Most people lose up to 100 hairs on any given day without noticing, because new hairs are growing in at the same time. Hair loss begins when there is no new hair replacing those hairs that have fallen out. The cause of hair loss, however, isn’t always easy to pinpoint. Hair loss is a complicated topic as there are many contributing factors and potential causes. Always consult your doctor to discuss potential underlying causes and health issues.
There are some correlations between low vitamin D levels and hair loss, but there have been no conclusive studies to date. While people with hair loss have tended to have lower levels of vitamin D, this is not evidence in itself. Approximately 40% of the population is vitamin D deficient, and most of them are asymptomatic. It is fairly easy to find out if you are vitamin D deficient. A simple blood test can determine your vitamin D level and your physician can recommend a course of action to remedy it.
Even if you are clinically deficient, there are a number of potential causes for hair loss that should also be considered. Family history (genetics) is the most common cause of hair loss and usually accompanies aging.
Temporary hormonal changes due to childbirth and pregnancy can contribute to hair loss along with minor things such as everyday stressors. Medications and pre-existing conditions can also cause hair loss. Even the processing, coloring, treatments, twisting, extensions, and spraying of your hair in the name of looking good may contribute to hair loss.
This study concluded that the effect of micronutrient supplementation on hair loss had its own specific limitations, and that further studies are needed before vitamin D could be routinely recommended as a treatment for hair loss.
Vitamin D and the vitamin D receptor (VDR) are believed to play an important role in the activation of the anagen phase of hair growth (when the new hair is formed and is pushing the old hair out). This study concluded that modalities that upregulate the vitamin D receptor may be successful in managing hair disorders, and that more research is needed.
This research on the role of vitamin D in hair disorders and hair follicle cycling found that the absence of the VDR can lead to hair loss. This research was done on animal models, and the researchers suggest that further research is necessary.
Nearly 40% of the population are vitamin D deficient or have low levels and may not present with any symptoms. It is important to check your levels periodically and if necessary consult with your physician about the best possible options to bring your levels within the normal range. Clinical deficiency can be defined as levels below 20 ng/mL, insufficient is 21-29 ng/mL, and the goal is lab values above 30 ng/mL. The RDA is 15-20 mcg, though some people may need more. Consult with your physician when determining the appropriate amount for you.
Aside from hair loss, symptoms of possible vitamin D deficiency include:
These symptoms are not unique to vitamin D only and if you have any health concerns or notice any of these symptoms you should always talk to your doctor. Your team can come up with the best plan to address your concerns that are unique to you and your needs.
There is not enough evidence to determine whether or not hair loss as a result of vitamin D deficiency will return once the deficiency is addressed. This study shows potential in addressing vitamin d deficiency and restoring hair growth, though its researchers contend that further studies on a larger group of patients is required. This pilot study used topical vitamin D to support hair growth and found it could be useful to patients with hair loss who are vitamin D deficient, though more research is necessary.
It is always best to get all of your nutrient needs met with a healthy diet that includes fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains, and dairy. If you are unable to meet and sustain the optimal level of vitamin D, supplementing is always an option. Be sure to look for a premium brand with effective doses like Care/of’s vitamin D, The Sunny D3. Check with your physician to be sure you are getting the correct dosage for optimal results. You may need a higher than normal dosage. When supplementing, your levels should be checked on a regular basis until they are consistently within normal range. It is always best to take vitamin D with food to maximize absorption.
There’s a reason vitamin D is called “the sunshine vitamin.” When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it manufactures vitamin D. Exposure to the sun for ten to thirty minutes per day is supposed to be enough for your body to create sufficient amounts of D, but this isn’t always true. The geographic distance of the sun can impact how the body reacts to its UVB rays, pollutants can disrupt the UVB rays, and the pigment of skin can make it more challenging to absorb UVB, thereby limiting its vitamin D benefits.
The list of foods that are high in vitamin D is relatively short, making it somewhat difficult to get all of your vitamin D from food. Any healthy eating plan should always include fresh fruit and vegetables, though the best sources of D include fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines, rainbow trout, swordfish, beef liver, cod liver oil, mushrooms, yogurt, and eggs.
In the 1930s, the United States began to fortify whole milk with vitamin D in an effort to eradicate bone issues in young children due to severe vitamin D deficiency. Fortification continues to this day and whole milk is always a good source of vitamin D, though one glass is not enough to meet the RDA. Plant-based alternative milks such as oat, soy, and almond are also fortified, as are orange juice, breakfast cereals, baby food, flour, and edible spreads like margarine.
While there seems to be a lot of research on vitamin D and its impact on hair loss, there’s almost as many declarations by researchers that more research is required. This study even contends that “Each study conducted to date has its own specific limitation, and the constraint of cost and lack of motivated funders for this research are significant limitations.”
That said, a large portion of the population is vitamin D deficient and asymptomatic. There can be consequences if you are deficient. It’s always a good idea to get your vitamin D levels checked by your physician and, if need be, begin a course of supplementation to return them to within normal range. Hair loss is a complicated topic as there are many contributing factors and potential causes. Always consult your doctor to discuss potential underlying causes and health issues.