Folic acid is the synthetic version of vitamin B9, also known as folate. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, both folate and folic acid are essential to fetal development, as they prevent spinal/neurological birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. The human body cannot synthesize vitamin B9 on its own, so dietary folates must be supplied for a normal functioning of the body.
How does folic acid contribute to your health?
Your body needs folate to synthesize and repair DNA, and therefore produce new, healthy cells. Red blood cells couldn’t work properly without folate, which would make it impossible for nutrients to reach your organs and systems through the bloodstream, causing severe anaemia. Folate also aids fast division and growth, which is exactly the type of division involved in wound healing, pregnancy and infancy. Folate deficiency leads to serious health issues like neurological defects in newborns, cognitive decline, anaemia, nerve damage, numbness, headaches and behavioural disorders.
How is folic acid involved in hair growth?
First and foremost, healthy hair follicles are properly nourished with plenty of vitamins and minerals to support their development – vitamin B9 is one of the most important of these nutrients. Any type of nutrient deficiency will reflect in your hair health, from thinning and brittleness to moderate hair loss and even alopecia. However, folate deficiency is rarely the ONLY cause of hair loss, so you are strongly advised to see a doctor and look into all possible causes before drawing any conclusions.
Folic acid generally helps all tissues grow (it is involved in DNA synthesis/repair), so getting enough dietary folate stimulates hair growth in the long run. According to a study conducted by the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph, Canada, folic acid supplement therapy helped a three-week old male calf recover from progressive hair loss in less than two months. Although no such outstanding effects have been reported in humans (different genetic make-up and causes of hair loss), this study supports the important contribution of folic acid to hair health and cell regeneration in vertebrates.
How can you use it to grow hair?
There is no magical cure for hair loss, as this process requires a lot of patience and diet/lifestyle adjustments. Never prescribe yourself any supplements – this is something you and your doctor will agree to once you’ve assessed your blood tests and figured out what’s causing hair loss in your particular situation. In the meantime, you may include more leafy vegetables in your diet, as they are the main natural source of folate (lat. “folium” – leaf), and see the difference!