Folic Acid For Hair: What Is It, Benefits & How To Use 2024

Lindsey Desoto

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Jennifer Olejarz, Nutritionist & Health Coach

folic acid for hair
Foods rich in folic acid for hair growth.

When it comes to achieving beautiful hair, our first thought may be to turn to the beauty aisle. 

But while collagen supplements and hair care products may be helpful, healthy hair starts from within.

Eating a well-balanced diet with superfoods for hair promotes healthy hair and prevents vitamin deficiency.

In particular, research suggests folic acid may play a role in keeping your strands healthy and preventing hair loss.

This article explores the benefits of folic acid for hair health. It also discusses how to take folic acid for hair growth and other essential nutrients for healthy hair.

Folic Acid Hair Growth: Key Takeaway

  • Folic acid promotes cell division and tissue growth, including hair follicles.
  • Adequate intake supports a healthy scalp environment.
  • It contributes to the production of new hair follicles.
  • Folic acid aids in the maintenance of strong and thick hair growth.
  • Incorporating folic acid into the diet or through supplements can benefit overall hair health.

What Is Folic Acid For Hair?

Folic acid[1] is the synthetic form of folate or vitamin B9. It’s the form found in most dietary supplements and fortified foods such as bread, rice, and some breakfast cereals.

Folic acid is used by your body to make new, healthy cells.[2] These include the cells found inside your skin, hair, and nails.

Furthermore, folic acid is necessary to keep your red blood cells circulating in healthy numbers. This ensures a steady flow of oxygen to your hair follicles.

Folic acid supplementation is commonly recommended before and during pregnancy. It helps form the neural tube[2] in developing babies and can protect against spine and brain birth defects.

Is Folic Acid Good For Hair Growth?

Folic acid is a B vitamin that generates new cells, including hair follicles. 

A deficiency in folic acid has been associated with hair loss and premature graying. Supplementing with folic acid may improve hair growth in cases of deficiency. 

However, it’s not a guaranteed solution for hair loss, especially when deficiency is not the underlying cause.

To support healthy hair, consume a nutrient-rich diet with B vitamins, iron, vitamin D, and protein. If you’re losing significant amounts of hair, consult your healthcare provider for an appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

Benefits Of Taking Folic Acid For Hair

So, does folic acid help hair growth?

While research suggesting the benefits of folic acid for hair is limited, it shows promising potential.

Although relatively uncommon, folate deficiencies have been associated with hair loss[3] and changes in hair, skin, and nails.

People with poor diet, alcoholism, and conditions that interfere with nutrient absorption are at a greater risk of deficiency.

In addition, there is limited evidence that folate levels may impact the progression of alopecia areata[3] and premature graying. Alopecia areata[4] is a condition where the immune system attacks hair follicles, causing hair loss.

Remember, though, that further human studies are needed to confirm folic acid’s specific role in hair loss. There isn’t enough evidence to routinely recommend folic acid supplements without a confirmed deficiency. 

How To Take Folic Acid For Hair Growth

Before taking folic acid for hair loss and thinning hair, it’s important to know how much folic acid to take.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance[1] for folate is 400 micrograms for men and women aged 19 years and older. Pregnant women need 600 micrograms, while lactating women require 500 micrograms.

In addition to hair, skin, and nail changes, folic acid deficiency can lead to the following symptoms:[1]

  • Weakness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Ulcers in the mouth or tongue.
  • Gastrointestinal issues.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Irritability.
  • Headache.
  • Difficulty concentrating.

If you have a folate deficiency and increase your folic acid consumption, you may notice improvements in hair loss. 

However, if you are not deficient in folate, taking a folic acid supplement is unlikely to be beneficial. In fact, it may actually lead to adverse health concerns.

High intakes of folic acid supplements and foods fortified with folic acid may worsen symptoms[5] of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Too much folic acid may also increase the risk of certain types of cancer, especially colorectal cancer in some individuals.

These effects are unlikely to occur with the consumption of naturally high-folate foods. 

The National Institutes of Health recommends adults keep daily folic acid consumption to less than 1,000 micrograms.[5]

What To Eat

The best way to ensure your folate needs are met is to consume a balanced diet with folate-rich foods, including:

  • Green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, turnip greens, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli.
  • Fortified breakfast cereals, rice, and pasta.
  • Beef liver.
  • Beans and legumes.

If you don’t get enough folic acid in your diet from food, you may consider adding a folic acid supplement.

Other Key Nutrients For Healthy Hair

In addition to folic acid, several other nutrients are important for healthy, strong hair.

Protein

folic acid for hair
Protein-rich foods for hair growth.

Dietary protein is important for hair growth and health. This is because hair is made primarily of keratin.[6]

Keratin is a protein that maintains the strength and health of your hair, skin, and nails.

When we consume enough protein in the diet, it breaks down into amino acids. The hair follicle can use these amino acids to build up keratin.

