Hair Care

Health Supplements for Hair Growth

Growth supplements for longer, healthier, more luscious hair...but do they work? 

Credits: Averie Woodard at
Pearl Doan
Edited By:
Raja Sivamani , MD, MS, AP

From shampoo commercials to models, lusciously thick hair has always been seen as a sign of good health and beauty. However, thick hair is much harder to achieve than simply purchasing a shampoo.

Many advertisements focus on the key to thick hair as starting from the inside out. While supplements may boost healthier, longer hair, it’s important to see which hair growth supplements truly are helpful to achieve those luscious locks.


Biotin and Vitamin D: Treating Nutrient Deficiencies

Biotin is a common hair supplement advertised in several popular hair growth products, such as SugarBearHair vitamins. However, recent studies have shown that biotin is useful but limited in promoting hair growth among healthy individuals.[1] Rather, these hair pills may only be helpful in boosting healthy hair among individuals with biotin deficiencies themselves, which can show through both limp, thin hair and brittle nails.

Often, we associate Vitamin D with the sun, but this vitamin can also promote hair growth. One study showed that patients who have alopecia areata, or sudden hair loss, have significant deficiencies in this vitamin.[2] Furthermore, the Vitamin D receptor in the hair has been observed to play a role in stimulating hair follicle growth.[3] With this, Vitamin D may play an important role in cycling hair growth for those lacking this essential vitamin. For those lacking these nutrients, both biotin and Vitamin D can be helpful vitamins that promote hair growth.


What if There is No Nutrient Deficiency?


Horsetail, a type of plant used in folk medicine, has been observed to have smoothening and hair growth stimulating effects for patients suffering from sudden hair loss. In fact, this plant is widely used in conditioners for not only its beneficial impact on hair growth but also because of its smoothing effect on hair texture. Horsetail is also known to be an anti-dandruff agent and is usually sold as an extract. With this, horsetail is widely available as a nail supplement and is frequently used for hair growth, though further research must be conducted to examine why horsetail can stimulate hair growth.

Pumpkin seed oil

Alongside the horsetail plant, pumpkin seed oil may also be a promising way to stimulate hair growth. Specifically, pumpkin seed oil can block certain hormones from initiating hair loss in individuals. This effect was found in one study in which the regular consumption of pumpkin seed oil supplements among men with androgenetic alopecia resulted in more hair and less alopecia.[4] Therefore, pumpkin seed oil may be a natural way to not only stop hair loss but further stimulate hair growth. However, with only one study present, there need to be more studies done in the future.

Silicon: orthosilicic acid

Another potential hair growth supplement is silicon, and specifically its derivative: orthosilicic acid. Silicon supplements themselves have been found to improve skin elasticity and produce stronger, less brittle nails.[5] Furthermore, these supplements are also labeled as hair growth pills. In one study, volunteers who consumed silicon pills had decreased hair loss and brighter hair.[6] Silicon is also observed to improve the elasticity of hair as this was observed in another study in which the consumption of silicon supplements resulted in thicker hair that was less prone to breakage.[7] While supplementation with orthosilicic acid may strengthen hair, there is little evidence to suggest that it improves alopecia or stimulates hair growth.

Thus far, the consumption of silicon supplements was shown to be safe in one study of 50 women.[5]

For those looking for healthier, longer hair, the start of one’s hair journey could begin with supplements. With the wide range of hair growth supplements on the market, the pursuit of healthy, fuller, and stronger hair may be more feasible than one may think.

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  1. Patel DP, Swink SM, Castelo-Soccio L. A Review of the Use of Biotin for Hair Loss. Skin Appendage Disord.2017;3(3):166-169; PMID: 28879195 Link to research.
  2. Bhat YJ, Latif I, Malik R, et al. Vitamin D Level in Alopecia Areata. Indian J Dermatol.2017;62(4):407-410; PMID: 28794553 Link to research.
  3. Amor KT, Rashid RM, Mirmirani P. Does D matter? The role of vitamin D in hair disorders and hair follicle cycling. Dermatol Online J.2010;16(2):3; PMID: 20178699 Link to research.
  4. Cho YH, Lee SY, Jeong DW, et al. Effect of pumpkin seed oil on hair growth in men with androgenetic alopecia: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.2014;2014:549721; PMID: 24864154 Link to research.
  5. Barel A, Calomme M, Timchenko A, et al. Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on skin, nails and hair in women with photodamaged skin. Arch Dermatol Res.2005;297(4):147-153; PMID: 16205932 Link to research.
  6. Araujo LA, Addor F, Campos PM. Use of silicon for skin and hair care: an approach of chemical forms available and efficacy. An Bras Dermatol.2016;91(3):331-335; PMID: 27438201 Link to research.
  7. Wickett RR, Kossmann E, Barel A, et al. Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on hair tensile strength and morphology in women with fine hair. Arch Dermatol Res.2007;299(10):499-505; PMID: 17960402 Link to research.