Prenatal vitamins are dietary supplements that are formulated to meet the more robust nutritional needs of pregnancy and healthy fetal development. As such, they often contain concentrated amounts of certain vitamins and minerals compared to other multivitamins.
Prenatal vitamins on their own can’t make hair grow. But hair growth and health are a combination of many things. Since healthy length and hair regrowth can be impacted if there are nutrient deficiencies or inadequate intake, it’s possible that the comprehensive nutritional support from prenatals could foster an environment for healthy, vibrant hair. But there is no proof that taking prenatal vitamins at any time will result in faster hair growth or stronger, thicker hair.
Every brand formulates prenatal vitamins slightly differently, but they usually contain many of the basic water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins, as well as some minerals and other nutrients.
Most formulations of prenatal dietary supplements include:
Some, but not all, may include:
When choosing the prenatal vitamin that is right for your needs, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider and to thoroughly read the supplement facts label to know what nutrients, and how much of each, is in your product.
No studies have specifically tested how prenatal vitamins impact hair growth. But research has found that in some instances of hair loss, specific nutritional factors occur. One study that looked at people experiencing hair loss found lower levels of protein and iron. (Before considering supplementing with iron, always be sure to check your levels as excess iron can be toxic). Another small study in people with digestive absorption challenges found that 41% of patients who took multivitamins had better hair health.
Hair loss is a common issue that many people deal with. There is no single cause, and in more than 50% of cases, there is likely to be more than one contributing factor. These can be things like health conditions, medication side effects, nutrient deficiencies, physical or emotional stressors, trauma, surgery, or hormone imbalances. Researchers have noted that vitamin and mineral supplementation can be supportive for healthy hair growth since these nutrients are factors in normal cellular growth throughout the body.
Some micronutrients that are frequently found in prenatal vitamins may support healthy hair growth. These include:
There is not enough evidence to know whether the following support hair growth specifically, however, they are essential for healthy metabolic, enzymatic, and cellular energy functions. They may be supportive for healthy hair in less direct ways, but regardless of their impact on hair, are vital for well-being:
While low levels of nutrients can affect hair loss, consuming high amounts of nutrients can also lead to or cause hair loss. Micronutrient balance is important to maintain for healthy hair and overall wellness.
Macronutrients are also essential for overall health. While inadequate protein intake or digestion can impact hair health, you also need enough carbohydrates and healthy fats to support your body’s balanced metabolic processes. If you’re low on any macro or micronutrient, your body isn’t going to prioritize hair growth, so covering the basics of all of your dietary needs is crucial.
Postpartum hair loss is common, with most people experiencing a significant shedding around 2-4 months after giving birth. This process occurs because the normal shedding phase, known as teloptosis, is paused during pregnancy. Postpartum hair loss represents the shedding of this “extra” hair as the usual growth and shedding pattern resumes.
Postpartum hair shedding can vary, but typically lasts for about 6-24 weeks. Still, this can feel dramatic and even scary, and many postpartum people worry that they will lose all of their hair. There are no ways to prevent postpartum hair loss—it’s a normal physiological aspect of returning to the non-pregnant body. Prenatal vitamins support many aspects of postpartum wellness, and may help maintain balanced nutritional intake as the body works on finding a post-pregnancy balance. Be sure to always talk to your doctor about hair loss concerns.
Prenatal vitamins cannot treat hair loss directly, so there is no way of knowing how long it may take for nutritional supplements to support healthy hair.
Hair loss is a normal part of the postpartum phase, but it may be a sign of other imbalances that involve hormones or the immune system. If you experience hair loss that does not involve recent birth, you should see your healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause.
Yes, prenatal vitamins can be taken by people who are not pregnant. There are several reasons why a non-pregnant person may choose a prenatal supplement:
In some cases, taking a prenatal multivitamin may not be a good idea. Prenatals contain more folic acid or folate, along with iron, compared to other multivitamins.