Other B Vitamins

Like folic acid, B vitamins support healthy hair and hair growth by improving blood supply to the scalp.[7]

Deficiencies[3] in riboflavin, biotin, and vitamin B12 have been associated with hair loss. 

One 2016 study of 541 females found a biotin deficiency[8] in 38% of women who complained of hair loss.

However, no evidence supports using vitamin supplementation to improve hair growth in those without vitamin deficiencies.

Iron

folic acid for hair
Iron-rich foods deliver oxygen to your scalp for hair growth.

Iron[9] is important for producing hemoglobin, a protein in your red blood cells. Hemoglobin delivers oxygen to repair and grow cells, including your hair follicles responsible for hair growth.

Current studies have produced conflicting evidence about the relationship between iron deficiency and hair health. However, most experts agree that inadequate iron intake[10] can lead to hair loss.

Moreover, vitamin C[3] is important in those with hair loss caused by iron deficiency. This is because it helps promote iron absorption in the gastrointestinal tract.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D[11] plays an important role in the growth and development of hair follicles. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to several common types of hair loss. A vitamin D deficiency may damage hair follicles permanently and cause premature graying.[3]

More research is needed before regularly recommending vitamin D as a treatment for hair loss without a confirmed deficiency.

Final Thoughts

Folic acid is one of many nutrients needed for healthy hair. 

A folic acid deficiency may lead to hair loss and premature graying. However, there is no evidence that folic acid alone is effective at promoting hair health.

To support hair health, prioritize a well-balanced diet with whole grains, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and fruit. Using quality hair products to prevent breakage and maintain your strands is also a good idea.

If you are noticing large amounts of hair loss, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider.


+ 11 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Nih.gov. (2016). Office of Dietary Supplements – Folate. [online] Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/.
  2. CDC (2022). Folic Acid. [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid/about.html.
  3. Almohanna, H.M., Ahmed, A., Tsatalis, J.P. and Tosti, A. (2019). The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review. [online] 9(1), pp.51–70. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6.
  4. NIAMS (2017). Alopecia Areata. [online] National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Available at: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/alopecia-areata.
  5. Nih.gov. (2016). Office of Dietary Supplements – Folate. [online] Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-Consumer/.
  6. Trüeb, R.M. (2021). ‘Let food be thy medicine’: Value of nutritional treatment for hair loss. [online] 13(6), pp.1–1. doi:https://doi.org/10.4103/ijt.ijt_124_20.
  7. Wall, D., Meah, N., Fagan, N., York, K. and Sinclair, R. (2022). Advances in hair growth. [online] 11. doi:https://doi.org/10.12703/r/11-1.
  8. Trüeb, R.M. (2016). Serum biotin levels in women complaining of hair loss. [online] 8(2), pp.73–73. doi:https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-7753.188040.
  9. Nih.gov. (2022). Office of Dietary Supplements – Iron. [online] Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-Consumer/.
  10. Aad.org. (2019). Hair loss: Tips for managing. [online] Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/treatment/tips.
  11. Saini, K. and Mysore, V. (2021). Role of vitamin D in hair loss: A short review. [online] 20(11), pp.3407–3414. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/jocd.14421.
Lindsey Desoto

Medically reviewed by:

Jennifer Olejarz

Lindsey DeSoto is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based out of Coastal Mississippi. She earned her BSc in Nutrition Sciences from the University of Alabama. Lindsey has a passion for helping others live their healthiest life by translating the latest evidence-based research into easy-to-digest, approachable content.

Medically reviewed by:

Jennifer Olejarz

Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Trusted Source

Go to source

SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

Trusted Source

Go to source

African Journals Online

Non-profit Platform for African Journals

Trusted Source
Go to source

Journal of The American Board of Family Medicine

American Board of Family Medicine

Trusted Source
Go to source

Informit

RMIT University Library

Trusted Source
Go to source

European Food Safety Authority

Science, Safe food, Sustainability

Trusted Source
Go to source

OrthoInfo

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Trusted Source
Go to source

American Academy of Family Physicians

Strengthen family physicians and the communities they care for

Trusted Source
Go to source

Agricultural Research Service

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Trusted Source
Go to source

The American Journal of Medicine

Official Journal of The Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Database From National Institute Of Health

Trusted Source
Go to source

Lippincott Journals

Subsidiaries of Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Institute on Aging

Database From National Institute Of Health

Trusted Source
Go to source

Translational Research

The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine

Trusted Source
Go to source

Cell

An All-science Publisher

Trusted Source
Go to source

Journal of Translational Medicine

BioMed Central

Part of Springer Nature
Go to source

Federal Trade Commission

Protecting America's Consumers

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Human Genome Research Institute

