You’ve probably noticed vitamin E featured in cosmetics like skin care products and moisturizers. But are you tapping the goodness of vitamin E for your tresses? Whether you’re struggling with alopecia or sun damage to your hair or just looking for a way to maintain healthy, lustrous hair, this vitamin could be the missing link.
1. Vitamin E Has Antioxidant Properties
Every day, your body experiences stress from exposure to toxins and through free radicals produced as a byproduct of the breakdown of carbs, proteins, and fat for energy. Vitamin E is known to have antioxidant properties that can help counter this. Besides having greater implications for your health, including lowering risk of heart disease or cancer1, adequate vitamin E intake also keeps in check the aging process, which affects everything from your skin to your hair.
2. Fights Sun Damage By Protecting Cuticles
As an antioxidant, vitamin E can protect against oxidative stress. This includes sun damage from harsh ultraviolet rays that can cause your hair to become dry, brittle, and discolored. It may also result in frizzy hair with split ends or even hair thinning. This is due to degradation of both hair protein as well as hair pigment in the presence of these UV rays. If you can, however, protect the cuticles from the damage, you should be able to retain the strength and vitality of your hair.2 And that’s where applying vitamin E can be invaluable. You can use it in topical treatments like hair masks, moisturize and condition your hair with this protective oil, or consume it to protect your hair from within.
3. Helps Improve Hair Growth If You Have Alopecia
If you suffer from alopecia or hair loss, vitamin E could help improve your hair growth significantly. In one study, test subjects took 100 mg of mixed tocotrienols (antioxidants from vitamin E) in capsule form as a daily supplement. They saw an improvement in their symptoms at the end of an 8-month study period and a 34.5 percent increase in hair growth. The researchers attributed this to the reduced oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation in the scalp. These two factors have a role to play in the characteristic hair fall of alopecia and vitamin E’s antioxidant protection may have helped counter them.3
A word of caution here. Such high doses of vitamin E supplements must always be taken under the guidance of a doctor due to the risk of side effects from excessive intake. Dietary intake of foods rich in vitamin E, however, is a natural way to increase intake. You will experience the benefits although on a smaller scale.
4. Prevents Premature Graying Of Hair
Certain vitamins play a central role in aging and graying of hair. And vitamin E is one of them, along with vitamin C. These vitamins are part of the body’s natural defense system against factors that cause aging and graying of hair as well as a drop in hair production as you grow older.4 Which means consuming them in recommended levels can slow down the damage and accelerated aging due to our routine exposure to pollutants and toxins. Think of vitamin E as a nutrient shield for your hair!5
5. Boosts Circulation To Your Scalp To Help Hair Growth
Vitamin E is known to help improve blood circulation by preventing oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. LDL cholesterol has been associated with poor relaxation of your blood vessels, which in turn means the blood supply to various parts of the body is impaired. By taking vitamin E if you have higher than normal levels of cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) or are a smoker, you can restore the ability of your vessels to relax as they should, boosting blood circulation.6 This improved circulation will mean good circulation to the scalp too. With a better supply of nutrients and blood, you give your hair a better shot at growing well.
6. Calms Frizzy Split Ends
When used as a topical remedy, vitamin E can help you cut the frizz and even deal with split ends. Anecdotal suggestions for its use include simply mixing equal amounts of vitamin E from capsules with coconut and olive oil. Use this generously on your hair, focusing on the ends. Leave in for a few hours and then wash off. Repeat this process thrice a week and you should start to notice a change, with less split ends and softer and more glossy looking hair.
7. Works As A Topical Ingredient For Hair Massages And Hair Masks
Make a vitamin E-based haircare remedy a regular part of your haircare routine. You can simply add a capsule of vitamin E to a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil. Warm the oil and slowly massage into your scalp in circular motions to help boost circulation to the area. Leave this in for about half an hour before washing off gently with a mild shampoo. You could do this treatment a couple of times a week on a regular basis or until your hair is back to its healthy self.
