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Low Vitamin D & Hair Loss

by
author image Clay McNight
Clay McNight is currently a nutrition writer with Demand Media Studios.
Low Vitamin D & Hair Loss
Young man examining his hair in bathroom mirror. Photo Credit AND-ONE/iStock/Getty Images

Although losing up to 100 hairs per day from your scalp is normal, there may be a serious underlying cause if you are experiencing more severe hair loss. Vitamin D is an important nutrient that, when deficient, can contribute to a number of health issues. Among these, is the potential for hair loss.

Vitamin D Deficiency is Prevalent

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin produced when the sun converts a chemical in your skin into a form of vitamin D, which is then further converted into active vitamin D. Vitamin D is vital for human health and plays roles in bone health and the prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other conditions. According to Harvard Medical School, vitamin D deficiencies used to be rare, when people got regular sun exposure. In today's society, however, much of the work has shifted to indoor office jobs that allow for little sun exposure. As a result, vitamin D deficiencies are now very common in the U.S.

Hair Loss Basics

Some degree of hair loss is a normal. However, certain diseases including diabetes, thyroid problems and lupus can accelerate or worsen hair loss. Other factors that can play a role in hair loss include medications, stress, poor nutrition, genetics and low-protein diets. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the most common cause of hair loss is hereditary hair loss – also known as male/female-pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia – which affects approximately 80 million people in the United States.

A Possible Link

Telogen effluvium is the loss of hair due to excessive shedding – about 100 to 200 hairs per day. Among the possible causes of TE include vitamin D deficiency, notes a 2011 paper published in "Clinical, Cosmetic Investigative Dermatology. "One study published in "Skin Pharmacology and Physiology" in 2013 examined the relationship between serum levels of vitamin D and ferritin – a protein found in cells that allow them to store iron – and TE and female-pattern hair loss, in 80 females. The study concluded that low ferritin and vitamin D levels were associated with both types of hair loss. The study suggested supplementation as a possible treatment course.

Vitamin D and Supplementation

Hair loss is phenomenon still not fully understood by science. While low levels of vitamin D have been associated with some types of hair loss in clinical research, this does not establish a direct cause and effect relationship. For individuals who lack regular sun exposure and dietary vitamin D from fatty fish and fortified foods, vitamin D supplements can serve as an alternative. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions, as excessive vitamin D intake can cause side effects, including nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness, abnormal heart rhythms and mental confusion.

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