Database From National Institute Of Health

Trusted Source
Go to source

Food Production, Processing and Nutrition

BioMed Central

Part of Springer Nature
Go to source

BMC Gastroenterology

BioMed Central

Part of Springer Nature
Go to source

ACS Publications

A Division of The American Chemical Society

Trusted Source
Go to source

Annual Reviews

Independent, Non-profit Academic Publishing Company

Trusted Source
Go to source

PubChem

National Center for Biotechnology Information

National Library of Medicine
Go to source

PLOS Journals

Nonprofit Publisher of Open-access Journals

Trusted Source
Go to source

Thieme E-books & E-Journals

Peer-reviewed & Open Access Journal

Trusted Source
Go to source

European Journal of Agriculture and Food Sciences

Peer-reviewed International Journal Publishes

Trusted Source
Go to source

Royal Society of Chemistry Publishing Home

Chemical Science Journals, Books and Database

Trusted Source
Go to source

Frontiers

Publisher of Peer-reviewed Articles in Open Acess Journals

Trusted Source
Go to source

De Gruyter

German Scholarly Publishing House

Trusted Source
Go to source

Hindawi

Open Access Research Journals & Papers

Trusted Source
Go to source

Oilseeds and Fats, Crops and Lipids

EDP Sciences

Trusted Source
Go to source

Cambridge Core

Cambridge University Press

Trusted Source
Go to source

FoodData Central

U.S. Department Of Agriculture

Trusted Source
Go to source

Journal of the American Heart Association

Peer-reviewed Open Access Scientific Journal

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

The Americans with Disabilities Act

U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division

Trusted Source
Go to source

Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Organization of Food and Nutrition Professionals

tr
Go to source

Sage Journals

Database From Sage Publications

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Institute of Drug Abuse

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

The ClinMed International Library

A Repository and an Open Access Publisher for Medical Research

Trusted Source
Go to source

The Royal Society Publishing

United Kingdom's National Academy of Sciences

Trusted Source
Go to source

APA PsycNet

Database From American Psychological Association

Trusted Source
Go to source

The Pharma Innovation Journal

Peer-reviewed And Refereed Journal

Trusted Source
Go to source

Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Development

Peer-reviewed Bimonthly Journal

Trusted Source
Go to source

British Pharmacological Society

Journals - Wiley Online Library

Trusted Source
Go to source

American Psychological Association

Scientific and Professional Organization of Psychologists

Trusted Source
Go to source

AAP Publications

Database From American Academy of Pediatrics

Trusted Source
Go to source

Karger Publishers

Academic Publisher of Scientific and Medical Journals and Books

Trusted Source
Go to source

Cambridge University Press & Assessment

Database From Cambridge University

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Institute of Mental Health

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

MDPI

Publisher of Open Access Journals

Trusted Source
Go to source

Bulletin of the National Research Centre

Part of Springer Nature

Trusted Source
Go to source

The New England Journal of Medicine

Massachusetts Medical Society

Trusted Source
Go to source

Economic Research Service

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Trusted Source
Go to source

MedlinePlus

Database From National Library of Medicine

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

National Institute of Health

An agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Trusted Source
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

The BMJ

Weekly Peer-reviewed Medical Trade Journal

The British Medical Association
Go to source

The British Psychological Society

The British Psychological Society is a charity registered in England

Database From Wiley Online Library
Go to source

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

PubMed

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S National Library of Medicine
Go to source

DailyMed

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S National Library of Medicine
Go to source

Google Scholar

Go to source

Science.gov: USA.gov for Science

Government Science Portal

Go to source

ResearchGate

Social Network Service For Scientists

Find and share research
Go to source

American Heart Association

To be a rentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives

Go to source

BioMed Central

Research in progress

Go to source

JAMA Network

Home of JAMA and the Specialty Journals of the American Medical Association

Go to source

Springer Link

Database From Springer Nature Switzerland AG

Springer - International Publisher Science, Technology, Medicine
Go to source

ODS

Database from Office of Dietary Supplements

National Institutes of Health
Go to source

Federal Trade Commission

Bureaus of Consumer Protection, Competition and Economics
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Governmental Authority
Go to source

Oxford Academic Journals

Oxford University Press

Trusted Source
Go to source

Taylor & Francis Online

Peer-reviewed Journals

Academic Publishing Division of Informa PLC
Go to source

WHO

Database from World Health Organization

Go to source

Journal of Neurology

Peer-reviewed Medical Journal

American Academy of Neurology Journal
Go to source

ScienceDirect

Bibliographic Database of Scientific and Medical Publications

Dutch publisher Elsevier
Go to source

Wiley Online Library

American Multinational Publishing Company

Trusted Source
Go to source

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

U.S. National Public Health Agency

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database from U.S. National Library of Medicine

U.S. Federal Government
Go to source

U.S. Food & Drug Administration

Federal Agency

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

PubMed Central

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S National Library of Medicine
Go to source
Feedback

Help us rate this article

Thank you for your feedback

Keep in touch to see our improvement