Many factors can contribute to hair loss, and malnourishment is one of them. Among the vitamins essential for healthy hair, vitamin E plays a key role in both the growth and maintenance of your locks. Adding vitamin E to your diet will not likely reverse your hair loss, but talk to your doctor about consuming the RDA of this vitamin, which will strengthen the tresses you have and possibly encourage new growth.
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Functions of Vitamin E
The primary function of vitamin E is to protect your cells from harmful free radicals, and it does this by acting as an antioxidant. Vitamin E also supports healthy immune system function by warding off bacteria and viruses, keeps your blood vessels wide to prevent clotting and contributes to many interactions between cells. Symptoms of a deficiency may include muscle weakness, impaired vision and an unsteady gait; a chronic deficiency can lead to problems in your kidneys and liver.
Vitamin E and Hair
Cell integrity is essential for healthy hair, and vitamin E works to stabilize the cell membranes in your hair follicles, thereby contributing to proper growth. Since free radicals can damage your hair cells as well as the other types of cells in your body, you need vitamin E to help protect them. This vitamin also works with the mineral selenium to ward off attacks on the cells in your follicles. Eating a diet that is poor in these and other nutrients can lead to hair loss, and your doctor can help you determine how to remedy this.
Sources and RDA
For adults over the age of 18, the RDA for vitamin E is 22.4 IU or 15 mg. You can get vitamin E through food items such as sunflower oil, nuts, seeds, green vegetables and some fortified breakfast cereals, juices and spreads. While it is best to get your RDA for vitamin E through foods, you can also take a vitamin E supplement, either in a multivitamin, or as a vitamin E-only pill. However, keep in mind that vitamin E-only supplements typically contain between 100 and 1,000 IU per pill, and this is significantly more than the RDA. Consuming high levels of vitamin E can increase your risk of bleeding, and your health care provider can discuss these risks with you.
Additional Causes of Hair Loss
There are several other causes of hair loss aside from vitamin deficiency, and these include side effects from certain medications or medical treatments, hormonal changes, scalp infections and conditions like alopecia areata, trichotillomania and telogen effluvium. If you experience sudden or excessive hair loss, seek medical attention to determine the cause, and follow your doctor’s recommendation for the course of treatment, which will vary according to the type of hair loss you are experiencing.