If you’ve recently seen hair loss, you’re probably wondering what’s causing it. Is this your way of life? Are you overusing hot tools? Do you overdo the ponytails, updos, and buns in your hair? Or maybe you’re vitamin deficient. We’re here to talk about that final one. After all, while all of the aforementioned factors might put stress on the hair, vitamin shortages are the most common causes of strand loss.
Of fact, the vitamins (or lack thereof) that are causing loss may not be as visible as you may expect. After all, it’s not always about biotin. Instead, a lack of vitamin D might be to fault. But it’s not always that simple. With that in mind, we met with two specialists to learn everything we could about vitamin D-related hair loss.
GET TO KNOW THE EXPERT
- Michele Green, MD, is a cosmetic dermatologist in New York City.
- Dermatologist Scott Paviol, MD, practices in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Is There a Relationship Between Vitamin D and Hair Loss?
While vitamin D insufficiency is most commonly associated with mood, bone health, and the immune system in general, cosmetic dermatologist Michele Green believes it also plays a role in hair health (and loss).
“Keratinocytes metabolize vitamin D in the skin,” she explains, referring to skin cells that generate keratin, a protein important for keeping hair, skin, and nails looking (and feeling) their best. “When the body lacks Vitamin D, the keratinocytes in hair follicles have difficulty aiding hair development, resulting in shedding and hair loss,” she says.
While vitamin D insufficiency has been related to hair loss, it is unlikely to be the cause of loss for the majority of people who suffer from hair loss. While the data is mixed, some studies have suggested that vitamin D insufficiency may have a role in non-scarring alopecias such as telogen effluvium, androgenetic alopecia, and alopecia areata.
Do you believe you do not have non-scarring alopecia? You might want to reconsider. The non-scarring kinds of alopecia noted above, according to dermatologist Scott Paviol, are caused by frequent occurrences such as hair thinning owing to life stresses (telogen effluvium), age-related hair loss (androgenetic alopecia), and autoimmune hair loss (alopecia areata).
Hair Loss Causes That Are More Common
While many people may be suffering from vitamin D-related non-scarring alopecia and are unaware of it, Green claims that there are other additional causes of hair loss. She specifically mentions genetics, hormones, and big lifestyle changes (ie: during pregnancy, while processing trauma, undergoing surgery, etc.).
She does, however, state that the three most prevalent kinds of hair loss are telogen effluvium (described above), alopecia areata (also noted above), and Trichotillomania. While the first two are caused by a lack of vitamin D, Trichotillomania is an uncontrollable impulsive condition in which a person rips off their own hair.
“It can take six weeks to six months after a stressful incident for hair loss to occur,” Green explains, stressing that if Trichotillomania is present, and the hair does not fall out right away, it may fall out later. And, if not addressed early on with growth hormones (which your dermatologist might recommend), the loss may be persistent until the vitamin deficit is rectified.
Green claims that, aside from the most recognized reasons of hair loss, living in a physically harmful environment can also contribute to loss. “Studies have shown that chemicals and carcinogens in polluted air can disrupt the protein-producing systems within the body that encourage hair growth,” she says.
Because so many factors might be at work, Green believes that the best method to cure hair loss is to first identify the underlying cause. You don’t want to start treating your hair loss for the incorrect reason, after all. With this in mind, she strongly advises speaking with a professional dermatologist who will be able to analyze your problem and provide you with all of the finest treatment choices.
How to Treat Hair Loss Caused by Vitamin D?
First and foremost, ensure if your hair loss is caused by a vitamin D deficit. “Before you start treating suspected Vitamin D deficiency hair loss, I’d recommend seeing a dermatologist to get a good diagnosis,” Paviol advises, emphasizing that hair loss and thinning can be complicated and multifactorial. “I compare the scalp to a garden, and in order for the flowers to develop, you must guarantee that all of the necessary ingredients (vitamins and drugs) are in place.”
In addition to vitamin D levels, your doctor will be able to check iron levels, blood counts, and inspect your scalp to determine if there is anything else going on.
“If you are lacking in Vitamin D, I will suggest Vitamin D 1,000 IU daily for 12 weeks for most patients,” Paviol says. While supplements are an excellent approach to increase vitamin levels, Green advocates concentrating on a well-balanced diet (high in iron, omega-3 acids, magnesium, selenium, iodine, protein, vitamins, zinc, and biotin). After all, you are what you eat, and if you consume a plethora of hair-boosting vitamins and minerals, your mane will most likely reflect this.
However, if your vitamin D levels are low, Paviol suggests alternative, more intense ways to supplement the vitamin. They will be explained to you by your dermatologist.
The Bottom Line
Hair loss is common, although it can seem anything but at the moment. Fortunately, it’s an issue that may be alleviated with vitamin and mineral supplements. “Patients with hair loss frequently ask whether nutritional supplements will help restore hair growth or prevent additional hair loss,” adds Green. “Vitamins and minerals are essential for regular cell development and function, and deficiencies may contribute to hair loss.”
Green recommends speaking with a doctor before adding dozens of supplements to your regimen to verify you’re taking the appropriate dosage and addressing the right reason.