Expectant mothers are often pleased to note that the rate of growth and quality of their hair improves during pregnancy. Some also note improvements in their skin and nails. These benefits have been ascribed to components in prenatal vitamins, and this has led a number of non-pregnant women who desire such benefits to take prenatal vitamins. Let’s examine what is going on here to see if this makes sense.

Much of the improvement that pregnant women see in their hair, skin, and nails is due to the hormonal environment unique to pregnancy. There are, however, some nutrients that appear in prenatal vitamin formulas that do promote healthy hair, as well as skin and nails.

First among these is biotin, a B-vitamin that is required for tissue growth and development. Since hair is a relatively rapidly growing tissue, it is positively impacted by biotin. The implications for a developing baby are obvious, but only a few of the best prenatal vitamin formulas contain biotin at this time.

B-complex vitamins in general, but particularly folic acid and vitamin B-12, are needed for the production of proteins, Since hair is largely protein, these vitamins support hair growth and health. The best prenatal vitamins contain a wide spectrum of B-vitamins in significant amounts.

A number of minerals play roles in tissue growth and development. Iron is important in a number of ways. The trace mineral zinc is important as a co-factor for numerous enzymes, including those involved in hair growth. Copper is another trace mineral that can positively influence hair growth. All of these minerals are commonly found in good prenatal vitamins.

There has been some discussion as to whether non-pregnant women really need specialized prenatal vitamin formulas for such things as supporting hair growth and health. Since the benefits that can be derived from a prenatal vitamin are maximized when a mother is already taking it prior to conception, authorities such as Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen now recommend that all fertile women of child-bearing age should be taking prenatal vitamins as a matter of routine. This makes any controversy over utilizing prenatal vitamins to support hair growth and health essentially irrelevant.