Prenatal vitamins are supplements taken during pregnancy and before pregnancy. They’re similar to regular multivitamins. The difference however is that prenatal vitamins have been specially designed with vitamins and minerals needed by pregnant women – particularly: folic acid, iron, and calcium1.
There have been several claims as to how and why prenatal vitamins enhance hair growth in pregnant women. These claims are backed up with very little scientific evidence. In order to understand how prenatal vitamins enhance hair growth (if at all), it is important to first understand the chemistry of the hair and some of the biological changes a pregnant woman goes through.
Most people think hair is a living part of the body and hence they believe the health of the hair can be improved by applying conditioners to it. However, this is not true. The visible hair we see is made up of dead cells which have undergone keratinisation. Some vitamins and minerals responsible for hair growth and care include: vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6, B12, biotin, folic acid, zinc, and copper2.
During pregnancy, oxygen levels within a woman’s body increase in order to cater for the need of the baby. There is an increase in blood circulation which may in turn increase oxygen and nutrients going to the scalp and hair follicles. There is also an increase in estrogen levels which may boost hair growth. High estrogen levels result in a longer growth phase (anagen) of the hair. As a result of this, it is common for women to experience temporary hair loss after pregnancy, when estrogen levels return to normal.
When prenatal vitamins are taken, either as liquids or tablets, they mix with the blood and are transported to all parts of the body, including the hair follicle. This results in enhanced hair growth. However, for pregnant women, hair growth is mostly due to hormonal changes rather than consumption of prenatal vitamins.
- Modern Medical Network. Prenatal vitamins: A review of the literature on benefits and risks of various nutrient supplements, 2013.
- Nouritress. Hair Vitamins Ingredients. Available at: http://nouritress.com/HairVitaminsIngredients.pdf