In this article, we examine some of the apparent benefits of vitamin E for hair and look at what evidence supports them. We also explain how people can increase their intake of vitamin E and consider whether or not there are any risks or side effects.
What can vitamin E do for hair?
Vitamin E has natural antioxidant effects that could help to maintain hair growth.
People have claimed that vitamin E offers several benefits for hair health, but many of these claims lack rigorous scientific evidence to back them up.
Most of the claims about vitamin E's role in hair health relate to its antioxidant properties. These focus on the idea that it can reduce cell damage and improve hair growth.
We investigate some of the most common claims below.
Could help support a healthy scalp
Vitamin E may help support a healthy scalp and hair as it has natural antioxidant effects that could assist with maintaining hair growth.
The vitamin's antioxidant properties could help reduce the amount of oxidative stress and free radicals that cause the hair follicle cells in a person's scalp to break down.
Help prevent hair loss
There is some limited evidence to support the claim that vitamin E can help prevent hair loss.
A small research study using a total of 38 volunteers experiencing hair loss examined the role that vitamin E played in preventing this loss. The study found that one of the components of vitamin E did improve the hair growth of the volunteers compared with a placebo.
More research is still necessary to determine how vitamin E affects hair loss.
According to some people, vitamin E can help replenish shine that the hair loses as a result of damage. Chemicals, heat, and other styling products can all damage the hair.
A person can restore shine using oils, which provide an extra layer of protection to the skin and hair. Many manufacturers will add vitamin E to their products to help restore shine.
There is limited research on how effective vitamin E is at making the hair shinier again.
How to use or get more vitamin E
Vitamin E is a naturally occurring nutrient that is in certain foods. People can also find it in supplements and other products.
People can use the following methods to increase their vitamin E intake or apply more of this vitamin to the hair and scalp:
Shampoo and other hair products
Some shampoos and conditioners are fortified with vitamin E.
Several shampoos and conditioners contain vitamin E. People can wash their hair with vitamin E-fortified shampoo and conditioner as they would with regular products.
It is essential to follow the directions on the information label when using special products and supplements.
Fortified shampoos containing vitamin E and other nutrients are available to purchase online. Again, it is worth noting that there is little evidence to support their effectiveness in boosting hair health.
Improve overall diet
Vitamin E is present in several types of food. These include:
- leafy greens
- nuts and seeds
- vegetable oil
- fortified breakfast cereals
To increase their intake of vitamin E, people can eat foods that are naturally rich in this vitamin. Some good food sources of vitamin E include:
- 1 tablespoon of wheat germ oil — 20.3 milligrams (mg)
- 1 ounce (oz) of dry roasted sunflower seeds — 7.4 mg
- 1 oz of dry roasted almonds — 6.8 mg
- 2 tablespoons of peanut butter — 2.9 mg
- half a cup of boiled spinach — 1.9 mg
- half a cup of boiled broccoli — 1.2 mg
Experts generally consider increasing the intake of foods that contain vitamin E to be safe.
Use of supplements
Vitamin E supplements are often available in specialty shops and the pharmacy section of various stores.
People taking vitamin E should always use it according to the directions. They should also take it with food as it is a fat-soluble vitamin.
Supplements contain a synthetic form of vitamin E. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), people need around 50 percent more synthetic vitamin E than naturally occurring vitamin E to get the same health benefits.
It is best to speak to a doctor before taking vitamin E supplements because too much vitamin E may be harmful.
Vitamin E oils
Certain oils contain an infusion of vitamin E. People should mix these oils with a carrier oil if the manufacturers have not already diluted them. This will help prevent skin irritation.
Although it is possible to apply vitamin E oils directly to the scalp, infused oils may not be the best choice for most people as they are expensive and can be difficult to use.
Are there any risks or side effects?
Vitamin E supplements may interfere with other medications.
Scientists are still studying the effects of vitamin E on health. According to the ODS, studies indicate that vitamin E is not effective in preventing or treating cancer. The organization also noted that vitamin E does not protect against heart disease.
Taking vitamin E supplements may be harmful to health as they can interfere with certain medications, including chemotherapies.
It is also possible for a person to take in too much vitamin E using supplements. Therefore, it is vital to follow the recommendation of the manufacturer or a doctor regarding dosage.
This is not to say that vitamin E is not an important nutrient for overall, skin, and hair health. Many health and beauty manufacturers use vitamin E in their cosmetic and hair products to help promote healthy skin and hair.
Though many believe it to be beneficial, the addition of vitamin E to dermatology products is not without its critics. For example, a 2016 study examined the role of vitamin E in dermatology and concluded that it is hard to determine the exact effects of vitamin E on skin and hair.
The authors believe that more research is necessary to confirm suitable doses and prove the overall effectiveness of vitamin E.
There is little doubt that vitamin E is an important nutrient that the body needs. A person can typically meet their daily requirement without a special diet or supplements.
Scientists need to carry out more research to determine what exactly vitamin E does for the hair.