After the age of 50, you may notice a slew of changes in your body. Your skin feels less elastic, your muscles take longer to recover after a tough workout, and your sleep schedule is all out of whack. You might also notice changes in your hair—namely, that it’s thinner, more brittle, and less dense. Fortunately, there are things you can do to reverse course. Here, doctors tell us the five best vitamins and supplements that can strengthen hair after 50. Remember: before you start a new supplement routine, chat with your doctor to ensure the regimen is right for you.
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Biotin, or vitamin B7, is likely the first supplement that comes to mind when you think about hair care. The vitamin helps the body metabolize fats, carbs, and proteins, and a deficiency in it can lead to hair loss. “To strengthen hair, you may want a diet rich in biotin—and you will be able to get this nutrient from whole grains, almonds, and meat products,” says Anna Chacon, MD, dermatologist and writer at MyPsoriasisTeam. It can also be beneficial to take a supplement, she notes. (Talk to your doctor to see if that’s the case for you.)
In addition, there are plenty of shampoos made with biotin, and they can help with hair follicle regeneration.
This is a vitamin you’ll want to pay extra attention to after the age of 50. “Women of any age can be deficient in vitamin B12, but certain groups are more vulnerable, including menopausal and postmenopausal women,” says Don Grant, MD, clinical lead at online pharmacy The Independent Pharmacy. “Hormonal imbalances during these cycles can cause symptoms such as heavy bleeding and, as a result, a significant decrease in B12—an essential vitamin for natural hair growth,” he explains.
Signs of a B12 deficiency include thinning hair, shedding, or stunted hair growth. “Vitamin B12 supplements help to produce oxygen-rich red blood cells, which transport oxygen to your hair follicles,” says Grant. “It is a biological process that promotes hair growth by producing new hair cells.” The supplement can be found easily at most drug stores and pharmacies.
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Your risk of vitamin C deficiency also increases as you age. “Swollen joints, spoon-shaped fingernails, and hair loss are just some of the symptoms that can manifest when your body isn’t receiving enough of the vitamin,” says Grant. “Vitamin C works within your body to produce collagen, which is required to support the growth of new strands as well as the health of existing hair growth.” Eat vitamin C-rich foods, such as citrus, cruciferous vegetables, and bell peppers, or consider a supplement.
Iron helps boost circulation and move oxygen to the body’s cells more efficiently. When you have a deficiency, the health of those cells, including the ones that stimulate hair growth (as well as nail growth), suffers. “An iron supplement may be worth adding to the daily routine if you are at risk of iron deficiency,” says Chacon. A simple blood test can tell you if this is something you should look into.
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According to Michael May, MD, medical director at Wimpole Clinic, vitamin D is essential in cell regulation and the immune system; if you have a deficiency, it could result in hair loss. The easiest way to increase your vitamin D consumption is through sunlight exposure (with SPF, of course). “Oily fish, red meat, and egg yolks are also high in vitamin D,” says May. “Those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet should learn to appreciate mushrooms, which are one of the only plant-based sources of vitamin D,” he adds.
Routinely taking vitamin D supplements can also help, adds Chacon. As always, check with your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen.