Can Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Hair Loss?

Hair loss? Yes, that is something that affects us emotionally more than it affects our heads. Hair loss is a problem that almost everyone faces in their lives, including both sexes. Through this article let’s dive right in to analyze the causes of hair loss including some lesser-known causes and proceed through the research to answer your question, ‘Can Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Hair Loss?’

Can Vitamin D deficiency cause hair loss?
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash Copyright 2021

1. Introduction – Understanding the Purpose

Hair loss, scientifically called alopecia, is a common concern that affects people of all ages and genders as stated above. While there are several factors that can contribute to hair loss, one lesser-known but potentially significant factor is the deficiency of vitamin D.

Vitamin D, often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including the health of our hair. We will be understanding how Vitamin D deficiency plays a role in hair loss and at the same time try to back it scientifically.

At the end, we will also be looking at some other causes and the ways through which we can treat vitamin D deficiency.

2. Understanding Vitamin D

Before we move on to understanding the relationship between vitamin D and hair loss or any other segment of the article, it is important to have a clear understanding of Vitamin D.

2.1. What is Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that primarily regulates calcium and phosphorus levels in the body. Vitamin D plays a critical role in maintaining bone health, immune system functioning in a smooth way and developing & maintaining the overall well-being of the body.

There are two main forms of vitamin D: vitamin D2 which is also called ergocalciferol and vitamin D3 known as cholecalciferol.

Vitamin D2 is primarily obtained from plant sources and supplements, while vitamin D3 is synthesized by the skin when the skin is exposed to the sunlight, especially during the morning hours.

2.2. Sources of Vitamin D

The primary source of vitamin D for most people is sunlight as when UVB rays from the sun hit the skin, they trigger the synthesis of vitamin D3, thus promoting the growth of vitamin D in the body. Dietary sources of vitamin D include fatty fish (such as salmon and mackerel), fortified foods (such as milk and cereal), and supplements that are used to maintain the levels of Vitamin D in the body.

2.3. Functions of Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in our body, some of the functions of vitamin D are to regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus for maintaining the bone health of the body. Thus, it helps to keep the bones healthy and in turn overall development of the body.

At the same time, it is responsible for supporting the functioning of the immune system as it also helps to maintain cell growth and differentiation.

Vitamin D affects gene expression in various tissues as well.

Overall, we definitely can say that Vitamin D plays a very crucial role in our body with having different functions and parts to play.

3. Understanding the Hair

Braid of a Woman
Photo by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash Copyright 2016

Before diving into analyzing the relation between hair loss and vitamin D deficiency, it is important to understand the hair anatomy and the basic hair growth cycle.

3.1. Hair Anatomy 

The outer layer of skin has hair follicles which are responsible for producing a protein called keratin, of which the hair is composed of. Each hair follicle contains a tiny structure which is called the hair bulb, that is responsible for the hair growth on our heads.

Hair follicles also have associated sebaceous glands that produce sebum, an oily substance that helps keep the hair and scalp moisturized and thus helps in maintaining the health of the hair.

3.2. Hair Growth Cycle 

Hair growth occurs in cycles just like any other cycle, with each hair strand going through different phases of growth and development. It has three phases in general which are as follows:

3.2.1. Anagen Phase 

The anagen phase or the active growth phase is the phase that lasts for several years which is the period of hair growth. It typically lasts for 3-5 years for most people.

In this phase, hairs are being pushed by the hair follicles that will continue to grow until the end of their lifespan or until they are cut down.

3.2.2. Catagen Phase

The catagen phase or the transitional phase starts just after the anagen phase, here the hair growth slows down. This phase lasts about for 10 days when the hair follicles start to shrink and there is a decrease in the growth of the hair.

3.2.3.Telogen-Exogen Phase 

The telogen phase or the resting phase and the exogen phase or the shedding phase are the phases where the hair is shed and replaced by new hair. The telogen and exogen phase can arguably be considered as a single phase as well, otherwise in the telogen phase the hair neither fall nor they grow and they then shed in the exogen phase.

Losing about 50-100 hair is normal during these phases. As the hair sheds away, new hairs are being grown in the hair follicles. 

Understanding the hair growth cycle is crucial in examining how vitamin D may influence this process and thus we will be able to understand how the deficiency of the same can contribute to hair fall.

4. Can Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Hair Loss

As of now, we have gathered enough understanding of both Vitamin D and the biology of hair, it is now time to explore the scientific evidence which will help us to understand the link between the both and answer the question, ‘Can Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Hair Loss?’

4.1. Role of Vitamin D in Hair Follicle Function

Various research have shown that vitamin D Receptors (VDRs) are present in the hair follicles. These receptors are essential for the normal functioning of the hair follicles.

Vitamin D is believed to influence hair growth and the hair’s overall health as it plays a role in the cycling and differentiation of hair follicles and as we have already studied in the previous section of the article, hair follicles are the ones that are responsible for the hair growth,

4.2. Scientific Studies

To establish and understand the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and hair loss, numerous studies have been conducted which concluded and established the relationship between the both.

In a 2019 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, researchers found that individuals with alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that leads to hair loss, had significantly lower levels of vitamin D compared to healthy controls.

Additionally, a 2020 study aimed at exploring the effects of vitamin D supplementation on hair loss. The study concluded that individuals with hair loss who then received vitamin D supplementation had experienced a significant increase in the number of hair follicles and hair shaft diameter.

4.3. Mechanism Behind Hair Loss Due to Vitamin D Deficiency 

There are a number of mechanisms which may explain how the deficiency of vitamin D can lead to hair loss, which include the following:

4.3.1. Disrupted hair follicle cycling

As we have understood Vitamin D deficiency plays a role in the cycling and differentiation of hair follicles, thus the normal cycling of hair follicles may be interfered with because of that reason and thus leading to hair thinning and loss.

4.3.2. Immune system dysregulation

Vitamin D is known to modulate the immune system of the body, and thus a deficiency of Vitamin D may contribute to autoimmune conditions that may lead to hair loss as a consequence.

4.3.3. Inflammation

Vitamin D deficiency is known to be associated with increased inflammation, which can negatively impact hair follicles and thus as a result of which impede hair growth.

Thus after understanding everything, we can say that Vitamin D helps promote hair growth and thus a deficiency of the same can cause hair loss.

5. Symptoms and Risk Factors for Vitamin D Deficiency

After understanding the links between vitamin D deficiency and hair loss, it is important to understand the symptoms of the same, the factors and signs to observe that may indicate the deficiency of vitamin D. At the same time, it is necessary to understand the risk factors for vitamin D deficiency.

5.1. Symptoms 

There are a variety of signs and symptoms which may indicate the deficiency of Vitamin D in the body. These include fatigue and weakness in the body, bone pain and muscle aches as it is directly related to bone health.

Furthermore, depression and mood swings may also indicate a deficiency of Vitamin D, also an increased susceptibility to infections is also an indicator of the deficiency as the immune system also weakens.

In the end, a clear sign of the deficiency is the hair loss or thinning of the hair, which indicates the deficiency of Vitamin D.

If you experience any of the symptoms, it is important to consult a doctor or a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis.

5.2. Risk Factors

The factors that can increase the risk of deficiency of Vitamin D in the body include the following:

5.2.1. Limited Sunlight Exposure

Limited sunlight exposure can be a major factor for the deficiency of Vitamin D as sunlight is known to be the primary source of Vitamin D. Individuals living in northern latitudes, those with indoor jobs, or individuals who wear extensive clothing for cultural or religious reasons may have limited exposure to sunlight.

5.2.2. Dark Skin

Dark skin can be a factor as well as higher melanin levels reduce the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D in response to sunlight thus increasing the chances of Vitamin D deficiency.

5.2.3. Aging

Aging is a factor for increased chances of deficiency of Vitamin D, as older adults have reduced skin synthesis of vitamin D thus making it deficient in the body.

5.2.4. Medical conditions 

Certain medical conditions that affect vitamin D absorption in the body, such as celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease are responsible for deficiency of the same.

5.2.5. Obesity 

Vitamin D may be sequestered in fat cells, reducing its availability in the bloodstream, thus increasing the risk of deficiency in obese people. 

6. Prevention and Treatment of Hair Loss Because of Vitamin D Deficiency 

After understanding everything about Vitamin D, hair loss due to deficiency of Vitamin D, relationship between the both and the risk factors, it is now equally important to know about ways with which we can prevent and treat the hair loss caused by the deficiency of Vitamin D.

Some of the ways include the following:

6.1. Vitamin D Rich Supplements 

Vitamin D capsule
Photo by Michele Blackwell on Unsplash Copyright 2019

One of the most effective ways to address vitamin D deficiency is through supplementation. Healthcare providers can perform blood tests to determine your vitamin D levels and recommend appropriate supplementation if necessary. Supplements influence vitamin D deficiency directly.  

Vitamin D supplements are available in different forms, including vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 which will help your body to deal with the deficiency of the vitamin.

6.2. Exposure to Sunlight

Child soaking sunlight
Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash Copyright 2021

Increasing your sunlight exposure is a natural way to boost your vitamin D levels in the body. Spending more time outdoors, especially during sunny periods, can help your skin synthesize vitamin D and thus decrease the deficiency. However, it’s essential to strike a balance to avoid excessive sun exposure, which can lead to skin damage as UV rays are harmful to the skin cells.

6.3. Dietary Changes 

It is important to incorporate vitamin D-rich foods into your diet which can also help prevent deficiency of the same.

Some dietary sources of vitamin D include; fatty fish like salmon and trout, fortified foods like milk, cereals and orange juice, egg yolks, and beef lever, which are all rich in Vitamin D.

6.4. Adopting Good Hair Care Practices 

Adopting good hair care practices to maintain healthy hair is important, while at the same time addressing vitamin D deficiency is equally crucial.

These practices may include using gentle shampoos and conditioners on the hair, avoiding excessive heat styling and chemical treatments, massaging the scalp to promote blood circulation and managing stress, as chronic stress can contribute to hair loss.

These are some of the good hair practices that can be adopted for healthy hair.

6.5. Consult a Doctor or a Healthcare Professional 

If significant hair loss is being experienced or various symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can be observed, it is necessary to reach out to a doctor. A doctor can critically analyze the symptoms and diagnose the hair loss problem to provide for necessary solutions and recommendations.

7. To Sum Up

In conclusion or to sum everything up we can definitely say that the deficiency of Vitamin D can cause hair loss as we have seen scientific proof as well for the same.

Understanding the role of Vitamin D and the biology of hair is important in working towards obtaining a solution to prevent and treat hair loss because of the deficiency. Along with this, signs and symptoms and the risk factors for deficiency of Vitamin D are necessary to be understood and observed.

Solutions for prevention include exposure to adequate sunlight, supplementation rich in Vitamin D, dietary choices and proper hair care practices. These are some methods that individuals can take to treat and prevent hair loss.

Last Updated on December 22, 2023 by