Miracle Grow

Several supplements are touted to do wonders for tired tresses. Here’s what to try—and what to watch out for.

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| December 6th, 2012

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.

MORE: Beauty Supplements Roundup

Vitamin A
This antioxidant is often used in general hair, skin and nail supplement formulas because it is involved in skin regeneration, and is included in multivitamins for its benefits to vision and immunity. While it’s important to get enough vitamin A, too much can be dangerous. It is fat-soluble, which means that whatever your body doesn’t use each day builds up in your tissues. Going over the recommended daily intake can be harmful to your liver, cause fatigue and nausea as well as—ironically—hair loss. Make sure you read your vitamin labels and avoid taking multiple doses so you don’t over do it.

At the end of the day, no supplement can beat getting what you need the natural way. “Eating a healthy diet filled with wholesome foods is your best bet for gorgeous hair,” says Katherine Brooking, R.D., co-founder of appforhealth.com.

“Certain vitamins, like B6, B12 and folate, help with the creation of red blood cells, which in turn carry oxygen and nutrients to the body's cells and can help the scalp and growing hair,” she says. Iron (from lean beef, turkey, chicken, pork, shrimp, egg yolks and beans) helps those red blood cells do their job.

You can get your B12 from shellfish, salmon, and low-fat and fat-free dairy. Whole grains, lean protein, beans, nuts, lentils and leafy greens are great sources of vitamin B6.  For folate, go for lentils, soybeans and many leafy greens. And don’t forget to eat enough protein. This macronutrient is important for cell growth and also provides structure for the hair.

QUIZ: You Are What You Eat. Do You Eat Beautifully?

Just remember: You can’t replace a bad diet with supplements. So it’s better to use a combo approach. Focus on improving your diet and talk to your doctor or dermatologist about vitamins and supplements that may be right for you.

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