Which Vitamin Deficiency Causes Hair Loss? The 9 Most Common
- Vitamin deficiency and hair loss
- The role of supplementation
- Other causes
- Treatment options
Hair loss is one of the most widespread conditions faced around the world. And while many people think it’s a result of growing old, genetics, or an underlying medical condition, an overlooked cause is vitamin deficiencies.
Vitamins are the building blocks of a healthy body and are essential to several bodily functions, including hair production.
It stands to reason that if your body lacks these vital ingredients, your hair will be just one aspect that will suffer.
Hair loss, hair thinning, and scalp irritation are some symptoms of vitamin deficiencies. So how do you know if you simply need to improve your intake? We’re here to help you find out.
This article will explain everything you need to know about vitamins and their relationship with hair loss. We’ll highlight which vitamin deficiency causes hair loss and suggest easy ways of improving your intake.
We’ll also share some of the best treatment options proven to help protect hair and hopefully prevent future hair loss.
The 9 most common vitamin deficiencies that cause hair loss
1. Vitamin B12 deficiency and hair loss
One of the most common vitamin efficiencies known to contribute to hair loss is a Vitamin B12 deficiency.
B12 is an essential vitamin for many reasons. Firstly, it not only helps grow new hair but helps provides sustenance for your existing hair, skin, and nails. It does this by helping create healthy red blood cells, which carry oxygen and nutrients around the body.
Secondly, Vitamin B12 helps regulate your metabolism of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and as well all know, the protein keratin is an essential part of the hair. Without B12, your body might be unable to produce new keratin to continue hair production.
Symptoms of B12 can include light-headedness, heart palpations, diarrhea, as well as tiredness. You might also suffer from skin inflammation, scaling, and itching, damaging hair follicles and dramatically reducing hair quality.
2. Folic acid deficiency and hair loss
Also known as folate or Vitamin B9, Folic acid is essential to healthy hair. It plays a significant role in growing new cells around the body, including those of the hair follicle. Folic acid can help increase keratin production, resulting in thicker-looking hair.
Being deficient in folic acid can lead to a severe condition known as megaloblastic anaemia, which primarily affects your red blood cells.
The condition causes these cells to be malformed; they grow too large to leave the bone marrow and enter the bloodstream.
A reduced amount of red blood cells can severely impact the quality and health of hair follicles, as they have limited access to oxygen and nutrients. Symptoms include feeling incredibly tired, weak, and having shortness of breath.
Additionally, a folic acid deficiency can reduce the level of keratin in the body; lower levels of keratin result in weaker, thinner hair that has stunted growth.
3. Biotin deficiency and hair loss
Also known as B7 or Vitamin H, Biotin is a core player in keeping hair, skin, and nails healthy. It helps with metabolizing amino acids, which, as we know, are incredibly important to your hair.
As a water-soluble vitamin, your body does not store this vitamin. Symptoms of the deficiency include dry, scaly skin, inflammation, brittle nails, and weak hair prone to breaking off.
Generally speaking, most people get enough biotin by eating a varied diet. You might develop a deficiency if you aren’t eating healthily or suffer from a specific disease that affects biotin absorption, like Crohn’s disease.
As such, consult with your doctor on ways to increase biotin, including different foods in your diet and any appropriate biotin supplement.
4. Riboflavin deficiency and hair loss
Also known as B2, riboflavin is an essential vitamin that regulates several bodily functions, including helping produce energy within cells, protecting us from damaging particles known as free radicals, and promoting new growth.
Being deficient in riboflavin can lead to a condition known as ariboflavinosis, which is linked to hair loss. Without B2, follicles will not receive the nutrients they need to reach their potential.
Furthermore, without riboflavin in the body, free radicals can damage cells, hampering your follicles even further.
Riboflavin can be found in foods like leafy green vegetables, milk, fortified cereals, and eggs. Many people will have more than enough if they eat a healthy, varied diet.
5. Vitamin D deficiency and hair loss
Although vitamin D is one of the most well-known vitamins, many people don’t truly appreciate its importance to normal bodily functions. And as such, they don’t appreciate the potential vitamin D supplements can have.
Vitamin D is central to regulating the hair growth cycle, ensuring that once a strand is shed, a new one develops to take its place.
Research has shown that a vitamin D deficiency can prevent follicles from being able to restart the cycle and grow new hair.
Low vitamin D levels are quite common, especially if you live in a place with limited sunlight, during the darker winter time, or you aren’t eating enough foods that are rich in the vitamin.
