That’s why it’s super important to give it that extra TLC. One of the best ways to get stronger, healthier and thicker hair is by following a healthy and balanced diet. If at all else fails, taking zinc supplements is a great addition to your routine to support your hair. Before we dive into understanding the role of zinc for hair, let’s take a look at some of the factors that affect general hair health.
Zinc is an essential mineral that our bodies need to keep healthy and fit (2,3,4,5). It helps our immune systems in staving off harmful bacteria and viruses. Our bodies also need zinc for hair maintenance, cell division, and cell growth. It plays a role in breaking down carbohydrates, as well as helping our sense of taste and smell. Our bodies need zinc during pregnancy, infancy, and other key phases of our physical and mental development. Studies have shown the importance of zinc for hair regrowth as the mineral's crucial role in DNA and RNA production (2). Zinc is also involved in important processes that affect hair follicles, keratinocytes, skin and melanocyte health and function. There’s no doubt that zinc can provide an assortment of health benefits!
Zinc is responsible for hair tissue growth, repair and maintenance. Our hair and skin are made of connective tissue which is constantly in a cycle of renewal as old cells are shed and new ones are grown to replace them. Zinc is especially important in building this new connective tissue, which is especially important in improving restorative cell functions in older adults.
Studies (3) have shown that a deficiency in zinc may lead to brittle hair and thinning of hair as its growth can be affected. Disruption in hair growth can cause weakened shafts, increased hair breakage and slow hair growth and development. In fact, poor hair health is a common symptom of zinc deficiency. The rule of thumb for great hair is to ensure that you consume enough zinc to reduce the risk of hair loss.
According to the Australian Government Health Guidelines, the number of zinc supplements to consume depends on a host of factors that stretch across gender and age groups. Adult men aged 19 years old and above are recommended to consume 14 mg/day, while women above the age of 19 years old require about 8 mg/day (2). For the most relevant zinc requirements, refer to the Australian guidelines (healthdirect.gov.au) and always consult with a health professional before supplementing.
While it is totally possible to obtain the daily recommended intake of zinc through an ordinary diet, some of us might find it difficult to achieve our daily quota. This can be due to certain nutritional restrictions like a vegan or vegetarian diet, which are commonly low in animal-based sources of zinc. For this reason, vitamin and mineral supplementation may be required to ensure you’re getting the amount of zinc needed (4).
Several studies have shown positive results (3) when it comes to taking zinc supplements for hair health. Zinc supports hair growth, strengthens hair follicles and increases thickness. Just as zinc deficiency can cause hair loss, so can excess levels of zinc. Taking zinc supplements in moderation with proper medical advice is key.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral that the body cannot produce on its own, meaning we have to obtain it through the food that we eat or zinc supplements. Generally, it is possible to get your daily requirement of zinc for healthy hair through a nutritious diet.
Here are some good sources of zinc (2):
The best zinc supplement is in the form of zinc citrate, which is a form that is most easily absorbed and utilised by the body (4). Pairing a proper diet and exercise, the long term effects of zinc can give you an extra edge in overall appearance and boost self-confidence!
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Learn more about other areas that zinc can help you with, plus other similar supplements that can benefit in different ways:
*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
1. Caludine Pierard-Franchimont. “Alterations in Hair Follicle Dynamics in Women.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. Published December 2014 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3884776/ . Accessed on 30 July 2021.
2. Health Direct. Zinc and your health. Last reviewed March 2021 on https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/zinc . Accessed on 30 July 2021.
3. H. M. Almohanna, A. A. Ahmed, J. P. Tsatalis, A. Tosti. “The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. Published December 2018 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6380979/ . Accessed on 19 July 2021.
4. National Health and Medical Research Council. Nutrient reference values for Australia and New Zealand. https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/zinc . Accessed on 3 August 2021.
5. MedlinePlus. Zinc in Diet. MedlinePlus. (n.d.). Published on https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002416.htm . Accessed on 19 July 2021.