Can Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Hair Loss?

How is vitamin associated with hair? does deficiency of this vitamin lead to hair loss? What are the signs? How can you reverse hair loss resulting from lack of this vitamin? Read on to find out.

What is the Link Between Vitamin D and Hair?

Vitamin D is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins which include vitamins A, D, E and K.  There exist two forms of vitamin D; that is D2 and D3. Vitamin D2, technically known as ergocalciferol.

It is obtained from fortified foods, plant foods, and supplements. Vitamin D3, is known as cholecalciferol and it is obtained from fortified foods, animal foods (fatty fish, cod liver oil, eggs, and liver), and supplements and can be made internally when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

vitamin d deficiency hair loss
Vitamin d supplement

Structurally, these two are not the same. Vitamins, such as vitamin D, are needed to reduce hair loss. It is a fact that Chemotherapy reduces vitamin D. It has been observed that Vitamin D reduces hair loss due to chemotherapy and the reasons include:

  • Vitamin D can reduce the amount of chemo needed, so less hair killed off
  • Less chemo results in less reduction in Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D can keep the hair healthy.

In a study evaluating serum ferritin and vitamin D levels in females with chronic telogen effluvium (TE) or female pattern hair loss (FPHL), in order to validate their role in these common hair loss diseases. Low serum ferritin and vitamin D2 are associated with hair loss in females with TE and FPHL. Screening to establish these levels in cases of hair loss and supplementing with them when they are deficient may be beneficial in the treatment of disease[1].

In this case-control study, 45 women with FPHL were evaluated as well as the same number of healthy women matched for age, hours spent under sunlight per day, and body mass index. Serum 25(OH) D3 level was measured using ELISA. This study brought about the correlation between the incidence of FPHL and decreased serum levels of Vitamin D3. It is recommended to evaluate serum Vitamin D3 levels as well as other hormone assays in these patients[2].

How Does Vitamin Deficiency Cause Hair Loss?

The Vitamin D receptor (VDR) plays a critical role in epidermal homeostasis. The ligand-dependent actions of the VDR attenuate epidermal keratinocyte proliferation and promote keratinocyte differentiation. Calcium can compensate for the absence of the VDR in maintaining a normal program of epidermal keratinocyte differentiation both in vitro and in vivo.

In contrast, the effects of VDR ablation on the hair follicle cannot be prevented by maintaining normal calcium levels and are independent of 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D. These actions of the VDR are critical in the keratinocyte stem cell population that resides in the bulge region of the hair follicle.

Absence of a functional VDR leads to a self-renewal and lineage progression defect in this population of stem cells, resulting in the absence of post-morphogenic hair cycles[3]. The vitamin D receptor, independent of vitamin D, plays an important role in hair cycling, specifically anagen initiation. The role of vitamin D in hair follicle cycling is not as well understood[4].

Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms and Causes

If any of the following apply to you, you should get your vitamin D levels tested sooner rather than later.

If you have darker Skin

African Americans are at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency, because if you have dark skin. This therefore implies that you may need as much as 10 times more sun exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D as a person with pale skin. Your skin pigment acts as a natural sunscreen, so the more pigment you have, the more time you’ll need to spend in the sun to make adequate amounts of vitamin D. 

In case you feel blue

Serotonin, the brain hormone associated with mood elevation, is increased with exposure to bright light and falls with decreased sun exposure. In 2006, scientists evaluated the effects of vitamin D on the mental health of 80 elderly patients and the findings were that those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who received healthy doses. 

If you are 50 years or Older

As you get older your skin doesn’t make as much vitamin D in response to sun exposure. At the same time, your kidneys become less efficient at converting vitamin D into the form used by your body. Older adults tend to spend more time indoors thereby getting even less sun exposure and therefore vitamin D. 

You’re overweight or obese (or Have a Higher Muscle Mass)

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble, hormone-like vitamin, which means body fat acts as a sink by collecting it. If you’re overweight or obese, you’re therefore likely going to need more vitamin D than a slimmer person  and the same holds true for people with higher body weights due to muscle mass.

When your bones ache

According to Dr. Holick, many who see their doctor for aches and pains, especially in combination with fatigue, end up being misdiagnosed as having fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. “Many of these symptoms are classic signs of vitamin D deficiency osteomalacia, which is different from the vitamin D deficiency that causes osteoporosis in adults,” he says. “What’s happening is that the vitamin D deficiency causes a defect in putting calcium into the collagen matrix into your skeleton. As a result, you have throbbing, aching bone pain.”

Head Sweating

The first cardinal sign of vitamin D deficiency is sweaty head and more so the forehead. Excessive sweating in newborns due to neuromuscular irritability is still described as a common, early symptom of vitamin D deficiency.

