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Unlock the Secret: Vitamin D and Hair Loss Connection

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin produced when the skin is exposed to natural sunlight. This critical nutrient is involved in regulating numerous physiological processes.


Vitamin D plays a vital role in immune system function and hormone balance—both of which impact hair growth.


Research suggests that vitamin D deficiency can significantly increase the risk of hair loss, baldness, and alopecia.


Take a closer look at the link between vitamin D deficiency and hair loss, and find out how to maintain healthy vitamin D levels.

Female hair loss

Causes of vitamin D deficiency


Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common—it’s believed that around 60 percent of U.S. adults are at risk of low vitamin D levels or are vitamin D deficient.


Because vitamin D production is only triggered in response to ultraviolet B (UVB) sunlight radiation, individuals that have little to no sun exposure or live in a region without adequate sunshine are at an increased risk of insufficient vitamin D. 


However, there are several other hidden reasons for vitamin D deficiency, including genetic predisposition, gallbladder issues, skin tone, and the use of prescription medications, including antibiotics and corticosteroids.


Watch the video below to discover how optimal vitamin D levels support healthy hair growth. 


Can vitamin D deficiency cause hair loss?


Research suggests that vitamin D plays a crucial role in regulating hair follicle function and that vitamin D deficiency can lead to androgenetic alopecia, a common form of hair loss that increases the risk of male pattern baldness and female hair loss.


Hair follicles are mini-organs that grow hair shafts and anchor them deep into the skin. Each follicle contains sebaceous glands that secrete oils to nourish hair and produce antimicrobial substances to protect the scalp from bacterial infections. 


Hair follicles have an unusual ability to completely renew themselves and go through a process called hair follicle cycling. This four-phase cycle stimulates new hair growth, triggers the shedding of old hair strands, and is crucial for skin renewal and wound healing. 


Vitamin D has been found to directly stimulate normal hair follicle cycling, explaining why vitamin D deficiency can impact hair health and lead to patchy hair loss, thinning hair, and baldness.


In addition, vitamin D is a crucial nutrient for balanced immune responses, and low vitamin D levels can increase the risk of autoimmune hair disorders, including alopecia areata. This condition is characterized by inflamed and damaged hair follicles, resulting in partial or complete loss of body hair. 


This study suggests that hair loss treatments should focus on restoring potential vitamin D deficiencies and that vitamin D supplementation has been found to stimulate hair growth and promotes the formation of new hair follicles.

Hair follicle illustration

Other symptoms of low vitamin D


Almost all cell types in the human body have vitamin D receptors, indicating that vitamin D regulates normal cell function throughout the body. Unsurprisingly, low vitamin D levels can result in a wide range of health issues.


Here are some common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency: 

  • Depression

  • Weakened immune system 

  • Increased risk of autoimmune disease 

  • Fatigue 

  • Disrupted sleep and insomnia 

  • Muscle weakness 

  • Brittle bones


Vitamin D suppresses cytokines, a group of inflammatory proteins that, if chronically elevated, can cause damage and inflammation to cells and DNA. This explains why prolonged periods of vitamin D deficiency are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancers, including breast, colon, and skin cancer.     



How do I know if I have low vitamin D?


Vitamin D deficiency symptoms typically develop slowly and can be challenging to identify. However, given that almost 40 percent of U.S. adults are vitamin D deficient, there is a high probability that you also are at risk of low vitamin D levels. 


Even if you benefit from plenty of sunlight, you can still be at risk of insufficient vitamin D, particularly if you have a darker skin tone, take steroid medication, or suffer gastrointestinal conditions, including Crohn’s disease or celiac disease. 


Bodyweight is another factor that can impact your vitamin D status. Overweight or obese individuals typically require higher amounts of vitamin D to support adequate blood levels. Vitamin D is stored in fat cells, and large amounts of body fat trap active vitamin D, lowering blood concentration levels and impacting vitamin D-regulated pathways.  


The most reliable way to determine your vitamin D status is by performing a simple blood test to measure serum vitamin D levels. Most clinical laboratories offer vitamin D screening tests, and convenient at-home tests are available in most pharmacies. 


