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The hard truth about hair growth supplements

If you ever bought a hair growth vitamin before – we need to talk. And no, we’re not here to “debunk” anything, or target any specific hair vitamin brands – but simply explain how you need to manage the hair health basics before reaching to the next bottle of biotin.

Watch the video for an overview:

The hard truth is that your body will not divert the nutrients and vitamins you’re taking for your hair growth, if it constantly needs to defend itself from the stress factors. Our bodies do not consider hair growth as a life-saving function, so it tends to “pause” it during extended periods of stress. So question becomes is how do you manage your stress levels with supplementation, so that the nutrition from your food and hair supplements actually reaches your hair follicles?

Strong nerves equals strong hair

We wrote extensively about telogen effluvium – stress related hair loss here. However we would like to divert your attention to two key hair vitamins that are not commonly advertised as hair growth supplements per se. Yet, they support your body through periods of stress, enabling it to continue growing healthy hair, even though you are amidst the moments in which you want to pull your hair out.

Back when your ancestors lived in caves, adrenal glands, located on top of your kidneys released cortisol and adrenaline for the purpose to prepare and tackle a dangerous situation, for example: facing a predator. A spike in cortisol can shut down digestive, reproductive systems and increase (short-term) immune system in order to either make them ready to fight a predator, or run very fast from it, commonly known as “fight or flight” response.

Although the circumstances of our living have evolved, and the closest predator is the neighbour’s cat, our biology did not evolve just as fast. What changed is our perception of a life-threatening circumstance. The next notification on your phone may signal that something happened to a loved one, or you received a nasty email from a client or your manager – body still recognises this as a threat and therefore triggers the same old (millennia-old!) pathways to ensure that you can withstand the circumstance. And the issue isn’t that it occurs, but that this onslaught of perceived dangers doesn’t terminate as swiftly as the escape from a predator used to be. Stressful projects at work can last for weeks and months, not mere hours if you were running away from a tiger. That’s why we can’t sleep during stressful periods – our bodies are literally keeping us awake and alert disrupting an essential restorative function of your body.

Hair growth is not “life-important”

Functions that are considered life-supporting such as – muscular-skeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory system are prioritised in periods of stress, and this is where your body focuses its full attention – and nutrients it consumes. Your biology does not consider hair growth as one of those functions, so it tends to skimp away on the distribution of nutrients to scalp and hair follicles. This means that even though you are taking hair supplements, they might never reach your follicles, because your body just doesn’t consider them important.

So how do you divert those nutrients to where you want them to be?

Well, we are advocates for improving blood flow to scalp being one of the best ways to support your hair growth. But we are also advocates for holistic approach to hair growth – which always, always needs to come from within.

Vitamin D

In order to counteract negative effects of stress on your body and ensure that hair supplements deliver hair growth goals, you need to support your nervous system during stressful times. The first vitamin, vitamin D although usually comes “free” in the form of sunshine, but due to changes in lifestyle and our geographical locations – for example, winters in Northern Hemisphere with shorter days or busy lives of dwellers in the busy cities means that the only outdoor time they experience is nighttime with a drink at hand – is hard to come by.

Vitamin D is essential to support nervous system. Studies have shown that lack of vitamin D is responsible for development of certain nervous system and brain conditions, some studies also suggested that appropriate supplementation of vitamin D is linked to reducing anxiety in diabetic women suffering from anxiety. While 15-30 minutes of sun exposure 4-6 times a week with our face and palms of our hands exposed to direct sunlight is enough to top up our vitamin D stores, in the stressful times – this can be considered a luxury and you forget to go outside. Therefore supplementing a balanced diet with vitamin D3 is something to consider.

Magnesium

Magnesium is crucial in supporting your energy and metabolism, it contributes to production of proteins in your body, nervous tissue, neural response and production and release of hormones, amongst others. And while in affluent societies, severe magnesium deficiency is uncommon, alcohol consumption, high fat and / or calcium intakes and above all – stress, can induce magnesium deficiency. The mineral plays an essential role in nerve transmission and neuromuscular conduction, so to support your body during stressful periods, you need to ensure adequate magnesium supplementation.

There are different types of magnesium, some forms are more bioavailable than others. For example magnesium oxide isn’t soluble in water and as such your digestive tract doesn’t absorb it well. Magnesium citrate is a molecule of magnesium bound with citric acid, and is more readily absorbed by your body to top up magnesium deficiencies. Another, interesting type of magnesium – is magnesium glycinate, which is bound with an amino acid, glycine. In some studies it has shown calming effects to treat anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Generally, magnesium citrate is widely available in most pharmacies and drugstore – so could be an easy solution to support your nervous system during the stressful periods to ensure that your growth does not suffer as you move through difficult part of your life.

Conclusion

While in this article we took a more convoluted route to hair growth, it is crucially important to understand your current life situation before reaching out to any specific hair growth supplements. You may be wasting your time and your money by taking expensive hair growth vitamins and seeing little, if any results. Your body simply diverts those to support itself against stress, “forgetting” about your hair follicles – so it is up to you to support your body. It also helps to do a full blood check and have a conversation with your doctor to understand any deficiencies you may have and treat the (hair)root cause instead. Note, however that deficiency of magnesium shows up later in blood markers, prior to that, your body would already be drawing it from your bones – so taking an extra precautionary steps is something for you to consider!

While you tackle the stress, you may want to consider some topical solutions that specifically targets hair growth right where it starts, your hair follicles. Read more here.

Who we are:

The Hair Fuel is an all-natural hair growth mask created by Laura Sagen, who embarked on her journey of hair regrowth as she lost a third of her hair after one horrendous visit to a hairdresser. Started off as tinkering in the kitchen, she developed the formulation rooted in science of scalp blood flow which she has used for years, before a light bulb moment to offer it to other people. This is what has become The Hair Fuel

We work closely with our lab and manufacturers to ensure the highest quality product. But we know that a product alone is never enough – so we hold your hand throughout your own, unique hair growth journey. Our flagship product – The Hair Fuel mask – coupled with our advice, digital tools and on-going web / chat support are there to help you grow the best hair you can. It’s a big claim – but we’re unafraid to make it. Check out our starter bundles >>

Sources:

Role of the vitamin D receptor in hair follicle biology, The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, (1)

Vitamin D and the nervous system, PubMed, (2)

New clues about vitamin D functions in the nervous system, (3)

Stress and vitamin D: Altered vitamin D metabolism in both the hippocampus and myocardium of chronic unpredictable mild stress exposed rats (4)

Effect of Vitamin D Supplement on Mood Status and Inflammation in Vitamin D Deficient Type 2 Diabetic Women with Anxiety: A Randomized Clinical Trial (5)

Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment, Medical Hypotheses (6)

The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review, (7)

Magnesium in Central Nervous System (8)

Consequences of magnesium deficiency on the enhancement of stress reactions; preventive and therapeutic implications (a review) (9)

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