nutrition

Do Prenatal Vitamins Really Help Hair and Nail Growth? All Your Questions Answered

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

5 min read

A woman in the woods, braiding her hair with her hair covering her face

Nutrient deficiencies can sometimes limit hair growth and lead to hair loss. Prenatal vitamins can address these deficiencies and even help your hair.

“Baby glow”: How pregnancy affects your hair, skin, and nails

The “baby glow” is a phenomenon you’ve probably witnessed. It’s when, over the course of a pregnancy, the pregnant person’s hair fills out, their skin becomes radiant, and their nails start growing like never before. The experience is far from universal, but it happens often enough for us to take note of it.

So, what accounts for the baby glow? Well, some studies do show that hair loss seems to decrease during pregnancy, only increasing again after delivery. Pregnancy is sometimes correlated with a prolonged anagen phase, which is the phase of hair growth where your hair follicles actively grow. The result of this prolonged anagen phase is more hair growth and less hair loss. Postpartum, though, the telogen phase of hair growth, which is when your hair follicles rest and then hair falls out, accelerates.

But the baby glow isn’t just about hair. The radiant skin you sometimes see on pregnant people is likely caused by the increase in skin pigmentation that occurs during pregnancy, resulting from an increase in estrogen and progesterone. Furthermore, these hormone changes can also contribute to hair and nail growth.

Since many pregnant people also take prenatal vitamins, some have wondered whether prenatal vitamins have something to do with the baby glow – and hair growth, in particular. Let’s consider these claims.

Do prenatal vitamins make your hair grow?

Since hair growth can be inhibited by nutrient deficiencies, it’s possible that prenatal vitamins, which contain many different vitamins and minerals, can support hair growth. Some vitamins and minerals that are important for hair growth include:

  • Iron: Those experiencing iron deficiencies also sometimes experience excessive hair loss.
  • Zinc: Those with hair issues tend to have statistically lower serum zinc concentrations than those.
  • Niacin: Severe niacin deficiency can lead to diffuse hair loss.
  • Selenium: Animal studies have found that rats deficient in selenium display poor hair growth.
  • Vitamin D: Those with hair issues tend to have lower levels of serum vitamin D2.
  • Biotin: Biotin deficiency can lead to hair issues.
  • Fatty acids: Fatty acid deficiency can lead to a reduction in scalp health and loss of scalp hair and eyebrow hair.

What vitamins do prenatal vitamins have?

If you’re looking to select a prenatal vitamin, be sure to read the label carefully. All prenatal vitamins have different formulas. That said, some of the essentials include:

The Care/of prenatal vitamin – dubbed “Baby Love” – includes 22 essential nutrients and is designed for easy digestion.

Do prenatal vitamins help with hair loss?

Prenatal vitamins can help with hair loss that’s caused by nutrient deficiencies.

Part of the reason prenatal vitamins can be so important for people during pregnancy is that nutrient demands go way up during pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins can help you make up for any deficiencies caused by this increase in demand. Getting enough nutrients is also vitally important for any hair care routine.

Beyond taking prenatal vitamins, you also want to make sure you’re getting enough protein. Lack of protein can disrupt hair growth and create challenges for your hair health.

Can prenatals help women treat postpartum hair loss?

First of all, you should know that postpartum hair loss is very normal. During pregnancy, the anagen phase of hair growth is prolonged; that’s the phase where your hair follicles actively grow. Once pregnancy ends, the telogen phase, which is when you start to lose some hairs, is accelerated. So, if you’re experiencing some postpartum hair loss, there’s no real cause for alarm. Postpartum hair loss typically lasts for about two to four months after childbirth.

Prenatal vitamins can help make up for any nutrient deficiencies and may thereby help slow your postpartum hair loss, though no specific studies have been done as yet. One study has looked at some possible treatment options for postpartum hair loss, but the results are not conclusive. Fortunately, postpartum hair loss is common and tends to resolve itself over time.

Biotin vs. prenatal vitamins for hair growth

Biotin is a supplement that’s grown in popularity for its purported benefits for hair growth. That said, studies haven’t yet demonstrated its effectiveness.

Prenatal vitamins have not been studied specifically for their effect on hair growth, but we do know that nutritional deficiencies can inhibit hair growth. To the extent that prenatal vitamins can help bridge nutrient gaps, they can also support hair growth. However you should not just take a prenatal hoping for hair growth especially since the dose of vitamins used were formulated with pregnant people in mind who need more of certain nutrients like iron, folate, and biotin.

Still, the best way to support hair growth is to make sure to eat a diet rich in many nutrients. You should also try to manage stress and get enough sleep. Another option to consider would be adding in a multivitamin to fill in any nutrient gaps you have in your diet. You may also benefit from some other hair-supporting supplements, such as Care/of’s vegetarian collagen or Care/of’s keratin, a.k.a. “The Good Hair Day.”

Is it safe to take prenatals if you’re not pregnant?

Yes, prenatal vitamins are safe even if you’re not pregnant. Some people take them when they’re actively trying to conceive.

The most important thing to watch out for is your iron levels, since most prenatal vitamins contain some amount of iron. Since excess iron can be toxic for your body, you should talk to your doctor about testing your levels before getting on a prenatal vitamin.

Key takeaways

Nutrient deficiencies can inhibit hair growth and contribute to hair loss. Prenatal vitamins can support hair growth that’s caused by nutrient deficiencies. However, no specific studies have been done to assess the effect of prenatal vitamins on hair growth. The baby glow you see from pregnant people – hair and skin shining, nails growing – can be caused by a number of factors other than prenatal vitamins.

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