With so many everyday factors damaging to our hair, it could be hard for many to grow long, healthy strands. While researching to determine how we can naturally grow our hair, we came across a number of hair growth supplements and pills that just didn’t seem safe. Although many of the brands contained some seemingly safe ingredients, they also contained ingredients such as horsetail extract, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) and various amino acids. But the one ingredient all of these pills and supplements had in common was biotin.

Proven to grow hair naturally and healthy, recommended by many nutritionists, we needed to find out if this was the golden ticket that could truly help our hair grow. We spoke to nutritionist Rovenia “Dr. Ro” Brock, Ph.D., to hear her take on hair vitamins and advice on what we should really be taking to grow healthy hair.

EBONY: I think readers just want to get to the point: what is the actual vitamin that encourages hair growth?

Dr. Ro: Vitamin B, biotin. Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin and supports the growth of hair, skin and nails but especially hair. Years ago, I had a bald spot in my scalp from a result of a perm gone bad. I used to go to the dermatologist to get steroids, and my dermatologist would tell me that it would work but I would have to reduce the stress in my life. So I put my nutrition knowledge to use and made a hair oil using herbal oils. I made a concoction of vitamin E oil, thyme oil, sweet almond oil, rosemary oil, great seed oil and peppermint or lemon for scent, and I took 5,000 micrograms of biotin a day for my hair to grow. I started locking my hair, and now it is as long as my other locks.

EBONY: How does your diet affect your hair growth, or lack thereof?

Dr. Ro: Any product that you use topically on the skin and the scalp won’t fortify best results unless you put good nutrition in your body. Your body is one big organism, and your body’s system works together as an organism. So whatever you put on your skin and in your hair isn’t going to work unless you put it in your body. The only reason anyone wouldn’t see ample results combining topical treatments and good nutrition is if they had other medical problems that could be tied to hair loss.

EBONY: Are there any health risks for hair growth supplement use?

Dr. Ro: There are no health risks for taking biotin, but you do have to be careful when you take vitamin supplements and make sure that you intake standardized nutrients. Country Life is a good brand, which is available at most health food stores. I also like Carlson’s. You also want to take a multivitamin daily. You don’t need to take more than 5,000 micrograms of biotin a day if you’re going to take a multivitamin as well. Taking both will give you the best results. But taking more than 5,000 micrograms will not make the hair grow any faster, it’ll only excrete through your urine.

EBONY: Are there other factors that take place in growing hair naturally?

Dr. Ro: Yes. Eat lots of colorful fruits and vegetables. Make your plate one quarter whole unprocessed grains; another quarter lean meats such as fish, chicken or turkey; and half fruits and vegetables. Also, drink half your body weight of ounces of water. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 70-80 ounces of water a day.

EBONY: Based on your review of products, what conclusions have you drawn about hair growth formulas or pills? 

Dr. Ro: My general thought on hair growth pills is to forget about them! Let’s just take the vitamins. …  There’s no pill that is going to grow your hair back. Unfortunately, thinning hair and hair loss comes with age and stress. You have to reduce the stress in your life. You have to make the decision that you’re going to take care of yourself. You have to love yourself and take care of your body.

We are all living energy. That energy you put into your thoughts is going to come out in your body. Start treating yourself with love and affection. Loving yourself is the opposite of being stressed. If you can lose hair by being under stress, then you can gain hair by loving yourself (and of course, taking your biotin!).

Learn more of Dr. Ro’s nutrition tips and healthy eating on Everything Ro.

—Damonica Boone