Folic acid is the synthetic version of folate, a B vitamin. Women need folic acid; it's important in the development of the fetus. Folic acid is beneficial for healthy hair growth, but it's best known for its ability to help prevent spinal and neurological birth defects. If you'd like your hair to grow longer or at a faster rate, talk with your physician about your current diet prior to taking any supplements.
Folic acid, or folate, helps all of your tissues grow and various cells work. These tissues include skin, hair, nails and organs. It also helps prevent birth defects such as anencephaly and spina bifida, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Folic acid helps prevent anemia and works with other vitamins, such as vitamins C and B-12, to help your body create, breakdown and use proteins. Additionally, folate helps form red blood cells and produce DNA. In certain cases, folic acid is used to treat menstrual problems, leg ulcers and folic acid deficiency.
Folic Acid and Hair
Since folic acid helps your cells work and tissues grow, it helps your hair growth if you're receiving an adequate amount of folic acid on a regular basis. A study performed by the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph in Canada, states that folic acid seems effective in treating alopecia, or hair loss — at least in a Charolais calf. A three-week old male calf was suffering from progressive hair loss, crusting and brown patches — similar to a folic acid deficiency in man. The college administered a folic acid supplement therapy to the calf daily in doses of 1 mg/kg/day. The results was gradual disappearance of crusting and patches within just two weeks and a steady recovery of natural hair growth within two months.
Folic Acid Deficiency
If you are not getting enough folic acid in your diet or have a medical condition that prevents you from absorbing nutrients, such as chronic diarrhea or a malabsorption disorder, you could develop a folic acid deficiency. A folic acid deficiency can lead to gray hair, mouth ulcers, peptic ulcers, swollen tongue and poor growth — including poor hair growth. A folic acid deficiency can also lead to certain types of anemia, according to MedlinePlus.
You can obtain plenty of folic acid from your diet by eating foods such as citrus fruits and juices, dried beans and dark green, leafy vegetables. All of these types of foods naturally contain folic acid. Certain other foods have been fortified with folic acid, such as pastas, rice, cereals, breads, flours and other grain products. If for some reason you aren't able to consume an adequate amount of folic acid from your diet, your physician may recommend that you take a folic acid supplement.