more copper than you require, you will excrete the excess. Exceeding the acceptable upper limit is not recommended: too much copper can still cause damage in the time between intake and excretion.

Recommended intake
The Health Council of the Netherlands has drawn up recommendations for the amount of copper that healthy individuals require on a daily basis. These dietary standards are referred to as the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has set an upper safe level of copper intake.

Recommended daily allowance for copper (milligrams/day)

Age Male/female*
6 to 11 months 0,3
1 to 2 years 0,3
2 to 5 years 0,4
6 to 9 years 0,5
9 to 13 years 0,7
14 to 17 years 0,9
>18 years 0,9

Pregnant women require 1.0 milligrams per day, lactating women 1.3 milligrams.

Acceptable limit for copper (milligrams/day)

Age Male/female
1 to 3 years 1
4 to 6 years 2
7 to 10 years 2
11 to 14 years 4
15 to 17 years 4
>18 years 5

(Dutch Health Council, 2018)
(Vitamin Info, 2020), (Dutch Nutrition Centre, 2020)

Zinc

Zinc is a mineral that is very important for strong hair and general health. The presence of Zinc is namely essential to protein generation. Strong hair is less likely to split, and so it stays beautiful longer. Together with a large number of enzymes (substances requireed to enable various processes), zinc is involved in metabolism. Zinc also ensures the proper functioning of the immune system.

Nutrition
Zinc is found in small quantities in many different foods. Products that contain high levels of zinc are meat, cheese, cereal products, brown rice, legumes, nuts, herring and seafood, such as shrimps and mussels.

Health effects
There are no known cases of zinc deficiency in the Netherlands. Zinc deficiency can be recognised by abnormalities of the skin, mucous membranes and skeleton. Other signs include stunted growth and development of the sexes, reduced resistance to infection and night blindness. Smell and taste receptors can also be affected, which alters the ability to smell and taste. Furthermore, it is virtually impossible to ingest too much zinc through food. However, if you consume high doses of zinc tablets every day for a long period, you may develop a copper deficiency. This is because the absorption of copper is inhibited by the absorption of zinc and vitamin C. Zinc is a water-soluble mineral, which means that if you take in more zinc than you require, you will excrete the excess. Too much zinc can still cause damage in the time between intake and excretion, which is why an acceptable upper limit has been set.

Recommended intake
For each nutrient, the Health Council recommends the amount that healthy individuals require on a daily basis. These dietary standards are referred to as the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). Although it is very difficult to get too much zinc, there is an acceptable upper limit that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has set for safe intake.

Recommended daily allowance for zinc (milligrams/day)

Age Men Women*
6 to 11 months 5 5
1 to 2 years 5 5
2 to 5 years 6 6
6 to 9 years 7 7
9 to 13 years 11 8
14 to 17 years 12 9
18 to 50 years 9 7
50 to 70 years 9 7
>70 years 9 7

Pregnant women require 9 milligrams per day, lactating women 11 milligrams.

Acceptable limit for zinc (milligrams/day)

Age Male/female
1 to 3 years 7
4 to 6 years 10
7 to 10 years 13
11 to 14 years 18
15 to 17 years 22
>18 years 25

(Dutch Health Council, 2018
(Vitamin Info, 2020), (Dutch Nutrition Centre, 2020)

What to look out for when buying hair vitamins

It is highly advisable to take a critical look at the label of a supplement before purchasing it. In addition, more expensive does not necessarily mean better: vitamin B8 is and remains vitamin B8. One reason for price differences may be that different raw materials or additives are used. Additionally, the range of name brands is often greater than that of generic brands (Dutch Consumers’ Association, 2019).

Different brands

The most well-known brands in the Netherlands for hair vitamins are Sweet Bunny Hare, Oasis and Yummygums. All three are vegan vitamins in gummy form, making taking your vitamins easy and tasty. Yummygums not only has a hair vitamin (Yummygums Hair & Beauty), but also a multivitamin (Yummygums Multi Plus) and a multivitamin for pregnant women will soon follow (Yummygums Mommy).

Medical advice

If you eat a healthy and varied diet according to the ‘Dutch Schijf van Vijf’, you will receive sufficient vitamin intake. Unfortunately, that sounds a lot simpler than it is. If you want to check how many vitamins you are consuming, use the online food diary ‘Mijn Eetmeter’ [My Food Monitor] available via My Voedingscentrum. It is also important to stick to the RDA or RI indicated on the packaging. If no RDI has been set, use the RDI as a guideline, not as a target. Furthermore, it is important not to exceed the acceptable upper limit (Vitamin Information Bureau, 2019). Consult your doctor in the event of pregnancy, use of medication or if you have a medical condition before using vitamin supplements.

