Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is an important nutrient that plays a key role in many of the body’s functions. A vitamin D deficiency may cause several problems, including hair loss.
Here, we look at how vitamin D and hair growth are linked, if a lack of vitamin D causes hair loss, and if it is reversible.
Does vitamin D deficiency cause hair loss?
There is some evidence that shows that having a vitamin D deficiency can lead to hair loss and other hair problems. Vitamin D production stimulates hair follicles to grow, and so when the body does not have enough of it, the hair health may be affected.
A vitamin D deficiency may also be associated with alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that leads to patchy hair loss.
Research shows that people with alopecia areata have much lesser levels of vitamin D than people who do not have alopecia.
Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to hair loss in people without alopecia. Other research shows that women who have other kinds of hair loss also had low vitamin D levels.
How does vitamin D affect hair?
Vitamin D affects the health of different parts of the body, including the skin and hair.
Vitamin D plays an important role in the formation of new hair follicles. Hair follicles are the tiny pores from which new hairs grow that may help hair maintain thickness and prevent existing hair from falling off prematurely.
Because of this connection, getting proper amounts of vitamin D can support hair growth and regrowth.
Vitamin D deficiency symptoms
People with a deficiency of vitamin D may have no symptoms, or their symptoms may be nonspecific and alter over time.
Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency include:
- changes in mood, including depression or anxiety
- frequent fractures
- slow wound-healing
- loss of bone density
- muscle weakness
- high blood pressure
- constant fatigue
- chronic pain
- decreased endurance
A lack of sun exposure or not eating enough vitamin D rich foods are the most common causes of a vitamin D deficiency.
However, some people may have a deficiency of vitamin D because of another underlying condition, including Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, which prevents the body from absorbing nutrients fully.
People with certain medical conditions will experience signs of the primary cause and symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency, as well.
Certain medications may also cause the body to break down vitamin D before it can be utilized. Medications that may cause a deficiency of vitamin D are:
- medications for HIV
If any medication is causing a deficiency of vitamin D or hair loss, a person should speak to their doctor about alternatives.
Taking Vitamin D supplements is the most effective treatment for a vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D supplements should usually be taken with meals, particularly ones with lots of healthful fats. Fat helps the body to absorb vitamin D properly.
Good sources of dietary fat include:
- chia seeds
- some fish, include salmon, trout, and sardines
Supplements come in different forms. Some can be either taken daily, once a week or once a month. When treating low vitamin D issues, a doctor will do a regular blood test every few months to see if a person’s vitamin D levels are increasing or not.
The Endocrine Society recommends that adults between the 19 and 55 of age receive 600 IU (International unit) of vitamin D daily. It also recommends that adults over 55 years of age receive between 600 and 800 IU per day of vitamin D. Finally, for children they recommended between 400 and 600 IU per day of vitamin D.
In certain cases where an underlying condition is causing the deficiency, then the condition will need to be treated properly.
Both Crohn’s and celiac disease can lead to a vitamin D deficiency. These diseases partially or fully block the absorption of vitamin D from natural food sources.
If medications are the cause, a person may need to talk about the alternatives with their doctor.
For mild deficiencies, increasing the time spent in the sun can also help. However, it is important to wear sunscreen and avoid prolonged sun exposure to lessen the risk of skin damage.
Your first defence against hair loss caused by a vitamin D deficiency is having 15 to 20 minutes of sun exposure per day and eating foods that are good sources of vitamin D.
You may also add a vitamin D supplement to your routine to support your vitamin D intake goals.
Brittle or sparse hair requires gentle treatment, so anyone facing hair loss can prevent further breakage by:
- not pulling the hair when brushing
- avoiding ponytails and other tight hairstyles
- using a gentle and natural conditioner
- Loosely tying long hair before bed to prevent tangling
Vitamin D affects certain aspects of your health and well-being, including hair growth. Having a vitamin D deficiency makes people more likely to suffer hair loss and many other different issues.
People worrying about vitamin D deficiency-related hair loss should consult their doctor who will likely recommend supplements, dietary changes, and spending more time outdoors to help combat the deficiency.