You should not take a prenatal vitamin if you need to avoid supplemental iron. This includes people:
You may also want to skip prenatal supplements if you need to avoid higher intakes of folate, folic acid, or methylfolate (the active form of this nutrient). Folate is an essential nutrient for health. It is necessary for promoting healthy pregnancy, which is why it is included at higher amounts in prenatal vitamins. While all humans need folate, people who are not pregnant or not trying to conceive may be able to get enough from foods or general multivitamins.
Too much folate, particularly at intakes higher than 1,000 mcg, can hide a vitamin B12 deficiency. Vegans, vegetarians, and people with certain health conditions may be at a higher risk for inadequate B12 intake, and the health consequences of B12 deficiency can seriously affect neurological health.
Anyone who has a health condition should always check with their medical provider before starting supplements.
Biotin is popularly considered to be a vitamin for hair health and growth. But researchers have said that the cultural hyperfocus on the nutrient is not backed by clinical evidence. So where did this idea come from? Biotin deficiency does include a side effect of hair loss. The problem is that this does not automatically mean that taking biotin results in hair growth. There is no high-quality evidence from clinical trials to link biotin supplements with hair growth.
Biotin is in the B-vitamin family and supports many aspects of cellular energy production. Like other B vitamins and many micronutrients, it’s needed in proper balance to support overall nutritional balance in the body. Prenatal vitamins can support this overall nutritional intake, and some of them include biotin.
Neither biotin supplements nor prenatal vitamins have been proven by studies to lead to hair growth. The main difference between them is that prenatal vitamins support a balanced nutrient intake, with no mega-doses of nutrients. Some biotin supplements, on the other hand, can include really high amounts of this nutrient. High intakes of biotin supplements have been linked with disrupting lab work test results, which can cause major problems for anyone who needs routine testing for thyroid hormones.
“Baby glow” is a phenomenon that is well-known. It refers to the normal physiological processes that happen as pregnancy impacts the body in some noticeable ways:
Of course, not everyone experiences pregnancy as glowing. Pregnancy can also lead to nausea, discomfort, and mood changes. But overall, because of how the body shifts metabolic processes to fuel fetal growth and development and to prepare the body for birth and postpartum, this baby glow can make it seem like hair, skin, and nails all get fuller, stronger, and more vibrant during pregnancy. While a potentially enjoyable side effect, this baby glow is not something that you can control.
A healthy lifestyle and diet are important for supporting healthy hair.
Your hair can be affected by a lot of different lifestyle factors. If you want to support healthy hair growth and vibrance, consider the following:
Other aspects of a healthy lifestyle may not immediately or directly affect your hair, but are still vital for balance in your body. Good quality sleep, regular physical activity, and doing your best to avoid burnout are all important for your overall wellness and play a role in how your body absorbs nutrients. There are countless other things that may be involved, from genetics to age to the type of work you do (and chemicals you may be exposed to in the process), but a major thing that you can control is prioritizing basic aspects of everyday wellness.
The best way to support healthy hair is to focus on a healthy diet that includes all of the essential macronutrients and micronutrients. This comes from eating a variety of foods and can also be supported by a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin that provides a wide array of vitamins and minerals.
Your diet is probably not perfect, but that’s okay. Striving for perfection may actually lead to more stress, not less. Do your best to focus on consuming a balanced diet with plenty of variety, but know that some supplements (like multivitamins and prenatal supplements) can also help you cover your nutritional needs.
While the volume of clinical evidence behind some of these supplements varies, you can check with your medical provider about possible benefits for your specific needs.
Hair growth and health are the result of many aspects of your health. You don’t always have control over some factors (like postpartum hair loss), but some lifestyle and dietary choices can play a major role in your total well-being, which includes your hair. Nutrient deficiencies can be a common cause of changes to hair health. Multivitamin supplements, like prenatals, can support your overall micronutrient intake, which can be important for healthy hair, skin, and every other aspect of a balanced body.