By Jacqueline Samaroo
Continuing our series on the benefits of specific vitamins for hair growth, here is our look at vitamin C. Read on to find out why getting sufficient vitamin C is a must for strong, healthy hair.
Along with looking at the ways in which vitamin C helps to boost hair growth, we’ll also cover how vitamin C deficiency affects your natural hair. Don’t panic! Being vitamin C deficient is very unlikely as there are plenty of delicious, readily-available vitamin C foods you can include in your diet. (Find a list of some of the best vitamin C foods at the end of this article.)
Check out the first three installments in the vitamins for hair growth series:
4 Benefits of Vitamin C for Hair Growth
We all already know vitamin C (aka ascorbic acid) helps us to ward off colds and flus. There is much more to this popular vitamin, however, than immune system support. From collagen production to antiaging protection, here are 4 wonderful benefits of vitamin C for hair growth.
Vitamin C helps to slow aging of hair.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant (as are vitamins A and E). Antioxidants protect cells from oxidative stress. This is the term used for the damage caused by free radicals in the body. Oxidative stress can damage cells and disrupt their growth pattern.
Antioxidants, like vitamin C, help to stop and repair the damage caused by free radicals. In so doing, they help to prevent premature aging of hair.
Vitamin C helps to strengthen your strands.
Collagen is the body’s most abundant protein. Our bodies make collagen using the proteins we eat, along with iron, zinc, and vitamin C. Collagen helps to make up the structure of many tissues in the body, including skin, nails, teeth, bones, cartilage, and hair.
Collagen helps to strengthen hair and plays a role in reducing and preventing thinning of hair.
Vitamin C contributes to healthy follicles.
Each cell in our bodies needs oxygen in order to function properly. That includes the cells in the hair follicle – the only growing part of each strand of hair. Like all other cells, the cells in the hair follicles get oxygen from the hemoglobin carried around by red blood cells. Iron is an essential part of hemoglobin.
What does all of that have to do with vitamin C? A lot, actually!
Vitamin C improves the absorption of iron in the intestines. This is why it is often advised that we eat iron-rich and vitamin C-rich foods together.
Vitamin C contributes to a healthy scalp.
Each of the benefits of vitamin C for hair is also a benefit for scalp health.
- Scalp is skin and so collagen is an important part of its structure.
- Scalp health is boosted by antioxidants that promote cellular repair and slow the aging of cells.
- The cells of the scalp need oxygen that is brought to them by the iron compound, hemoglobin, in the blood.
A healthy scalp is a major factor in healthy hair growth since that’s where your hair follicles and their growing cells are located. It is also where sebum is produced. Sebum is a natural, oily substance that lubricates and nourishes your scalp and strands.
Vitamin C plays several roles in promoting scalp health.
How Vitamin C Deficiency Affects Your Hair
As we’ve seen, vitamin C contributes in many direct ways to hair growth. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that being vitamin C deficient can result in a couple of very worrying hair conditions. Supplements are one option to boost your vitamin C and combat deficiency.
Stunted hair growth
Without sufficient vitamin C we experience a reduction in the amount of collagen the body makes. The shortage of collagen is responsible for the common symptoms of scurvy: bleeding gums and wounds that are slow to heal. It also affects hair growth with hair growing in a stunted, corkscrew fashion. Scurvy is the disease most associated with a lack of vitamin C.
Chronic hair loss
Long-term or persistent hair loss is another possible symptom of vitamin C deficiency. The lack of vitamin C causes hair to become dry and brittle. The strands break easily and are also easily damaged. The result is excessive shedding of hair.
Vitamin C Foods
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin found in many of the foods we eat. That’s a really good thing since our bodies can’t store vitamin C the way it stores vitamin E. Also, whereas our skin is able to produce vitamin D when exposed to direct sunlight, we can’t make our own vitamin C.
Vitamin C foods from animals
There really aren’t many good animal sources of vitamin C. Plus, for those foods from animals that do contain vitamin C, the amount is greatly reduced by cooking. Thankfully, that’s not a big deal since plants sources have us more than covered when it comes to daily vitamin C intake.
Vitamin C foods from plants
Oranges and blackcurrants tend to get all the hype when we talk about vitamin C sources. However, there are plenty of other fruits and vegetables that are also rich in vitamin C. Here are some of the best ones:
Guava, blackcurrants, kiwi, mango, honeydew melon, strawberries, cantaloupe, papaya, pineapple, raspberry, passion fruit, cranberry, blueberry, grape, and blueberries
Oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and lime
Bell peppers, broccoli, potato, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and tomato
Green leafy vegetables
Kale, spinach, and turnip greens
These vegetables deserve a bit of special attention, here. Why? Well, green leafy vegetables are not only rich in vitamin C but are also pretty good sources of iron. In case you skipped over that part above – our bodies need vitamin C to aid the absorption of iron.
Which of the vitamin C foods is your favorite? Let us know the Comments!