As an essential mineral, zinc is needed for hundreds of vital processes in the body. Zinc plays an important role in the function of major organs such as your brain and liver, but it’s also essential for DNA and RNA production, wound healing, proper immune system function and even keeping your blood pressure at a normal rate.
Zinc is also an essential nutrient for hair growth, and a severe zinc deficiency could lead to hair loss.
Let’s focus on how zinc plays a role in your hair wellness for strong, healthy hair growth.
Can Zinc Actually Help Hair Growth?
The short answer is a resounding yes! Research has repeatedly shown that zinc levels tend be lower in people who are experiencing a variety of hair loss conditions, like:
Even if you don’t have an acute hair loss condition or a severe zinc deficiency, not having enough zinc in your system over a long period of time takes a toll on hair health.
“Research has shown that, over time, a lack of zinc can cause thinning hair. It may also damage the remaining hair by weakening it and causing it to break,” added Dr. Zachary Okhah, medical doctor and founder of PH-1 Miami.
Why is zinc important to hair growth? As research advances we are developing a deeper understanding of the complex web of molecular and cellular processes involved in hair growth, along with zinc’s role in these processes.
“Zinc plays an essential role in the growth and repair of hair tissue along with keeping the oil glands around the follicles operating efficiently,” explained Trista Best, registered dietician with Balance One.
Along with biotin, another important vitamin for healthy hair growth, zinc is an essential ingredient in the protein our body uses to build hair. “Keratin is a protein that makes up the hair shaft and is also in your skin and nails. Zinc is required for your body to produce keratin, and even a slight deficiency may make your hair susceptible to dryness and breakage,” shared Chanté Wiegand, a licensed naturopathic doctor and Director of Research and Development at Pure Synergy.
But zinc doesn’t just support hair growth — it also supports your immune system. What’s the link between your immune system and healthy hair? Research shows that stem cells in your hair follicles work with the lymphatic system — which is part of the immune system — to support healthy hair growth.
If the immune system is impacted from stress or illness, stem cells aren’t able to support proper hair growth, which can lead to hair thinning and loss. This research shows how hair wellness is connected to many different things and not just the result of one thing. So while zinc itself is certainly important, it also influences the immune system which, in turn, affects hair health.
Scientists have long known that nutritional deficiencies can cause hair loss. Zinc concentrations have been shown to be lower in women with female pattern hair loss, which can be “halted or improved” simply by supplementing with zinc.
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Are Zinc Deficiencies Common?
According to the National Institutes of Health, zinc deficiency in the United States is rare, though some people are more likely to become deficient.
“Supplementation may be necessary to fill in gaps in diet, particularly for those with limited diets (like vegetarians and vegans) or increased needs (like pregnant women). Another at-risk population for low zinc levels are people with digestive disorders (like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis) where the absorption of zinc may be impaired,” shared Ms. Wiegand.
Aside from hair loss, signs that you might have a zinc deficiency include:
- Loss of appetite and weight
- Lack of energy
- Being prone to infection
- Problems with taste and smell
- Skin lesions
Is The Hair Loss Reversible?
The good news is that hair loss due to zinc can be reversed with supplementation, especially in cases of telogen effluvium, and can even create thicker hair shafts. The result? Stronger, healthier, thicker hair.
Natural Sources of Zinc
Since your body can’t make its own zinc, it’s important to be sure you’re getting enough through a healthy diet.
“We usually get the right amount of zinc from our diet. Meat and seafood, in particular, are good sources of zinc,” explained Dr. Ben Lynch, a naturopathic doctor and founder of Seeking Health.
You can also find vegan sources through natural foods like like leafy greens, lentils, whole grains, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, beans, cashews and chickpeas. It’s important to note that for vegetarians and vegans experts recommend that you up your intake by up to 50%, since the body has a harder time absorbing zinc from plant sources.
Supplementing With Zinc for Hair Wellness
How much zinc for hair growth you should take is really going to depend on whether or not you’re deficient in this mineral, which a blood test can determine. Your doc can let you know if supplementing with zinc would be beneficial for you and how much you should take.
“The easiest and most accessible way to address a deficiency is with zinc supplements. These are typically available over-the-counter, however it’s important to talk to your doctor first to confirm that a zinc deficiency is indeed the problem. There could be another underlying issue causing your hair loss or other symptoms, so always consult with a medical professional first,” Dr. Ben Lynch, a naturopathic doctor and founder of Seeking Health.
The recommended amounts of zinc are 11mg for males and 8mg for females a day, which can change with age. Health experts recommend that people supplement with no more than 40 mg per day. Our GRO+ Advanced Gummies combine 5mg of zinc per serving with a full complement of vitamins and minerals formulated to specifically to support hair growth, along with a full-spectrum hemp oil for superior nourishment and hair support.
Not everyone experiencing hair loss will be deficient in zinc, and while getting enough zinc for hair growth is essential, there is such a thing as too much. People who take too much zinc can see the opposite effect of what zinc is supposed to do—for example, excess zinc can actually suppress the immune system instead of helping it.
“It’s possible to have too much zinc in your body, often from taking too many supplements or kidney problems. This can cause stomach pains, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and headaches” advised Dr. Lynch.
Support Your Hair Wellness With Zinc
While zinc won’t be the sole missing link for every kind of hair loss, it’s an essential nutrient that can support hair wellness. At VEGAMOUR, we believe that true hair wellness requires a holistic approach to keep your gorgeous locks healthy and strong.
Lauren Wilson contributed to the reporting for this article.
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