Vitamin D supplements can be an effective way to increase your levels and hopefully improve your hair health.
6. Zinc deficiency and hair loss
Zinc is a trace mineral that does many critical bodily functions. It stimulates cell growth, heals wounds, and supports a healthy immune system. But zinc is also a building block for healthy hair, too.
This is because zinc can help regulate the amount of sebum produced. Sebum is an oil-like substance that follicles on the scalp produce to keep hair moisturized and hydrated.
Hair becomes too dry or oily with low zinc levels, leading to dandruff, folliculitis, and skin irritation.
Not only that, but low zinc levels can weaken your immune system, opening you up to potential infections and poor health. This can have a severe knock-on effect on the quality of your hair.
As a trace mineral, you only need a small amount of zinc – and yet, a deficiency is still quite common, especially if you aren’t eating a varied diet or have an underlying medical condition that prevents zinc absorption.
7. Selenium deficiency and hair loss
Although perhaps not as well-known as zinc, selenium is another trace mineral essential to several bodily functions, including stimulating healthy hair growth.
Selenium can affect your hair in two ways. Firstly, it is linked to the production of selenoproteins, essential proteins that regulate and metabolize thyroid hormones.
These hormones influence hair growth, and a deficiency in them can lead to stunted development.
Additionally, selenium has antioxidant properties, which help protect your body (and hair) from damaging free radicals.
The mineral also has anti-inflammation properties that can significantly improve the condition and quality of the skin, creating an ideal environment for hair to grow.
Because it is a trace mineral, you only need a small amount of selenium in your diet. The average person often consumes enough selenium through nuts, whole grains, and seafood.
Be careful, though, as too much selenium can cause you adverse problems, including hair loss, so striking a balance is essential.
8. Iron deficiency (anemia)
Your body uses iron to make haemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen in red blood cells. As such, iron is an essential mineral required to stay healthy.
But iron also plays a vital role in collagen synthesis, which helps give our skin its strength, resilience, and elasticity.
Low iron can dramatically affect your hair because lower oxygen levels reach the hair follicle. This, in turn, restricts hair growth and causes strands to become weak and brittle.
Low iron levels are also linked to a weakened immune system, making you more susceptible to infection and illness.
An iron deficiency is common and can be triggered by many things, including eating a low-iron diet and normal bodily functions like menstruation in women.
Some people may also have problems with iron absorption. Common symptoms include extreme fatigue, cold hands and feet, pale skin, and headaches.
You can combat an iron deficiency by eating a high-nutrition diet with dark green vegetables like spinach or broccoli or taking an iron supplement.
9. Vitamin C deficiency
Vitamin C has many benefits for the body. It can improve blood circulation, but it also helps boost our immune system, ensuring we can fight off infections and diseases that would otherwise harm us.
And because of its antioxidant properties, it can help protect our body, including our healthy hair follicles, from damaging free radicals.
This vitamin is found in various foods, including citrus fruits, orange juice, leafy greens, strawberries, and kiwi. There is a low incidence rate in developed countries.
That said, if you do have a vitamin C deficiency, it can develop into a severe condition known as scurvy, which can cause hair loss, hair thinning, and hair-splitting.
Try to improve your vitamin C intake by eating the previously mentioned foods, or consider taking a vitamin C supplement.
How to treat a vitamin deficiency through dietary supplements?
Dietary supplements can be an effective way of addressing any vitamin deficiencies you have. These supplements can help increase your daily intake quickly and easily, and restore hair growth to optimal levels.
That said, you must first know which vitamin or mineral you lack. That’s why it is highly recommended that you go to your doctor, who can run some diagnostic tests, like blood tests, for concrete results.
Once identified, your doctor can suggest various treatments, including high-quality supplements, to reverse your vitamin deficiency.
These can come in tablet, capsule, or gummy form and are widely available in most online retailers, health shops, and pharmacies.
That said, you should not rely totally on supplements to increase your vitamin count. Eating a healthy, varied diet is one of the best ways to improve your general health and well-being and ensure your hair is well-supported.
Concentrate on eating more fruits, vegetables, dairy products, whole grains, and lean protein, and eliminate processed fats from your diet.
8 Other potential common causes of hair loss
It is important to remember that a lack of vitamins and minerals is just one potential factor for hair loss. Below are eight other possibilities you need to consider:
One of the most common reasons for hair loss is genetics – some people are predisposed to losing their hair. This includes hereditary conditions like androgenetic alopecia, commonly known as male pattern hair loss or female pattern hair loss. If someone in your family suffered from hair loss, you might experience a similar condition.
