Whether you have experienced a tragic haircut, post partum hair loss, or androgenetic alopecia, I can’t be alone in wishing there must be something out there that would grow my hair overnight. If you're anything like me, scrolling through Instagram you might have caught the countless ads of influencers and celebrities with shining Rapunzel like locks proclaiming the amazing wonders of their hair growth supplements and gummies.
Gosh wouldn't that be great? Shining, long thick hair all by chewing an adorable fruity candy with my breakfast! That would be an easy thing to add to my morning routine! But before handing over your credit card and popping candy alongside your morning coffee it might be worth asking, do hair growth supplements and gummies work and should we be taking them?
What is in Hair Growth Gummies?
The supplement aisle at the supermarket and pharmacy feels like it's getting longer and longer. It can be beyond overwhelming, and you wouldn't be alone in wondering where on earth to even begin. I think we've got to ask what is actually in hair growth gummies and what do they claim to do?
Whilst there are a variety of brands, hair growth gummies usually contain a mixture of vitamins and minerals with links to hair, skin and nail health. Some in incredibly high doses. Vitamins A, C, E, Iron, Selenium Vitamin D and Biotin are usually featured alongside other filler products like rice flour and sugar to turn the concoction of vitamins into something yummy and chewy.
Hair growth pills, gummies and supplements are classed as dietary supplements, and as such regulating bodies class them as foods not drugs or medicine.
Let’s just soak that up for a minute. The hair growth pills you are buying online or at the supermarket are officially considered a food, not a pill that contains a therapeutic amount of anything useful. If it did, it would be classed as a medicine.
Can Biotin help my hair loss? Or make it worse?
Biotin is a bit of buzzword vitamin with some drastic claims around its benefits for hair loss. However “despite the public perception that biotin supplements are effective for hair thinning, there is little definitive data to truly support this,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Whilst it is true that biotin plays an important role in the health of your hair, most adults are getting enough biotin naturally and will therefore not benefit from taking a biotin supplement if they do not have a deficiency. The recommended daily intake of biotin is 30mg. One of the more popular hair vitamins contains 5,000 mcg of biotin (5mg), which is one sixth of the adult daily requirement. When taken twice a day as recommended you’re not even making it to half the daily requirement. So what about those who take it upon themselves therefore, to up their dose without any idea as to whether they have a deficiency?
Well, too much Biotin can prevent our body’s ability to absorb zinc and B5, as well as negatively impact laboratory testing in particular thyroid and cardiac functions. Leading to a potential misdiagnosis. Another reason to ensure that you’re under the care of a medical practitioner when considering the need for supplements of any kind.
Another popular hair growth gummy we checked contains 1.25mg biotin! That’s about 4% of the recommended daily intake, so that will do absolutely nothing, nada, zilch!
What do scientists say about Hair Supplements?
The lack of data on hair growth supplements and gummies in general should start to raise some red flags. In fact some of the few studies that can be found are often funded by the hair gummy brands themselves. One of the most important things for you to know is that the supplement market is not regulated or standardized.
In the USA the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have the authority to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed.
Therefore, manufacturers do not need to provide any proof of safety, efficacy, or quality prior to sale. The responsibility lies entirely with the brand producing the hair growth supplement or gummy. I don’t know about you, but alarm bells are ringing for me. If there is no standard in the strength, number or type of hair vitamin ingredients required for an effective outcome, can we actually be sure that any one of the many so-called hair growth supplements you could pick up off the shelf will do anything at all?
Hair growth gummies and other dietary supplements are not a new thing and in general are widely used. Reports indicate that approximately half of US adults report using dietary supplements. The global beauty supplement market was valued at $3.5 billion in 2016 and is projected to grow to $6.8 billion by the end of 2024. That is a huge amount of money that we’re spending on products that are unregulated, may not work, and frankly may be totally unnecessary to most people.
Will Hair Gummies or Supplements Help Hair Loss?
If you are experiencing an unusual amount of hair loss, one of the first suggestions you may get from friends is to check your vitamins. The common belief is that that taking certain vitamins can help slow or even stop hair loss altogether. Given that hair loss supplements and gummies are completely unregulated, with wildly variable ingredients, it is highly unlikely that any such pill will do anything to stop hair loss or regrow hair.
If your hair is falling due to a vitamin or mineral deficiency, then it is best to have that confirmed by a blood test and then replace just the vitamin or mineral in question, with a single ingredient pill designed and managed by a doctor to rectify a deficiency. Taking too much of any vitamin can also cause problems such as hair loss, so you want to be sure you are getting regular blood tests so you can stop taking the pill when it is no longer needed.
Most of us however, eat a balanced diet, so we get enough vitamins and minerals through our food. If you are concerned that a vitamin deficiency may be the cause of your hair loss, the first step should be a consult and blood test with your doctor, and not popping a hair growth gummy just in case.
It may be that hair gummies and supplements are simply viewed as something that “can’t hurt, but might help”. But if we stopped and looked into them a little bit more, we may find they could indeed hurt and won’t help.
Are hair gummies worth the money?
Frankly, no they’re not. More often than not you’re paying for fancy marketing and a mixture of vitamins and minerals in varied doses alongside sugar and fillers that may not help you at all. Whilst doctors can agree that specific supplements can help fill nutrient gaps if you have a diagnosed deficiency, they should not be viewed as replacements for a healthy diet.
Can hair gummies grow hair?
In short, no! There’s little to support the marketing claims that taking a hair growth gummy or hair growth supplement will actually grow your hair any faster than a normal balanced diet. Rather it can lead to over consumption of micronutrients.And remember, the supplement industry is not regulated by the FDA in the US, the MHRA in the UK or the TGA in Australia or any other regulating body anywhere in the world. Therefore companies can put whatever they like in these “foods” and make any claims their marketing department desires.
If I have hair loss should I take a hair growth supplement or gummy?
Your first stop should be a discussion with your doctor. They will be able to administer the right blood tests and come up with a plan going forward. However, if your hair loss is completely unrelated to diet and vitamin deficiencies, hair growth supplements and gummies are not going to fix it.
What are hair growth support multivitamins?
Just another name for a food. And generally a giant waste of money! Nothing in there that will actually grow your hair any faster or grow new hair. Even if the bottle claims to contain ingredients that support hair growth according to scientific evidence, you now know that isn’t the case. And they don’t have to have any actual scientific evidence, nor is there anyone regulating these products and their claims.
What else can I do if I’m experiencing hair loss?
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Risks of skin, hair and nail supplements: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7588165/