Numerous factors can influence and expedite hair loss, including medical conditions, hormonal imbalances, genes, diseases, injuries, and emotional trauma. One of the most common culprits of hair loss, however, is vitamin and nutrient deficiency. Research has demonstrated connections between vitamin deficiency and multiple types of hair loss such as alopecia areata, telogen effluvium, and androgenic alopecia. In this short article, we discuss the many vitamin and nutrient deficiencies known to cause hair loss.
Vitamin D is closely associated with hair health because it is metabolized in the skin by keratinocytes, skin cells which process keratin. Keratin is a protein essential to the production and maintenance of hair, skin, and nails. When the body does not have enough vitamin D, keratinocytes can have a tough time producing enough keratin to keep hair strong and healthy.
Multiple studies have found vitamin D deficiency to be linked to a common type of hair loss known as alopecia. A 2017 study published in the Journal Of Molecular Sciences further revealed a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and other types of hair loss such as telogen effluvium, alopecia areata, and female pattern hair loss.
The body’s hair cells require a sufficient supply of vitamin A to grow and function. As such, vitamin A helps cells in the scalp produce enough sebum to keep the scalp and hair moisturized. Vitamin A deficiency, or hypovitaminosis A, has been shown to contribute to multiple types of hair loss, including alopecia areata. In addition to hair loss, other common signs of vitamin A deficiency include vision loss, night blindness, skin irritation, and infection.
As an antioxidant vitamin, vitamin E is able to reduce hair loss by mitigating oxidative stress within the scalp. A popular study published in the National Library of Medicine found that participants who took vitamin E supplements reported significantly less hair loss than those who took a placebo. The number of hairs in the group who took vitamin E supplements increased by 34.5% within 8 months, while those who did not take any supplement reported no new hair growth over the same period of time.
A balanced and healthy diet can prevent most children from developing a vitamin deficiency that causes hair loss. Though less common than other causes of hair loss, vitamin deficiencies have been found to result in hair loss in children. A lack of vitamin H, which works to convert carbohydrates into glucose, can prevent adequate nutrients from reaching children’s hair. Without enough zinc, children may also see hair loss due to a decrease in cellular metabolism.
Multiple studies have found a link between nutrient deficiency and chronic telogen effluvium, male pattern baldness, and female hair loss. In addition to hair transplants and other procedures, doctors often recommend nutrient supplements to help heal hair loss.
Iron deficiency is one of the most common forms of hair loss. Hair follicles rely on blood vessels to transport nutrients to keep the hair healthy, strong, and moisturized. Without enough iron, red blood cells may be unable to efficiently carry nutrients to the scalp and hair follicles, leading to hair loss.
Zinc is a vital nutrient that plays an essential role in protein synthesis within hair follicles. A lack of zinc can damage and weaken hair follicles which may cause them to break and fall out easily.
Biotin is an essential vitamin often found in eggs, milk, and bananas. Multiple studies have revealed the potential for biotin supplements to prevent hair loss and improve hair texture and consistency. A steady supply of biotin can also keep nails strong and healthy, and reduce blood sugar in people with diabetes.
Selenium functions similarly to zinc when it comes to hair loss. A lack of selenium can. Consuming too much of this essential nutrient can also contribute to hair loss. According to multiple studies, excessive selenium consumption can disrupt the hair cycle, resulting in the development of a condition known as telogen effluvium. This type of hair loss is characterized by the scalp responding severely to stress and losing as many as 70% of its hair follicles in the process.
Most cases of hair loss that occur due to vitamin deficiency are easily reversible by increasing your daily intake of vitamins and minerals. It should be noted, however, that it can take several months for hair to grow back after a long period of nutrient deficiency.
In addition to increasing vitamin intake, here are a few other ways to prevent hair loss due to vitamin deficiency.
Hair that occurs due to stress is known as telogen effluvium. In telogen effluvium, significant stress pushes multiple hair follicles into the resting stage, after which they begin to break down and fall out. Telogen effluvium is usually present for a few months before hair follicles begin to break. You can reduce stress by following a healthy diet, practicing mindfulness, spending more time participating in activities you enjoy, and increasing your physical activity.
Consuming a diet rich in vitamins, nutrients, proteins, and fats, can help the entire body function properly. A few of the best foods known to prevent hair loss include avocado, walnuts, salmon, and spinach.
Vitamin deficiency is a prevalent health condition that has many associated side effects. The United States Department Of Health estimates that as many as 92% of people in the country consume a diet deficient in at least one vitamin or nutrient.
The vitamins and nutrients that have been shown to be tied to hair loss include vitamin A, vitamin E, selenium, zinc, and iron. Not consuming enough of these essential nutrients can dry out the scalp, make hair follicles brittle, and contribute to telogen effluvium.