2. Hormonal changes
Hormones can play a massive part in regulating our hair growth cycle. But sadly, imbalances or changes can also contribute to hair loss.
Significant life events like pregnancy and menopause, as well as certain medical conditions like thyroid disorder, may cause your hair to fall out earlier than expected.
3. Medical conditions
As well as problems with your thyroid, many other medical conditions can cause hair loss. These can include everything from bacterial and fungal infections to patchy hair loss caused by autoimmune disorders like alopecia areata or lupus, skin disorders, and more. Consult your doctor to see if you have an underlying condition affecting your hair.
Some medications can have hair loss as a common side effect. These might include chemotherapy drugs, antidepressants, and hormone medications like birth control.
Never stop taking your medication without the guidance and approval of your doctor.
5. Nutritional deficiencies
You must provide follicles with the proper nutrition if you want healthy hair. Hair might shed earlier than expected if you are deficient in a certain vitamin or mineral.
Address these concerns with your doctor, who may run blood tests to determine what you need to eat more. They may recommend supplements to help improve your intake.
Stress can be a significant contributor to hair loss. This is because when we experience high-stress levels, we produce more cortisol.
Cortisol is a hormone that can disrupt and affect normal hair function. By managing your stress, you can help prevent any natural hair growth cycle disruption.
7. Hairstyling practices
Certain hairstyle products can lead to hair loss, especially if they contain harsh chemicals or dyes. Additionally, you should avoid overusing styling devices like hair straighteners, curling irons, or wearing hair in tight hairstyles. –as these can all add unnecessary stress to strands.
As we grow older, our hair will naturally slow down, become thinner, and might even fall out easier than before.
Some ways to minimize age-related hair loss include using helpful haircare products, eating a nutritious diet, and starting hair growth treatments early. This way, you can help protect your current hair and limit further hair fall.
Five excellent ways to treat hair loss
You can make easy lifestyle changes or undergo specific treatments to address your hair loss. Which one you choose will ultimately depend on the root cause of your hair loss and the severity and overall health.
As always, you should consult your doctor and ask for their recommendations on the best treatment.
Some of the five best ways to correct hair loss include:
While there are a variety of different medications that claim to treat hair loss, two of the most popular and effective are Minoxidil and finasteride.
Minoxidil, also known as Rogaine, is an over-the-counter, topical solution applied directly onto your scalp to help extend the growing phase of hairs.
Finasteride is a prescription-only tablet that works on a biological level. It blocks hormones like testosterone from changing into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a sex hormone known to shrink hair follicles and cause hair loss.
2. Hair transplant surgery
Hair transplant surgery is an innovative hair loss treatment that can permanently correct hair loss.
Simply put, a highly skilled surgeon will extract hair from a dense part of your head and transplant them strategically into balding areas. It can be incredibly effective in correcting even extensive hair loss.
3. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy
PRP therapy is another cutting-edge treatment that uses your platelets’ power and healing properties to promote hair growth.
A blood sample is taken and prepared, isolating platelets and growth factors. It is then reinjected into areas experiencing hair loss, helping to improve new hair follicles and trigger improved growth.
4. Low-level laser therapy (LLLT)
LLLT is an innovative way to help heal hair follicles and stimulate and sustain new hair growth. A device emits a low-level laser light on damaged hair, which is thought to help make strands thicker and stronger.
5. Lifestyle changes
Making small changes to your lifestyle can help address some of the most common causes of hair loss, including poor diet, high-stress levels, and harsh chemical treatments.
Changing your everyday routine can drastically improve your hair’s quality and quantity.
Try to eat a balanced diet rich in nutrients and vitamins, and manage your stress levels by enjoying some gentle exercise.
You should also avoid using harsh chemicals and dyes and overusing styling devices like straighteners and curling irons.
Hair loss can be quite a traumatic thing to experience, shattering both your confidence and self-esteem. Not only are you stressed about your thinning hair, but you might also worry if an underlying medical condition is at play.
But as our article has shown, vitamin deficiencies can contribute significantly to both male and female hair loss and should not be overlooked or underestimated. Your body may lack essential nutrients, and your hair is falling out in response.
Thankfully, this can be rectified.
But you must visit your doctor as soon as possible to find out for definite. They can run several diagnostic tests, including blood tests, to examine if you lack anything specific. They will also be able to review your general health and ultimately put your mind at ease.
With hair loss, an essential thing to have is a positive mental attitude. There are several treatments available for you to help protect and nurture hair and prevent any future loss from occurring.
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