Reader Q&A: CurlyNikki on Taking Vitamins for Healthy Hair

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Calling all naturalistas: Do you have urgent tress questions? If so, you're in luck. Every Thursday, natural hair blogger extraordinaire CurlyNikki will be solving your curly hair conundrums! Submit your questions by tweeting them to @EssenceOnline with the hashtag #AskCurlyNikki.

Check out the newest installment in CurlyNikki's reader Q&A series:

READER QUESTION: I need longer hair now! I feel like I’ve been stuck at chin length for a decade. What hair vitamin do you take? Do they work? What’s up with prenatal vitamins?

I’m a huge fan of green drinks, but I’ve been off my game lately. When I was pregnant, I researched vitamins the same way I did natural hair, and decided that Rainbow Light One (a food based vitamin — some argue that those are better than the ones that contain minerals and vitamins chemically derived in a lab) would be one of the better brands to invest in. I popped one a day for the entire nine months, and continued use throughout the next nine months of breastfeeding. Now that I’ve got my body back to myself, I feel less motivated (shame on me!) and hardly ever remember to take one... I don’t even drink water the way I used to. So, as of now, the answer is no, I don’t regularly take a vitamin.

Before I started taking a prenatal, I had a glass of Green Vibrance every morning. It was the only vitamin/supplement that I could 'feel' working. It gave me energy and with breakfast, kept me feeling full until lunch. Unfortunately it tastes like swamp butt, and MUST be mixed into apple juice for it to be considered palatable. However, I highly recommend it! I’ve got some in the freezer and plan to get back on schedule today!

Prior to Green Vibrance I was an avid user of Trader Joe's Super Crusade. An independent study was performed (on TJ's and many other vitamins on the market), and they concluded that it in fact contains all the ingredients the label claims. Good, right? It’s sad to believe that there are products out there that are full of fillers and false claims. Where’s the FDA when you need ‘em? I also love TJ's because the pill is relatively small (the size of a Tylenol gel capsule), goes down easy, and the price is right.

As an aside, my research brought me to Biotin and MSM. If you do decide to take a hair vitamin or multi, it should contain these two ingredients. Biotin promotes cell growth, the production of fatty acids, and metabolism of fats. MSM lengthens the hair growth phase (which means that you keep more hair on your head). Using a combination of the two is beneficial for healthy hair. This winning combo, plus a quality multivitamin may aid in the hair growing process. To tie a bow on this, I don’t contribute my growth to vitamins. It’s just one part of the puzzle — a healthy diet, regular cardio and adequate water intake, will also help you maximize the genetics you were gifted with. In addition, gentle handling of the hair you’re already working with will keep more of it atop your head. Finally, it’s important to note that prenatals (compared to your average multi vitamin) don’t lead to astounding growth and increases in volume. Pregnancy hormones do that. And then, as if labor wasn’t enough, much of that hair falls to the floor. Fun. So as always, there are no quick fixes, just patience and TLC. Happy hair growing!

Nikki "CurlyNikki" Walton is a successful psychotherapist and creator of one of the most credible online sources about natural haircare, maintenance, and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair. Visit her at her blog CurlyNikki or follow her on Twitter @CurlyNikki.

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