Zinc is kind of a miracle supplement. It’s more effective than vitamin C at boosting immunity and preventing viral infections. And, guess what? It can also help with hair growth. To find out all about this zinc’s hair benefits and how it promotes hair growth, we asked a doctor. Discover all the expert info you need on the mineral below!
What Are the Hair Benefits of Zinc?
Dr. Jennifer Martin-Biggers—VP, Scientific Affairs and Education at HUM Nutrition—knows her zinc. “Zinc is an essential mineral critical to many processes in the body. It is involved in almost every metabolic function in the body, including skin and hair health. Several human studies have shown that zinc supplementation actually produced significant reduction and improvement in acne,” she notes. Like its positive effects on the skin, zinc plays a major role in hair and hair growth. “Zinc’s role in hair health has been noted in studies of people with zinc deficiency,” Dr. Martin-Biggers explains.
“Hair loss is a common symptom of zinc deficiency, which may be caused by some medications, genetic conditions, and malabsorption problems, among others,” she says. “While severe deficiency is rare and tied to genetic disorders, more mild deficiency is more common in people with malabsorption conditions or if they do not consume sufficient zinc in their diets. Highly bioavailable zinc is found in seafood, eggs, and meat. Oysters are one of the highest sources of zinc in foods; they actually contain around 5.5mg per raw oyster, or, 50% of the recommended amount of zinc. It is also found in whole grains and legumes, but phytates in those actually reduce zinc absorption. Vegetarians and vegans may have higher zinc requirements due to this,” she continues.
How Does Zinc Work for Hair Growth?
Zinc plays a key role in factors that regulate hair growth, including inhibition of hair follicle regression and hair follicle recovery. “Normal hair growth and loss follow a cycle. After the hair grows, it enters a phase where it starts slowing growth and enters a resting phase. During that part of the process, hair follicles start to shrink and after a few months, follicles release the hair,” Dr. Martin-Biggers explains. “Zinc appears to help inhibit the follicles from shrinking that precedes hair loss, meaning you hang on to hair longer, helping it to be longer. It also helps with follicle health as new hairs grow in.”
Be patient. Even if it seems like nothing is changing, gaining inches takes time. “Hair grows at an average of ¼ to ½ inch per month, so it will take a few months to see any changes to growth. Incorporating dietary and lifestyle changes to support hair growth can help achieve growth. Stress, restrictive dieting, low protein intake, and excessive heat damage can all slow hair growth,” Dr. Martin-Biggers notes.
It is important to ensure you have a healthy diet as sufficient iron levels and vitamin C intake are also key for hair health, and too much vitamin A and selenium may contribute to hair loss. Freaking out about your length won’t help. “Don’t fret too much about losing hair, because it’s normal to lose 50 to 100 hairs a day,” Dr. Jennifer adds.