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5 Vitamin Deficiencies That Can Cause Hair Loss! (Research-Backed!)

Can vitamin deficiencies cause hair loss? Well, let’s see!

It’s happening. You see more hair stuck in your brush, clogged in the drain and fanned out on the floor than before. The worst part is when your scalp starts peeking through the hair. And you’re probably thinking – WHY ME? 😥  While you tend to blame your shampoo or weather etc. for the hair loss. The reason for the excessive hair fall, more often than not, is an issue pertaining to what’s happening inside your body. ‘You are what you eat’ always holds true. 

Some of the most common causes of hairloss include genetics, aging, poor diet, stress, dandruff, scalp conditions, childbirth, tight hairstyles and nutritional deficiencies. 

Our hair needs nutrients to thrive, grow and be healthy. While most of us get our daily nutrients from the regular diet, some vitamins are more prone to lack in the human body than others. And some of them can lead to hair loss in women. 

If you’ve noticed your hair falling out more than the usual and is thinning out, here are 5 most common vitamin deficiencies that can cause hair loss in women. 

Vitamin Deficiencies That Cause Hair Loss!

1. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that helps in the production of oxygen-rich red blood cells. These cells feed your hair follicles. As opposed to your hair strand, your hair follicles are very much alive. So you don’t feel anything during a haircut, but the same isn’t true for when you pull your hair out of the roots. 

The follicle gets all its nutrients to multiply and grow from papilla, the base of the follicle. Papilla has blood vessels through which they supply oxygen & nutrients to follicles. As B12 makes red blood cells, a deficiency can cause the hair to fall out and also prevent new hair strands from growing. 

This can lead to hair loss and hair thinning!

Apart from hair loss, vitamin B12 deficiency is also linked to premature gray hair. So if you’ve been noticing white hair along with hairfall, here’s a clear cut sign that you’re Vitamin B12 deficient. 

Lack of B12 in your body can also make you feel tired, low on energy, anxious and dizzy. Other symptoms include pale skin, mood changes, pins and needles and disturbed vision.  

How to treat Vitamin B12 deficiency? 

Get yourself checked. Depending on the levels of B12 in your blood, your doctor will recommend oral dosage of B12. Apart from supplements, you also need to eat foods that have an apt amount of B12. Only a limited number of foods are rich in these vitamins and there are no plant sources for B12. Foods that are rich in B12 include dairy, eggs, tuna, shrimp, sardines, chicken breast, liver and clams.  So if you are a vegetarian, only dairy and eggs are your source of B12. Vegans have to supplement daily or take a B12 injection regularly to meet their daily requirements

Also, those with Vitamin B12 deficiency are also highly likely to be iron deficient. This condition is called pernicious anemia. And brings us to the second deficiency that leads to hair loss. 

2. Iron

According to dermatologists, iron deficiency is the most common cause of hair loss in women. Iron aids in the production of red blood cells and haemoglobin. They help in carrying oxygen and nutrients to your body’s organs and tissues. 

When your body lacks iron, haemoglobin will deliver oxygen and nutrients to the essential organs first. This means papilla, and your hair follicles won’t receive them. This leads to excessive hair fall and hair thinning. Studies suggest that iron deficiency can play a role in hair fall that’s similar to male pattern baldness. [1

Other symptoms of iron deficiency include pale skin, breathlessness, cold hands and feet, dizziness and extreme fatigue. 

Do NOT take iron supplements without medical supervision, even if you’re iron deficient. Let your doctor prescribe you the supplement and treat the underlying cause, if any. To increase the absorption of iron, pair it up with a Vitamin C supplement or Vitamin C rich foods like orange juice, mosambi juice, capsicum, papayas, guavas and kiwis. 

Indian foods that are iron-rich include halim seeds (halim water) (get it here), poha, murmure, sesame seeds, bajra flour, masoor daal, moong daal, chawli or black eyed peas and gram flour. Other iron-rich foods include red meat, poultry, seafood, dark leafy vegetables, beas, chia seeds, apricots and raisins. 

