I was in the store a few weeks ago, when a 4 foot 8 inch, sixteen year old girl walked up next to me in the vitamin section and grabbed herself prenatal vitamins. I simply gave her a smile and continued selecting my own daily multivitamin when she laughed and said “I’m not pregnant, they are for my hair.”
Uh, what? I asked her what would make her believe that a prenatal vitamin would help her hair and she replied “Lauren Conrad does it, so I figured I should to.” As much as I admire Conrad’s beautiful tresses, her theory was nothing but an idolization of a superstar. When I went home and told my roommate about my awkward encounter with a delusional 16 year old, she said “Oh yeah! Everyone is taking prenatal vitamins for their hair. It makes it grow-like-super fast. Shouldn’t you know that since you love hair so much?” Okay, seriously? What is with the prenatal vitamin hype!? Wanting to indulge myself in the facts about these vitamins, I did a little research.
First of all, what are prenatal vitamins?
Prenatal vitamins are composed of a series of nutrients, designed specifically to ensure nutritional gaps in a woman’s health are filled. The three main ingredients are Folic acid, to prevent neural tube birth defects; Iron, to help blood carry oxygen; and Calcium, to protect bone density.
After seeing that no ingredient in prenatal vitamins is specifically aiming at providing a pregnant woman with luscious locks for good hair in the delivery room, I looked into the science behind a pregnant woman’s hair. Apparently, as many of you who have children may already know, when you are pregnant your hair grows twice as fast as when not in term. Many women have been blindly accounting this to the prenatal vitamins they take. However, studies show that the excess of estrogen produced during pregnancy locks hair in the growth phase.
What does that mean?
The hair growth cycle has three phases. Stage one is referred to by the science world as anagen (growing), stage two catagen (resting) and stage three telogen (shedding). 90% of your hair will always be in the growing phase, and 10% shedding or resting. Each hair follicle will be in the growth phase for 3 to 6 years before entering into the resting phase for 30-90 days and then the shedding phase for 14-21 days. (Below is picture of what each state would look like!)
Essentially, all this information means that during pregnancy, the 90% of hair in the growth phase is stuck completely, even if it was ready to enter the resting phase. The rest of hair will continue the process, entering into the growth phase within 4 months and locking so that literally the entire head of hair is in the growing process. Thus the fuller, thicker, longer hair growth. Make sense?
The Sad Truth
As great as it would be for a magical hair growth pill to be sitting in your baby room, this information doesn’t check out with scientists. You can not duplicate the pregnancy stage estrogen boost by taking a multivitamin. However, if you are vitamin deficient, taking a multivitamin can increase the health of your hair. Why? Healthy body means healthy hair.