Hair relies on the nutrients that you consume to grow strong and healthy. When someone lacks nutrients, a common treatment for that would be to try taking supplements. If you want your child to grow a healthy body with a strong and healthy head of hair, pediatricians might recommend supplements for them.
So how effective might supplements be on a child’s hair? It depends especially on your pediatrician’s assessment of your child’s health and nutrition. Since supplements are meant to help give your child the nutrients that they lack, being on the lookout for nutrients like zinc, iron, vitamin B, omega-3, vitamin A, biotin, and protein will be of benefit to your child’s overall health.
Do Children Need Hair Supplements?
Not all hair loss can be considered permanent hair loss. Shedding, for instance, is a natural form of hair loss in both children and adults.
Hair loss in children may have different causes than they do in adults. Where a common cause for adults to lose their hair is androgenetic alopecia, for children it can be infections, traction alopecia, or stress (telogen effluvium, another cause of gray hairs to appear). Treating such causes may require a visit to the pediatrician first.
An easily treatable cause are vitamin deficiencies. Healthy hair requires vitamins to stay strong and nourished. Loss of hair from a deficiency in vitamin intake can cause adverse effects not just in the hair but the body as well.
Nutrients are required by the body for better hair health. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to medical conditions that may damage hair thickness, and cause brittle hair. This is why a dietary supplement can have a positive effect on hair health.
Effects of Supplements on Children
On the whole, supplements for children are safe to consume. They’re the most accessible ways to give a child essential nutrients for their body.
Consuming too many vitamins can become toxic and has medical risks for the child. A study found that over-supplementation of vitamin E, for instance, can actually lead to further hair loss.
It’s also important to remember that supplements alone cannot bring significant changes to a child’s hair and physical health. Having a nutritious diet and hair care practice will help boost the effectiveness of any supplement that the child may be intaking.
There are hundreds of supplements available on the market for children. Without doing the adequate research into what the supplements can do, it may put your child at risk, like giving them an allergic reaction. Regardless of what medical journals may say, it would still be advisable to talk to a pediatrician prior to giving your child any supplement.
Nutrients to Consume
Hair follicles rely on multiple nutrients in order to grow strong and healthy. Nutritional deficiencies tend to be the easiest cause of damaged hair but also the easiest to treat. The effects of nutrient deficiency aren’t isolated to hair. Vitamin D deficiency, for instance, could negatively affect hair growth, but also lead to heart disease or high blood pressure.
A study has found that nutritional deficiencies can also lead to hair loss in adults, such as female pattern hair loss, or FPHL.
Having a balanced diet that includes hair vitamin-rich food is the most accessible treatment for hair loss. These nutrients are not only for children with hair loss but can be for adults experiencing androgenic alopecia as well.
Zinc is a mineral that protects the cells and DNA from any outside “invaders”, i.e. potentially harmful diseases or viruses. It’s for this reason that people tend to take zinc supplements as a way to protect themselves from the common cold.
Zinc also helps the body produce more protein, which has an effect on how strong hair grows. Another is sebum, which encourages the scalp to become an ideal environment for hair growth. Zinc can be found in foods such as sesame seeds, oysters, red meat, beans, fish, eggs, whole grains, and nuts.
Iron supplements may be an alternative to help your child achieve the right amount of iron in their body to grow healthy.
One of the nutrients that allow hair to become that way is iron. Without sufficient iron in the body, the chances for hair to grow weak and brittle increase. It not only plays an important role in hair growth but also in maintaining a healthy body. This is because iron also helps create hemoglobin. Without sufficient hemoglobin in the body, oxygen would not be able to spread to the organs that need it.
A lack of iron can easily be avoided by consuming various iron-rich foods such as red meats, lentils, spinach, leafy greens and other green vegetables.
3. Vitamin B
Vitamin B doesn’t only contribute to hair quality but also helps support healthy skin, as well as eyesight.
There are multiple vitamin B’s that contribute to hair growth. Vitamin B-9, for instance, or also known as folic acid, has an effect on the color of not just your hair but your skin and nail as well. That’s because they help in delivering nutrients to your hair follicles. It has a positive effect on circulation and encourages the growth of cells. Examples of some vitamin B-9 rich foods are beans, leafy greens, and citrus fruits.
Another is vitamin B12. It not only helps avoid hair loss but it has cognitive benefits as well such improving memory and mood. Sources of vitamin B-2 are low-fat yogurt, tuna, and even fortified breakfast cereals.
Our bodies need to constantly be hydrated in order to stay healthy and strong. The oils produced by Omega-3 fatty acids help keep the nails, skin, and the scalp both hydrated and healthy. It is also essential to maintaining the health of the cells in the body.
A study found that almost 90% of their participants who took omega-3 supplements noticed having thicker hair.
Omega-3 can be found in foods such as shellfish, avocado, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
5. Vitamin A
Vitamin A works with vitamin C in generating sebum. Sebum is an oil that is secreted by the sebaceous glands found just below the skin. Without sebum, the scalp will become too dry for healthy hair to grow. Another benefit of vitamin A is that it strengthens the hair to help it avoid being too brittle and susceptible to breaking.
Good sources of vitamin A include carrots, cheese, eggs, sweet potato, kale, mango, and papaya. Youmust be cautious with vitamin A intake, as a study found that too much vitamin A, as well as vitamin E, can lead to hair loss.
A fact sheet has linked biotin supplements to supporting the growth of healthy hair.
Biotin, and biotin supplements, helps produce keratin, which is a type of protein that positively affects not only hair growth but nail growth as well. It can also maintain black hair for those with naturally dark hair color.
A symptom of low biotin levels is excess hair fall or brittle fingernails.
Food sources of biotin are: salmon, cauliflower, spinach, banana, yeast, bread, sweet potatoes, raspberries, meat and organ meat, and dairy products.
Protein is important to help the child’s body to not only grow strong but to properly repair itself. Protein helps in the repairing and recovery of tissues that can be found in muscles and skin. Sources of protein are eggs, almonds, greek yogurt, lentils, pumpkin seeds, fish, and brussel sprouts to name a few.
Proteins in the hair, keratin and melanin, have been found to be boosted by vitamin B6.
When to Consult a Pediatrician
It’s advisable to consult with a pediatrician prior to taking any dietary supplement. They’ll help assess the child’s nutritional needs and guide you towards the right nutritional supplement for them.
Hair loss tends to be an indicator for a more serious underlying problem. Although it’s still natural for children to shed strands of hair everyday, if they begin losing more hair than usual, it would be wise to get them checked by a medical professional.
As a caregiver or parent, it’s important to observe the hair loss situation of the child. If they’re also experiencing bald spots, complain about itchiness in their scalp, or begin losing tufts of hair, it’s recommended to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
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