3. Vitamin D

Enjoying the quarantine time indoors? Even when you step out once in a while, you lather on sunscreen. Then the cause of your hair loss is quite clear. It’s Vitamin D deficiency. A study conducted in India found female patients with diffuse hair fall to have significantly low levels of Vitamin D. [2] Another research paper showed female pattern baldness linked to low levels of Vitamin D. [3] As if all of that wasn’t enough, Vitamin D has also been linked to alopecia. [4]

What’s the link between Vitamin D and hair loss? Vitamin D plays a critical role in natural follicle formation – stimulating hair growth as well as strengthening the existing follicles. It also maintains the hair life cycle and delays aging (premature greying). Lack of Vitamin D disturbs hair follicle cycle and can lead to chronic female pattern hair loss. 

How to up your Vitamin D levels?

  • The best way to meet your daily Vitamin D requirement is sun exposure. Spend at least 15 to 30 minutes daily in the sun. Preferably during sunrise and sunset times, not during the midday. Don’t put any sunscreen on, not even SPF 8. Make sure your bare skin is exposed to the sun. You can wear a tank top and shorts. Doing this will make sure you’ve enough Vitaming D levels. 
  • Consume foods rich in Vitamin D. This includes fish, mushrooms, fortified milk, fortified orange juice, eggs and pork chops. 
  • For supplementation, please contact your doctor. To treat Vitamin D deficiency, doctors recommend 60,000 IU of vitamin once a week. Some daily supplements have around 100 to 200 IU of Vitamin D, which is an apt amount for a healthy individual. 

4. Biotin

Biotin is the most touted solution for hair growth and reducing hair fall. It’s also the most scientifically backed vitamin that improves hair health. [5] Biotin is actually a kind of B vitamin that’s present in almost all the hair vitamins and strongly recommended by dermatologists. However, biotin only treats hairfall due to deficiency and isn’t an effective cure for male or female pattern baldness or hair fall occurring due to reasons like hormonal imbalance or childbirth. 

So how does biotin help your hair? Biotin converts nutrients into energy. It plays a major role in rebuilding tissues and DNA repair. The vitamin significantly improves keratin infrastructure, which stimulates hair growth and makes them look more lustrous. Apart from hair, biotin can strengthen your nails as well and prevent them from breakage. 

How to up your biotin levels?

  • You can supplement with biotin. The most common dosage is 5 mg or 10 mg. Here’s a good ONLY biotin supplement you can purchase. Click here
  • As with all vitamins, natural sources are the best to fulfill your daily requirements. Some biotin rich foods include beef, eggs, salmon, almonds, avocado, sunflower seeds, spinach, broccoli, cheese, sweet potatoes, oats, milk and bananas

5. Folic Acid

Much of a pregnant woman’s pregnancy glow can be attributed to folic acid. The vitamin helps in healthy cell growth, which is super-important when you’re growing a baby inside you. Prenatal vitamins generally have a high amount of it. This is one of the precursors behind a pregnant woman’s healthy glow and shiny hair.

Folate also helps with production of RBCs, that carry oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body, including hair follicles. Without them, hair follicles can’t produce keratin, which are building blocks of hair. Supplementing or increasing your intake of folic acid will promote hair growth [6] and can also prevent premature greying. [7]

How to ensure you have adequate folate in your body? Supplements? We wouldn’t recommend that. Like iron, the best way to up your folate levels is through diet. Supplements should only be taken as a doctor’s recommendation. Indian foods high in folic acid are chana, rajma, masoor dal, moong dal, fali, sesame seeds and beetroot

Visit Your Doctor

For excessive hair loss, we’d advise a trip to the dermatologist as your first step. Most of them would be able to identify your deficiency with dietary habits and health history. Some might ask you to take tests before starting any supplementation. 

Good news is most of the hair loss due to vitamin deficiency is reversible. You will see new hair growth within one month of taking the medicines. It will take time to grow to the original length but at least the daunting hair fall phase will be over. 

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