A natural source of vitamin E, the avocado is great to use as a topical treatment as well. A cup of the pureed fruit has around 4.53 mg of vitamin E in it.7 Simply mix this in with a couple of tablespoons each of coconut and olive oil and apply to the hair like a mask. Leave in for half an hour before washing off. Try this once a week.
Daily Intake To Be Limited To 22.4 IU (15 mg)
Vitamin E dosages can vary from as little as 50 IU to as much as 1,000 IU when prescribed for therapeutic purposes or for disease prevention. That said, it is safer to get your vitamin E from dietary sources as opposed to supplements due to the risk of adverse effects of a hemorrhagic stroke from excessive intake.8 The sweet spot for average intake for a normal healthy adult should be in the zone of the daily recommended level of 15 mg or 22.4 IU whether that’s from food sources or supplements.9
Try Dietary Sources Of Vitamin E
Here are some foods you can eat more of to get your daily dose of vitamin E naturally. This will help supplement any topical use of vitamin E-based products or natural remedies you are applying on the hair, repairing your hair from the inside.10
- Wheat germ (30 g or ¼ cup): 5 mg
- Almonds (¼ cup): 9 to 10 mg
- Sunflower seeds (¼ cup): 8 to 13 mg
- Hazelnuts (¼ cup): 5 mg
- Spinach, cooked (½ cup): 2 to 4 mg
- Tomato sauce, canned (½ cup): 2 mg
- Eggs (2 large): 2 to 3 mg
- Eel, cooked (75 g or 2 ½ oz): 4 mg
- Sardines (75 g) : 2 mg
- Tuna (white) (75 g) : 2 mg
- Vegetable oil, wheat germ (5 mL or 1 tsp): 7 mg
- Vegetable oil from sunflower/safflower (5 mL or 1 tsp): 2 mg
Who Should Avoid Vitamin E
Vitamin E is generally considered safe to consume. However, supplements of the vitamin should be avoided by the following11:
- Anyone taking anticoagulants
- Anyone planning to undergo surgery in the near future
- Anyone who needs to get vitamin A therapy
- Anyone with retinitis pigmentosa (an eye disease)
Normal dietary intake in small quantities should be fine. Always consult a doctor if you intend to take a vitamin E supplement.
If you plan to use it topically, do a test it on a patch of skin first before applying to all your hair. If it makes your skin itch or reacts in any way, do not use it – you could be having an allergic reaction to it.
|↑1||Vitamin E. Office of Dietary Supplements.|
|↑2||Šebetić, Klaudija, Ines Sjerobabski Masnec, Vlatka Čavka, Darko Biljan, and Ivan Krolo. “UV damage of the hair.” Collegium antropologicum 32, no. 2 (2008): 163-165.|
|↑3||Beoy, Lim Ai, Wong Jia Woei, and Yuen Kah Hay. “Effects of tocotrienol supplementation on hair growth in human volunteers.” Tropical life sciences research 21, no. 2 (2010): 91.|
|↑4||Trueb, Ralph M. “Oxidative stress in ageing of hair.” International journal of trichology 1, no. 1 (2009): 6.|
|↑5||Trueb, Ralph M. “Pharmacologic interventions in aging hair.” Clinical interventions in aging 1, no. 2 (2006): 121.|
|↑6||Heitzer, Thomas, Seppo Ylä Herttuala, Elke Wild, Jukka Luoma, and Helmut Drexler. “Effect of vitamin E on endothelial vasodilator function in patients with hypercholesterolemia, chronic smoking or both.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 33, no. 2 (1999): 499-505.|
|↑7||Avocados, raw, California. United States Department of Agriculture|
Agricultural Research Service.
|↑8||Vitamin E. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑9||Vitamin E.Office of Dietary Supplements.|
|↑10||Food Sources of Vitamin E. Dietitians of Canada.|
|↑11||Spencer, Anne P. “Vitamin E: cautionary issues.” Current treatment options in cardiovascular medicine 2, no. 3 (2000): 193-195.|