Supplements for Hair Growth: What Works, What Doesn’t

Supplements for Hair Growth: What Works, What Doesn’t

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Maybe your hair has always been on the thin side. Or maybe it’s lost its fullness as you’ve gotten older. (Yes, hair ages, too. Sigh.) Either way, there’s only so much that backcombing and volumizers can do. More and more, women are turning to hair supplements to give their roots a boost from the inside. Some experts recommend certain vitamins and targeted oral treatments supported by promising research and positive real-world results.

Can you really get gorgeous hair by popping a pill? We looked at five popular options to see what works and what may leave you—and your hair—flat.


This Scandinavian supplement contains silica (horsetail plant extract), vitamin C and a fish protein, and is one of the only ones that Doris Day, M.D., a celebrity dermatologist in New York City, recommends to her patients. “I’ve observed it help with hair thickness and regrowth, especially around the temple area,” she says. You take it twice a day for the first three months and then once a day after that.

David Babaii, a celebrity hair stylist, is a fan of the product, too, and often recommends it to his high-profile clients. He first noticed that it worked after seeing promising results on a client. “Within a month, I noticed growth of new hair and after six months, her hair was even thicker than before she started taking it,” says Babaii, who started taking the supplements himself after a major surgery caused his hair to thin out.


Some research suggests that biotin (part of the B complex vitamins) may improve brittle nails and thinning hair. Many experts recommend a biotin supplement for hair health because it’s water-soluble (meaning your body excretes what it doesn’t need) and doesn’t have any side effects. In other words: Why not? “I have some very happy patients taking biotin right now,” says Day. “Even though the data is mixed, there’s at least enough to support trying it out.”


Vitamin D

The sunshine vitamin is important for a number of body functions (like aiding in calcium absorption), but experts are exploring the role it may play in hair health as well. “The vitamin D receptor helps regulate your hair cycle,” says Paradi Mirmirani, M.D., a dermatologist at the Permanente Medical Group in Vallejo, California, who recommends a supplement to her patients if their levels are low. (Your doc can give you a quick blood test to assess.) Experts aren’t sure exactly how the level of vitamin D in your body directly influences your hair growth, but many still think it’s a good idea to take vitamin D to ensure that your body has what it needs to sprout healthy, strong strands. “It’s very hard to get enough vitamin D through natural exposure if you apply sunscreen daily, so I often suggest a supplement just to be safe,” Day agrees.

Saw Palmetto Extract

This herbal remedy is processed from fruit of the American dwarf pine tree and may have some benefit for your hair, says Mirmirani. A small study found that 60 percent of patients who took a saw palmetto extract supplement said that their hair growth improved compared to just 10 percent of people taking a placebo.

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  • Vanessa Stim

    Nice article. You hit on a lot of the stuff my trichologist said. He doesnt recommend most vitamins including viviscal because of all the artifical stuff in it. He has me just drinking a lot of water and taking a more natural thing. So far it’s really helping. My nails are growing like crazy.