Beta-Carotene for Hair Growth
Disclaimer: This content has been produced purely for informational and educational purposes only and is never intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical guidelines including diagnosis, advice, and treatment.
There has been a growing interest in the use of beta-carotene for hair growth. Beta-carotene is one of the most studied provitamin A that gets converted into vitamin A inside the body when ingested. Vitamin A plays an important role in healthy hair growth. It helps keep hair hydrated and prevent hair breakage, all the while making it thicker and stronger. But too much vitamin A can be a cause of hair loss itself. Keep reading to learn more.
In this article, we’ll be discussing the effects of using beta-carotene for hair growth including both potential benefits as well as risks. But before getting into how beta-carotene can impact hair growth, first, we’ll need to learn the basics of beta-carotene a little bit more. So, let’s get started.
Table of contents
- What is beta-carotene?
- Benefits of beta-carotene for hair growth
- How to get enough beta-carotene
- Precautions and side effects
- Final words
What is beta-carotene?
Beta-carotene is a plant pigment that gives carrots and other vegetables vibrant orange to red colors. In fact, the name beta-carotene is derived from the Latin word for carrots. In its chemical structure, it’s a hydrocarbon with the formula of C40H56.
Beta-carotene is one of the most popular as well as most studied carotenoids, a large class of organic pigments comprising two major classifications - carotenes such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and lycopene and xanthophylls such as lutein and zeaxanthin. All carotenoids have been found to have noticeable antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-strengthening functions.
When ingested, only a few carotenoids can be transformed into vitamin A. They are often called provitamin A. Beta-carotene is considered the most efficient provitamin A. On reaching the digestive tract (small intestine), beta-carotene is broken down by bile salts and fats and gets transformed into retinol (preformed vitamin A), which plays many crucial roles in the body, ranging from hair health to eye health to skin health.
Benefits of beta-carotene for hair growth
Beta-carotene can help hair growth in many different ways. It serves as both - a carotenoid antioxidant and a provitamin A. Once consumed, some portions are converted into retinol, and some remain as antioxidants with strong anti-inflammatory effects and some immune functions. It has some direct as well as indirect impacts on hair health.
Let’s take a look at some important but less-known ways how beta-carotene can help hair growth:
Beta-carotene helps protect hair and scalp from sun damage
Excess exposure to the sun may increase free radical activity and induce inflammation in the hair follicles and skin tissues of the scalp. This may hamper normal hair growth. With its potent antioxidant effects, beta-carotene can help protect hair follicles and the scalp skin tissues from free radical damage caused by UV radiation of the sun and thereby can help prevent hair loss induced by UV radiation and free radicals.
Beta-carotene may help lower the overproduction of sebum
The overproduction of sebum is an important factor often found associated with androgenetic alopecia (AGA), especially those implicated with microbial overgrowth. Retinol has the capacity to control the secretion of sebum in the sebaceous gland. As one of the most prevalent provitamins A, beta-carotene can help retinol to reach sufficiency levels that can normalize sebum production. This way beta-carotene can help reduce sebum production as well as reduce one of the major risks of AGA.
Beta-carotene may help in the activation of stem cells
Activation of stem cells is a vital bodily process that is critical for normal hair growth. An adequate level of retinol is essential for the activation of stem cells. Lack of retinol or retinol insufficiency may lead to stem cell dysfunction, which is a leading cause of impaired hair growth. Beta-carotene can help supply enough retinol needed in the activation of stem cells and also can help address stem cell dysfunction if any.
Beta-carotene reduces the risk of microbial overgrowth in hair follicles
Vitamin A or retinol has incredible antimicrobial properties. It plays an important role in making antimicrobial peptides, which is vital for the body’s natural defense mechanism against the overgrowth of microbes. Since the overgrowth of microbes at the follicular openings has been linked to androgenetic alopecia (AGA), retinol can greatly help reduce the risks of AGA through its antimicrobial actions.
Therefore, by supplying enough retinol, beta-carotene favorably impacts the body’s natural antimicrobial defense and reduces the risk of developing microbial overgrowth implicated in androgenetic alopecia or AGA.
How to get enough beta-carotene
Beta-carotene is widely available in plant food sources, but it’s lacking in animal foods. However, it’s always best to get enough beta-carotene from the diet. A large number of orange, yellow, and red fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene. Let’s take a look at some of the most common sources of beta-carotene:
- Red palm
- Sweet potatoes
- Collard greens
In order to get enough beta-carotene, it’s important to consider adding these foods to the daily diet. But for people who find it difficult to add various colorful foods that contain beta-carotene to their diets on a regular basis, beta-carotene supplements might be a great option to consider.
Precautions and side effects
Beta-carotene doesn’t get stored in the body. Therefore, regular intake of beta-carotene is important to achieve and maintain a sufficiency level in the body.
Besides, while adequate vitamin A plays an important role in healthy hair growth, too much vitamin A may increase the risk of hair loss. This condition is called vitamin A toxicity or hypervitaminosis A. Moreover, hypervitaminosis A has been linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer and mortality.
Therefore, whenever you consider taking beta-carotene supplements, make sure you optimize your animal foods that directly contain preformed vitamin A or retinol such as cod liver oil, beef liver, and eggs.
However, it’s highly recommended to work with a professional healthcare provider prior to taking beta-carotene supplements to determine the best dose for your specific health condition.
The effects of taking beta-carotene for hair growth are impressive. It can help protect the scalp and hair follicles from sun damage, regulate the overproduction of sebum, and reduce the risk of microbial overgrowth at the follicular openings. But, ironically, too much vitamin A may lead to hair loss itself. However, it’s important to consult with a qualified naturopathic doctor prior to using any supplements.
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