Bibliography

Consumentenbond. (2019). Veelgestelde vragen over voedingssupplementen. (R. Rolvink, Redacteur) Opgeroepen op 1 21, 2020, van Consumentenbond: https://www.consumentenbond.nl/vitamines-en-voedingssupplementen/veelgestelde-vragen-over-voedingssupplementen

De Nederlandse Haarstichting. (2020) Haaruitval vitamine. Opgeroepen op 3 10, 2020, van De Nederlandse Haarstichting: https://www.haarstichting.nl/actueel/nieuws/haaruitval-vitamine

Eigen kracht. (2019). Vitamine- en mineralensupplementen. Opgeroepen op 1 20, 2020, van Eigen kracht: https://www.eigenkracht.nl/supplementen/specifieke-supplementen/vitaminen-en-mineralen

Gezondheidsraad. (2018, 9 18). Voedingsnormen voor vitamines en mineralen voor volwassenen. Opgeroepen op 1 21, 2020, van Gezondheidsraad: https://www.gezondheidsraad.nl/documenten/adviezen/2018/09/18/gezondheidsraad-herziet-voedingsnormen-voor-volwassenen

Gezondheidsraad. (2018, 9 18). Voedingsnormen voor vitamines en mineralen voor volwassenen. Opgeroepen op 1 21, 2020, van Gezondheidsraad: https://www.gezondheidsraad.nl/documenten/adviezen/2018/09/18/gezondheidsraad-herziet-voedingsnormen-voor-volwassenen

Vitamine Info. (2020). Dit doen vitamines voor je haar. Opgeroepen op 1 17, 2020, van Vitamine Info: https://www.vitamine-info.nl/nieuwsartikel/article/dit-doen-vitamines-voor-je-haar-150/

Vitamine Info. (2020). Koper. Opgeroepen op 1 20, 2020, van Vitamine Info: https://www.vitamine-info.nl/alle-vitamines-en-mineralen-op-een-rij/koper/

Vitamine Info. (2020). Seleen. Opgeroepen op 1 20, 2020, van Vitamine Info: https://www.vitamine-info.nl/alle-vitamines-en-mineralen-op-een-rij/seleen/?L=0

Vitamine Info. (2020). Vitamine B8. Opgeroepen op 1 20, 2020, van Vitamine Info: https://www.vitamine-info.nl/alle-vitamines-en-mineralen-op-een-rij/vitamine-b8/

Vitamine Info. (2020). Zink. Opgeroepen op 1 20, 2020, van Vitamine Info: https://www.vitamine-info.nl/alle-vitamines-en-mineralen-op-een-rij/zink/

Vitamine Informatie Bureau. (2019). Op het etiket. Opgeroepen op 11 15, 2019, van Vitamine info: https://www.vitamine-info.nl/supplementen/op-het-etiket/

Voedingscentrum. (2020). Biotine (vitamine B8). Opgeroepen op 1 20, 2020, van Voedingscentrum: https://www.voedingscentrum.nl/encyclopedie/biotine.aspx

Voedingscentrum. (2020). Koper. Opgeroepen op 1 20, 2020, van Voedingscentrum: https://www.voedingscentrum.nl/encyclopedie/koper.aspx

Voedingscentrum. (2020). Selenium (seleen). Opgeroepen op 1 20, 2020, van Voedingscentrum: https://www.voedingscentrum.nl/encyclopedie/seleen.aspx

Voedingscentrum. (2020). Zink. Opgeroepen op 1 20, 2020, van Voedingscentrum: https://www.voedingscentrum.nl/encyclopedie/zink.aspx

Women’s Health. (2016, 6 5). Q&A: Hoeveel haaruitval is normaal? Opgeroepen op 1 17, 2020, van Women’s Health: https://www.womenshealthmag.com/nl/gezondheid/a26915977/hoe-veel-haaruitval-is-normaal/

Yummygums. (2020). Producten. Opgeroepen op 1 21, 2020, van Yummygums: https://www.yummygums.com/producten/

Yummygums. (2020). Yummygums Hair & Beauty. Opgeroepen op 1 21, 2020, van Yummygums: https://www.yummygums.com/producten/hair-beauty/