Vitamins are the essential building blocks for our body. They are needed for proper cell function, growth, and development, and without an adequate supply of each essential vitamin, your body will show signs of deficiency through various health and wellness difficulties.
There are 13 different essential vitamins, and the B complex of vitamins makes up 8 of them. B vitamins all work together to maintain proper bodily functions including healthy skin and hair.
Keep reading to find out more about the benefits of B vitamins for hair and skin.
B Vitamin Complex
The B vitamin complex is made up of the following 8 vitamins:
- Vitamin B1 (or Thiamin)
- Vitamin B2 (or Riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (or Niacin and Niacinamide)
- Vitamin B5 (or Pantothenic acid)
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B7 (or Biotin)
- Vitamin B9 (or Folate)
- Vitamin B12
These 8 vitamins are responsible for proper metabolic functions, converting food to energy, creating new blood cells, and maintaining healthy skin cells, brain cells, and a strong immune system.
So why are there so many different B vitamins? Since the symptoms of deficiency in the various B vitamins are so similar, and they can be found in the same foods, it was once believed that there was a single vitamin B. But as research developed, it was made clear that these 8 vitamins were different chemical compounds, each being used for different body functions.
Signs of a Vitamin B Deficiency
If your B vitamin intake is lacking, your skin, hair, and nails will likely show the symptoms. On top of the fatigue, depression, nausea, and anemia that come along with malnutrition, deficiencies in the various B vitamins can result in the following problems with your appearance.
- Hair thinning or hair loss
- Changes to hair, skin, and nail color
- Skin rashes or dermatitis
- Cracks on the side of the mouth or swollen, cracked lips
- Rough skin
- Brittle nails
Vitamin B deficiencies are rare since they are found in a multitude of different food sources. The most common B vitamin deficiency is B12 since it isn’t always absorbed well by the body in certain forms, and it can be difficult to source for vegans and vegetarians. If you are noticing any of the symptoms of a B vitamin deficiency, contact your doctor to see if supplementation is necessary.
B Vitamins that Affect Hair and Skin the Most
Of the B vitamins, the ones that have the most direct effect on the health of your skin and hair are niacin (B3), biotin (B7), and Pantothenic Acid (B5)
Niacinamide Benefits for Skin and Hair
This B vitamin is one of the most popular b vitamins for skin, and for good reason.
Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 along with Niacin which is similar, and the two can be converted into one another.
Lots of research has been done on the benefits of vitamin B3 for the skin, and it has been shown to:
- Helps build keratin, the protein that makes up your hair, skin, and nails. This increase in keratin production increases elasticity in skin, strengthens and protects hair, and leads to higher skin cell turnover which gives the skin a more plump, refreshed appearance
- Reduces inflammation which can help with redness, acne, and skin conditions like eczema and rosacea.
- Creates a lipid barrier that helps seal moisture into the outer layer of skin which restores dehydrated skin, aids in anti-aging, and benefits those with eczema.
- Can lighten discoloration and dark spots - some research shows that 5% niacinamide concentrations can help with hyperpigmentation.
You can find niacinamide in serums, moisturizers, eye gels and creams, and in vitamin form.
Try Cleure's Eye Repair Gel with niacinamide to help improve elasticity and improve the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
Biotin Benefits for Skin and Hair
Vitamin B7, or Biotin, contributes to healthy metabolic, nerve, digestive and cardiovascular functions.
Biotin is one of the most common supplements marketed for beauty purposes. Any “hair, skin, and nails vitamin” is most likely predominantly made up of biotin.
While there is no conclusive evidence that supplementing with biotin leads to healthy hair growth, a biotin deficiency has been linked to hair loss as well as red, scaly skin. So, getting an adequate amount of biotin is more of a preventative measure for strengthening and protecting your skin and hair.
Vitamin B5 in Hair and Skin Care
Vitamin B5, also Pantothenic Acid, can be found in various shampoos and conditioners in the form of Panthenol, its derivative which the body converts to a vitamin once it’s absorbed.
Panthenol has various hair and skin benefits. It helps improve skin elasticity, and texture, strengthens the hair follicle, provides and retains moisture for both the hair and skin, and can help soothe the scalp.
Other B vitamins
The other five B vitamins also play a role in your skin and hair health
- Thiamine (B1) - Helps boost collagen production which improves appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- Riboflavin (B2) - Aids in cell turnover which gives skin a refreshed, radiant glow.
- Pyridoxine (B6) - Helps balance hormones which can reduce hormonal acne (find out how to tell what is causing your acne based on its location)
- Folate (B9) - Provides antioxidants to the skin which can fight free radical damage and help cell turnover
- Cobalamin (B12) - Reduces inflammation and dryness, and aids in cell reproduction
Food sources of vitamin B
Vitamin B deficiencies are rare since it is readily available in a number of food sources including:
- Meat (especially liver)
- Dairy products
You can also find B vitamins in non-animal products such as:
- Leafy greens
- Nuts and Seeds
- Fortified foods such as breakfast cereal and plant based milks
- Nutritional yeast
And take a look at these hair products formulated with B vitamins.