The effects of folic acid on hair are usually favorable. Folic acid belongs to a group of nutrients known as B vitamins, all of which are beneficial to the human body in a number of ways, including hair strength and health. People who are deficient in folic acid, usually because they do not consume enough in their daily diets or because they lack the enzymes needed to break it down properly, may experience slowing of hair growth or weakening of strands. Conversely, the effects of adding folic acid on hair growth usually manifest as healthier, more prolific hair. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to incorporate appropriate amounts of folic acid into the everyday diet and therefore prevent malnutrition that leads to hair defects.
The many responsibilities of folic acid in the human body include breaking down and synthesizing proteins, tissue growth, efficient formation of red blood cells, and the reproduction of other bodily cells, including hair. Therefore, if an individual is not able to consume enough folic acid, the quality of hair and the rate at which it grows may be compromised. A reduction in the amount of hair cells that are being regenerated as a result of folic acid deficiency might mean that hair will not grow as fast, and may not be as long, thick, or strong as it could be if provided with appropriate amounts of folic acid.
Individuals who have brittle, weak, thin, or slow-growing hair may have a folic acid deficiency and could possibly benefit from consuming more folic acid or other B vitamins. Typically, introducing higher amounts of folic acid to the body will result in a slow, but noticeable strengthening or thickening of hair growth. Hair might also grow faster than it did before adding folic acid. The effects of folic acid on hair might not be noticeable, however, if the underlying cause of weak hair or hair loss is from factors other than B vitamin deficiency. For example, the underlying cause of male-pattern baldness most likely means that the effects of folic acid on hair growth will be negligible.
If folic acid deficiency is in fact the reason for hair loss or brittleness, the remedy is easily attainable. Adding folic acid to the diet is fairly simple, because many foods are natural sources of this nutrient. Fruits — particularly citrus — beans, whole grains or fortified cereals, and green leafy vegetables are all good sources of folic acid. Additionally, nutritional supplements of folic acid are widely available in pill or tablet form in many drugstores, health food or vitamin shops, or even grocery stores. Incorporating these foods or supplements should produce the desired effects of folic acid on hair growth and health.