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Can Folic Acid Help Hair Grow?
Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)
Updated on April 3, 2024

While folic acid is widely known as a pregnancy supplement, the vitamin is increasingly involved in hair-growth discussions. It is estimated that 75% of UK women between 16 – 49 suffer from low folate levels.

In this article, we examine whether this B vitamin deficiency affects hair growth, how much folic acid is needed, and the health impact of too much or too little folic acid [1].

Table of Contents
What is folic acid?

What is folic acid?

Folic acid and folate are both forms of vitamin B9. While their names are often used interchangeably, ‘folate’ and ‘folic acid’ do have key differences. Folate is an umbrella term that refers to a range of different B9 vitamins, while folic acid is the synthetic form of B9 used in supplements and the artificial enrichment of food [2].

Vitamin B9 plays a vital role in key bodily processes such as the healthy production of cells, cell division and DNA synthesis. The body cannot produce folate alone, but the vitamin is naturally present in many foods and can also be imbibed as folic acid, the synthetic form of folate.

As folic acid is crucial in the healthy development of a foetus, pregnant women are recommended to take supplements up until week 12. These folic acid supplements can help to prevent the development of major birth defects in the foetus’ brain and spine, which are caused by neural tube defects.

How much folic acid do I need?

Adult men and women should consume 400 micrograms of folic acid a day. Natural folate is present in leafy greens, citrus fruits, beans, nuts, peas, seafood, and animal products. It is most concentrated in liver, spinach, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts [3].

In 1996, the USA began to fortify many common grain products (such as cereal, flour, bread, pasta, crackers, etc.) with folic acid. This fortification is estimated to have increased people’s natural consumption by 100-200 micrograms a day [4]. However, the UK has only recently begun its fortification efforts and introduced mandatory fortification of non-wholemeal flour in 2021 [5].

Many people still will not consume enough folate naturally through their diet so should consider folate supplementation. Women of reproductive age especially are encouraged to ensure their folate is high as many pregnancies are unplanned, and birth defects often occur before pregnancy is known [6].

How does folic acid affect my hair health?

Unfortunately, there is not enough research to establish whether there is any link between folic acid and hair growth. Like any deficiency in vital vitamins, a lack of folic acid may indirectly negatively impact your hair growth and quality due to the essential role that B9 plays in various bodily processes.

Vitamin supplements for hair growth have become increasingly popular over the past few years, and folic acid is no exception. A balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for healthy hair growth. However, unless you have a severe vitamin or mineral deficiency, there is no evidence that excessive supplementation has any positive impact on your hair health or hair growth. In some cases, supplements can even be harmful [7].

Folic acid may have an impact on autoimmune-related hair loss, however. An Iranian study noted that people suffering from alopecia areata (a common balding condition believed to be autoimmune in nature) had lower folate levels than the control group, who did not suffer from the condition [8]. However, conversely, a study in Turkey found no difference in folate levels across those with and without alopecia areata. More research is needed to further establish what link there is between folic acid and hair loss, if any.

How do I know if I’m folic acid deficient?

Not enough folic acid can lead to a range of different symptoms as your body is placed under greater strain. However, extreme deficiency can lead to various forms of anaemia such as folate-deficiency anaemia or megaloblastic anaemia, where the body produces abnormal red blood cells. While these conditions are rare, some impacts can be irreversible so you should seek professional advice if you notice several symptoms such as:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Mouth sores
  • Swollen tongue

Grey hair can also be linked to vitamin deficiencies, including folic acid, although it has a plethora of other causes such as natural ageing.

Can I take too much folic acid?

Consuming the recommended amount of folic acid is highly unlikely to cause side effects. Taking more than 1mg (1000 micrograms) of folic acid a day may have a negative impact on your health, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Rash and other skin reactions [9]

If your symptoms are serious, or you notice negative changes in your body after taking folic acid, seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Folic acid is also sometimes conflated with an increased risk of cancer. As the body struggles to convert the synthetic form into active B9, unmetabolized folic acid can build up in the bloodstream which some studies have linked to a higher risk of prostate cancer [10].

However, this has not been proved definitively – several other studies have produced results that refute this link. Rather, folate supplementation. generally decreases the risk of disease.

Folic acid for hair conclusion

Ultimately, no evidence suggests that excessive folic acid supplementation will help with your thinning hair or promote growth. However, vitamin B9 is vital to the healthy function of many bodily systems, so moderate folic acid supplementation is highly useful and recommended by many leading healthcare authorities, especially for women.

It’s normal to lose between 50 to 100 hairs a day, and you most commonly will notice this in the shower or on your pillow. If you notice increased hair shedding beyond this, there’s usually an underlying cause, such as stress, medication, health issues, or hair loss conditions.

Speak to a healthcare professional or trichologist if you are worried, but it is very unlikely that your hair loss is caused by a folic acid deficiency alone. Our hair loss specialists at the Wimpole clinic can help diagnose the cause of your hair loss and work with you to create a treatment plan based on your needs and hair restoration goals. Contact us today to learn more about the services our award-winning team offers.

Can Folic Acid Help Hair Grow?, Wimpole Clinic

Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)Updated on April 3, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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