You are likely to experience gut trouble.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and this hence means if you have a gastrointestinal condition that affects your ability to absorb fat, you may have lower absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D in the long run as well. This includes gut conditions like Crohn’s, celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Excessive sweating

It is very difficult to point out if newborns are deficient of vitamin D. However, a sweaty forehead is one of the first noticeable symptoms of this as an underlying condition. The same is true for adults and therefore if your forehead glows when your activity level remains steady, your temperature is close to 98.6° and you are in a moderate environment, then you should consider a vitamin D test as this could be a deficiency symptom.

Noticeable, unnoticeable and unexpected weakness.

Pumping iron is not the only measure of muscle strength. Vitamin D deficiency could leave you feeling entirely exhausted. Proper vitamin D intake helps maintain power in each and every fiber of your nerves whether in the old or young.

A research conducted by a team of experts from Harvard linked vitamin D supplementation with increased muscle control resulting in 20% fewer falls among adults around the age of 60 years. It is interesting to note that within six months of supplementation, D-like muscle weakness can be eliminated, Western Journal of Medicine Study.

Bone mass building stops at the age of around 30 years and lac of vitamin D could speed up or even worsen osteoporosis symptoms, according to the research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Fortification which was first introduced around the year 1930, almost eradicated the weak bone condition rickets. However, it is nearly impossible for anyone to satisfy Vitamin D needs of the body through diet. It needs a three week exposure and utilization of sun, supplements and foods.

Chronic pain

According to Holick, ‘it is often subtle, but some experience aches and pains in the bones, known as osteomalacia’. Those who are diagnosed with arthritis or fibromyalgia may be shy of enough vitamin D as a deficiency can cause joints and muscles to ache too.

If the discomfort lasts for several weeks, consult with your doctor in order to find out if vitamin D deficiency could be the cause and if your treatment program should include the vitamin. You should also be informed that adequate vitamin D can prevent post-work out pain and increase the speed of muscle recovery.

Vitamin D Hair Growth Food Sources to Reverse Hair Loss

In case you are diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency, it is very appropriate for you to use up to 50,000 IUs weekly for up to three months until the vitamin D levels in your body are normal. After that, you would switch to normal maintenance

vitamin D foods to reverse hair loss
vitamin D foods

Regarding this vitamin, always aim at being in the optimal range and not the normal or the average range. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults is around 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day. This amount is likely to go up to 800 IU a day for those who are older than age 70 years.

To meet this level, choose foods that are rich in vitamin D. Examples of foods rich in this mineral include: fortified foods, milk and yogurt, and fatty fish, such as salmon (A small 3½ ounce portion of cooked salmon will give you 90% of the recommended dietary intake of Vitamin D), trout, tuna (Eat 3 ounces of tuna daily for 50% of your vitamin D needs.

Fresh, wild-caught tuna is the most nutritious), catfish and halibut. Eggs are another food that contains vitamin D in small amounts. Consumption of one egg daily will provide you with approximately 10% of your daily needs.

Be careful not to overdo this however. Very high levels of vitamin D have not been shown to provide greater benefits. Instead, too much vitamin D has been linked to other health problems. Very large doses of vitamin D over an extended period can result in toxicity.

Signs and symptoms of vitamin D toxicity include nausea, vomiting, constipation, poor appetite, weakness and weight loss. In addition, vitamin D toxicity can lead to elevated levels of calcium in your blood, which can result in kidney stones.

Any other non-food means to prevent vitamin D deficiency hair loss

Sunshine

Daily exposure to sunshine helps increase the daily intake of vitamin D by an individual. This vitamin is often referred to as a sunshine vitamin. When light from the sun hits the skin, it stimulates the production of this vitamin and hormone. It is therefore very beneficial if you sun bathe daily. Those individuals in colder areas would however depend on dietary intake of the vitamin due to limited exposure to sun light.

Other Vitamin Deficiency that Cause Hair Loss in Children, Men & Women

  • Vitamin b
  • others
Coarse, brittle hair zinc
Dandruff vitamins B2, B6, zinc, magnesium, biotin
Dry hair vitamin A, zinc
Graying hair folic acid, pantothenic acid, PABA, biotin, minerals (weak adrenals, avoid sweet food)

 

Sources

[1] Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2013; 26(2):101-7. Doi: 10.1159/000346698. Epub 2013 Feb 20.
Rasheed H1, Mahgoub D, Hegazy R, El-Komy M, Abdel Hay R, Hamid MA, Hamdy E.
1Department of Dermatology, Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt.

[2] Int J Trichology. 2016 Jul-Sep; 8(3):116-20. doi: 10.4103/0974-7753.188965.  Banihashemi M1, Nahidi Y1, Meibodi NT2, Jarahi L3, Dolatkhah M4.

[3] Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, doi:10.1016/j.abb.2011.10.002; Available online 7 October 2011.
Marie B. Demay , Endocrine Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 50 Blossom St, Thier 11, Boston, MA 02114

[4]Dermatol Online J. 2010 Feb 15; 16(2):3. Amor KT, Rashid RM, Mirmirani P. Department of Dermatology, University of Texas and MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.

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