Micronutrients are important alongside our daily macronutrient intake, but are often overlooked by the average person. Our bodies require micronutrients in order to function the way they physiologically should, and quite often people are found to be deficient in some type of vitamin.
Vitamins D and B are two common nutrients that people are found to be deficient in. These vitamins are important not only for your head hair's health and growth, but also for your facial hair — with that said, remember that we shouldn't always compare head hair and beard hair, as they are not entirely the same. We can, however, make certain inferences of facial hair by examining how hair on the scalp works, which will have a plethora of research studies in comparison to androgenic hair.
Vitamin D Deficiency
People don't feel or see that they're deficient in vitamin D, so it's a hard one to spot without getting tested. During winter time, when the sun has much less of a presence, is when people will be most prone to vitamin D deficiency. From that, it's easy to say that the farther you live from the equator, the more likely it is for you to be deficient in this vitamin.
As many as 42% of people in the United States alone may be deficient in vitamin D, and over 1 billion people globally may be deficient.
Those with darker skin also naturally have less vitamin D, as D is synthesized from cholesterol within the skin. The darker your skin, the more melanin you have preventing the sun from increasing your intake. While this means less vitamin D for those with darker skin, the upside is that darker skin is also less prone to the sun's harsh effects over a lifetime.
So, it's winter and we can't get enough sunlight, and in turn vitamin D, because:
Instead of attempting to get more sun, get your vitamin D orally. Because few foods contain any meaningful amount of vitamin D, it may be best to buy a vitamin D supplement.
Fatty fish like salmon should contain a nice amount of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin D, and egg yolks a small percentage.
When purchasing a supplement, always opt for vitamin D3 over D2.
How to Take Vitamin D3
The Office of Dietary Supplements recommends at least 600 UI (15 mcg) of vitamin D daily. If you're going for a high potency supplement like the 5,000 internal units NOW brand that is linked above, be sure you take it only once every few days — not every day. Also, consider taking the supplement only during the fall and winter months as you are likely to head outside more often during the warmer months.
If you don't get out much in the warmer months, feel free to take the supplement, but I'd recommend lowering it to just once or twice per week. You won't overdose on vitamin D by being out in the sun, so don't feel the need to avoid the sun while supplementing with vitamin D for that reason. This is due to the negative feedback loop, wherein your body will stop synthesizing vitamin D through sun exposure when it's had enough.
Take vitamin D3 with a meal that contains fat. Vitamin D is fat-soluble, so you'll want to take it just after you've eaten a meal that contains a bit of fat.
Why Vitamin D is Helpful for Beard Growth
Vitamin D is not only a vitamin, as it gets synthesized separate from its activity. In essence, it is considered to be a steroid hormone that helps regulate calcium and mineralization of bone.
More recently, it has been noted that Vitamin D3 boosts stem cells' ability to induce hair growth and create new hair follicles. Along with hair growth being a factor with D3, this can also help dormant or inactive hair follicles start producing hair. Remember: women and children have hair follicles on their faces, but they are simply not active and producing hair the way that men are, due to heightened hormones such as DHT.
"We found that treating the dermal papilla cells with VD3 significantly enhanced the growth of new hair over that of the control group," Dr. Aoi said. "We also observed a better rate of maturation of the follicles. In other words, the hair grew thicker and lasted longer."
While this was targeted toward hair regeneration, there's still something to be said about facial hair. As we already know, minoxidil is also meant for hair regrowth, but has been shown to help men vastly improve the fullness of their beards.
The bottom line is that hormones influence our facial hair, and hindering our progress by allowing ourselves to be deficient in what's a steroid hormone won't provide any benefit. There can only be good in keeping our vitamin D levels in a healthy range.
Vitamin K Deficiency
This vitamin is not quite mentioned very often, but is also one of the few that roughly half of adults are deficient in. It is said to work in tandem with vitamin D3, bringing calcium into your bones, helping with such things as tooth mineralization. The type you want specifically is vitamin K2, or menaquinone, which is found in meats.
This vitamin is hard to test for, as your levels of it will be whatever you've had within the past day or so.
Since this question may come up, let's go ahead and ask & answer it: which K2 supplement should I get — MK4 or MK7?
While it's a hard one to answer, many people opt for MK7 due to its higher bioavailability within the blood. On the other hand, MK4 is less likely to build up in your system and has a lower upper-limit. Because of this, I would take the safer route of going with MK4.
It would behoove you to speak with your primary doctor, however, as is the case with anything supplement-related.
How to Take Vitamin K2
There has been no negative affects of vitamin K through food or supplements, but as always with vitamins: more doesn't mean better. An adequate amount to take per day for a healthy adult would be around 120mcg.
Take vitamin K2 with a meal that contains fat, as it is a fat-soluble vitamin as D3 is.
Not to be confused with biotin, or vitamin B7. It's actually quite rare for people to have a biotin deficiency, but B12 is much more common.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
This is a common vitamin for people to be deficient in, particularly those that don't eat animal products. Vitamin B12 isn't something that we can produce ourselves, within our bodies. Unlike the sun hitting our skin producing vitamin D, we don't have that luxury with B12.
So if you're vegetarian or vegan, this is a vitamin you'll most definitely want to be supplementing, as studies have shown that these groups of people are highly susceptible to vitamin B12 deficiency.
If you eat meat, you're better off area, although that may not be the case for many people, as B12 is a complex vitamin to absorb for the body. Some people need high doses of supplements to counteract this, or the worst case scenario, having to take B12 injections.
How to Take Vitamin B12
No upper limit has been established for vitamin B12 as it has a low potential for toxicity. Many people that take the supplement simply opt for 500 mcg. Unlike a high-potency vitamin D supplement, a high potency B12 can be taken everyday and does not need to be taken with food.
Simply take it with water. Excess B12 and that which isn't absorbed will be urinated out.
Why Vitamin B12 is Helpful for Beard Growth
Every cell in our bodies require B12. If you don't have enough, you can develop disorders and risk for diseases. Generally, an unhealthy individual will have thin scalp hair and less androgenic hair (body and facial hair) throughout his body. Aside from the fact that your health would be at risk with a B12 deficiency, a nice, healthy beard is unlikely to thrive in that sort of environment.
With how hard it is for us to absorb B12 through our diets and how low the potential is for side effects, it's smart to take the supplement so that your body has ample amounts of B12, every single day.
There are other B vitamins aside from B12, of which the complex is said to be helpful for healthy skin and hair. Instead of taking just the B12, you could take multiple B vitamins at once.
Take care of your health, and your body and face will show it.
Wrapping things up...
These two vitamins are important for not only our overall health, but of course our awesome facial hair as well. While there are other vitamins that people tend to be deficient in, D and B12 are a couple of the major ones in the list.
Alternatively to supplementing just those two, you can make things easier for yourself and take a men's multivitamin. Be sure to read the ingredient labels to make sure that the multi has enough of the ingredients that you want from it.
Remember, fellas: Beard Profile is about making beards better. Whatever beard you can rock right now, if you want to improve it, there are always ways of bringing out its fullest potential. It starts on the inside with your health, but it can be improved also through knowledge, dedication, and patience. Beard onward.