We all know that hair growth is largely dependent on nutrition and getting the right vitamins. Everyone wants a healthy head of hair, and a proper diet with the right supplements is a great way to achieve it. One vitamin that doesn’t get enough love, though, is vitamin E.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that keeps us healthy in a wide variety of ways, many of which go far beyond the cosmetic. In this article, though, we’ll focus just on its effects on hair growth, and on using it safely.
It’s not difficult to get enough vitamin E through food, but there are other uses for the compound as well. If you’re primarily concerned with hair growth, then you may find yourself seeking out oils, shampoos, and other non-food sources.
You’ll want to avoid getting too much vitamin E as well as getting too little, but luckily there are some ways to incorporate extra vitamin E into your hair strategy without the risk. The best part is you likely already have some rich sources of vitamin E in your kitchen.
Why Vitamin E is Good for Hair Growth
One of vitamin E’s most beneficial effects is the way it enhances blood circulation. The compound is unusual in that it works almost as well when applied topically (rubbed into the skin) as orally (as a pill or other supplement).
Rubbing vitamin E oils or other products into the hair will open blood vessels near hair follicles, helping them get more oxygen and nutrients, and ultimately assisting them in more quickly producing strong, healthy hair.
Vitamin E has other benefits when applied directly to the hair or scalp. Add a few drops of the oil to your shampoo, and you’ll find your hair tangles less often. The enriched shampoo will also help your scalp stay hydrated and moisturized, and even prevent dandruff.
The Symptoms of Vitamin E Deficiency
Vitamin E is readily available in common foods, and so vitamin E deficiency is rare. It’s primarily caused not through poor diet, but by genetic disorders that interfere with the ability to absorb the nutrient. Non-genetic medical conditions, including cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, and others can also result in a deficiency.
The symptoms are dire and should be addressed by a doctor. They can include neurological problems like spinocerebellar ataxia, and a loss of spatial awareness. Low E levels can also degrade the immune response, making the victim more susceptible to other diseases. It can even cause hemolytic anemia, meaning red blood cell counts drop to dangerous levels.
Food Sources of Vitamin E
Fortunately, it’s very easy to get enough vitamin E in a typical diet. As a fat-soluble nutrient, the richest sources of vitamin E are oils and fats, including “healthy fats” like avocado. Here are some of the best ways to make sure you’re getting enough.
- Sunflower seeds contain a great deal of vitamin E, and can be tossed into salads or pasta. You can also cook with the oil, or drink a small amount as a natural supplement.
- Almonds are also a good source of the nutrient, as are other nuts, particularly cashews, peanuts, and Brazil nuts.
- Salmon is a true superfood and offers vitamin E, along with vitamin B, omegas, and a score of other health benefits.
- Tomatoes are not only rich in vitamin E, they also supply vitamin C, vitamin K, and biotin, all of which are great for your hair.
- Avocado is another superfood, proven to lower cholesterol as well as providing vitamin E. Fresh can be expensive (if delicious), but it’s also available as a cooking oil.
- Green leafy vegetables like spinach, mustard greens, and even broccoli are an excellent source of vitamin E, and should be a major component of anyone’s diet.
- Wheat germ, or the oil made from it, offers fiber, protein, and healthy carbs, as well as vitamins E, B, and others.
- Butter, far from a nutritionally devoid treat, is packed with vitamins. Used in moderation, it’s a good source of multiple vitamins, including E.
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Supplements and Hair Products with Vitamin E
Vitamin E supplements are available in pills and oils, from both synthetic and natural “whole food” sources.
For hair growth, the best way to use vitamin E is by applying it directly to the hair and scalp. Shampoos and other hair treatments with vitamin E are readily available, from major brands and from smaller organic suppliers.
As a DIY solution, it can be more cost-effective to purchase liquid gel-caps, pierce them with a needle, and mix the contents with your own mild shampoo, or even plant oil. Grapeseed oil works especially well for this, and is good for most types of hair on its own.
Applying vitamin E in this way increases blood flow to your hair follicles as described earlier, and also helps them repair damage and reduce inflammation.
Unless you’ve been advised by a doctor, it’s best to avoid ingesting vitamin E pills. The best way to use vitamin E for hair growth is as a topical treatment.
Is Too Much Vitamin E Possible?
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, which is why fatty foods like avocados and nuts are such a good source of it.
This also means that excess vitamin E we consume is stored in our fat cells, rather than expelled in urine like some other nutrients.
Consuming more vitamin E than is needed over a long period of time can result in hypervitaminosis E, also known as vitamin E toxicity. So much vitamin E is stored in the body that it begins to seep out of fat cells and have an adverse effect on health.
Vitamin E’s anticoagulant properties are what make it effective in increasing blood flow to the hair follicles, but when toxic levels are present, it can interfere with blood clotting, stopping cuts and scratches from healing.
It’s difficult to reach toxic levels of vitamin E through food alone, and nearly impossible when applying it topically. However, it’s best to consult a doctor before using any supplement.
Vitamin E Keeps Your Hair Growing Strong
Vitamin E is one of 5 essential vitamins for hair growth and strength. We need it to survive, but almost everyone gets plenty of it through food.
If hair health is your goal, then your best bet is to purchase or make a vitamin E topical treatment. As an oil, rub it into your hair, and leave it in until the next time you wash. As a shampoo, use it as you normally would.
Adding vitamin E to your hair care routine in this way will keep your follicles oxygenated, hydrated, and nourished. And that’s the best way to great hair.
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