While reference ranges can vary, the National Institute of Health (NIH) suggests that levels of 50 nmol/L and above reflect adequate vitamin D levels for most people.  

Vitamin D supplement held against the sun

How to replenish vitamin D


Adequate UVB radiation is needed to stimulate vitamin D production. However, only areas near the equator benefit from year-round UVB radiation, and relying on sunlight alone to maintain healthy vitamin D levels may not be enough.  


While there are some dietary sources of vitamin D, including fatty fish, egg yolks, and organ meats, these foods typically contain only minimal amounts and won’t support a healthy vitamin D status.  


Supplementation is an easy and effective way to treat vitamin D deficiency. Cod liver oil is a rich source of vitamin D and has been shown to correct low vitamin D levels. 


While general recommendations suggest taking a supplemental dosage of 600 IU of vitamin D daily, this may not be enough vitamin D to support healthy levels if you have a genetic predisposition to low vitamin D status or limited sunlight exposure.  


Depending on your physiology, maintaining healthy vitamin D levels can require up to 10,000 IU of vitamin D per day. However, vitamin D accumulates in body fat, and taking large doses can cause adverse health effects. To get the benefits of vitamin D without toxicity, it’s best to perform regular blood tests.


Some dietary supplements contain vitamin D2, a synthetic and less potent form of vitamin D. To get the most effective vitamin D supplement, choose products made with vitamin D3, the same powerful form produced in the skin in response to sun exposure.   

Man worrying about hair loss

Key takeaways


Vitamin D deficiency is common and has been linked to disrupted hair follicle cycles, hair loss, thinning hair, and baldness.


Research shows that vitamin D supplementation can correct deficiencies and may be an effective hair loss treatment for various vitamin D-related hair disorders.


Regular blood tests can determine vitamin D status and guide appropriate dosages to prevent further hair loss and restore hair growth.



FAQ


1. Will vitamin D help my hair grow back?

If hair loss is caused by a lack of vitamin D, supplementation with vitamin D3 may promote hair regrowth and stimulate hair follicle proliferation.


2. How long does it take for vitamin D to improve hair loss?

How long it takes for vitamin D to improve hair loss depends on many factors, including how long the vitamin D deficiency has been present, supplementation dosage, age, and severity of hair loss.


While in some cases, hair regrowth can occur within two months; it can take up to six months of supplementation to see noticeable improvements in hair growth.


3. Does hair loss from vitamin D deficiency grow back?

Vitamin D-related hair loss typically grows back once vitamin D levels are restored to healthy levels.


It’s important to note that vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, and it can take up to three months to correct a deficiency with vitamin D supplementation. This explains why it can take a considerable amount of time for hair regrowth to occur.

    

4. Why does vitamin D deficiency cause hair loss?

Vitamin D regulates many aspects of the hair growth cycle, promotes hair follicle health, and modulates sebaceous gland functions. Lack of adequate vitamin D can lead to disrupted hair follicle regeneration, thinning of hair, and excessive shedding. 


In addition, vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of autoimmune responses and lead to the development of alopecia areata, an autoimmune hair disorder characterized by partial or complete loss of body hair.


5. How much vitamin D should I take for hair loss?

How much vitamin D you should take depends on your vitamin D levels, average sunlight exposure, health status, and skin tone. 


The NIH suggests taking 600 IU of vitamin D daily. However, if you are severely deficient, you may require significantly higher doses of vitamin D to achieve and maintain healthy blood levels. 


6. Can vitamin D supplements cure hair loss?

If hair loss is related to low vitamin D levels, supplementation can be effective in preventing further hair loss, promoting hair regrowth, and supporting the formation of new hair follicles.


7. Can too much vitamin D cause hair loss?

Yes. Vitamin D increases the intestinal absorption of calcium, and elevated vitamin D levels can result in excessive calcium, also known as hypercalcemia. Hypercalcemia can cause soft tissue calcification and lead to calcified plaque formation on the scalp, which blocks hair follicles and results in hair loss.

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