science

Medically Reviewed

Can Vitamins Help With Hair Loss? We Did the Research

a person holding out a hair brush with lots of hair on it

Hair loss is common and natural. Sometimes, though, preventable hair loss may be linked to vitamin deficiencies. Read on to learn more.

Hair loss is a normal part of life, typically happening as we age. Sometimes, though, hair loss can occur for preventable reasons. If you’d prefer to avoid too much premature hair loss, you may want to look into your vitamin intake. You can also manage hair loss through broader lifestyle adjustments, including eating a healthy, varied diet (fruits, veggies, protein, fats, carbs) and staying hydrated. Some other lifestyle adjustments can also help, including managing stress levels, getting enough sleep, and exercising.

Hair loss can also be associated with an underlying medical condition. If hair loss is troubling you, it’s best to talk to your doctor.

What is a vitamin deficiency?

There are 13 essential vitamins – A, C, D, E, K, and all the B vitamins – and your body needs them in order to function at an optimal level.

A vitamin deficiency occurs when you’re not getting the recommended daily intake of a particular vitamin. To determine whether you have a deficiency, you can watch out for the symptoms of particular deficiencies – or, most reliably, you can ask your doctor to conduct some blood work. The most common deficiencies measured through blood work are deficiencies in vitamin D, B12, folate, and iron.

What causes a vitamin deficiency?

Vitamin deficiencies can be caused by a number of factors. Sometimes they’re caused by digestive issues that prevent your body from absorbing the vitamins you’re consuming. Other times, you’re simply not getting enough through diet or supplements. If you’re eating a restricted diet, you may want to consider taking supplements. You also can’t underestimate the effect of stress. Too much oxidative stress can make it harder for your body to maintain healthy levels of the nutrients it needs.

Can vitamin deficiency cause hair loss?

Some vitamin deficiencies have been linked, however loosely, to hair loss. Consuming some vitamins in excess has also been linked to hair loss, as in the case of excess selenium, vitamin A, and vitamin E.

Vitamin deficiencies that may contribute to hair loss and hair thinning

Vitamin A

Dietary vitamin A has been shown to stimulate hair follicle stem cells, thus contributing to hair growth. That said, vitamin A deficiencies haven’t been linked to hair loss. Studies actually show that excess vitamin A can contribute to hair loss.

B Vitamins

The B vitamins help your body metabolize nutrients from foods. Studies show that riboflavin, biotin, folate, and vitamin B12 deficiencies can be linked with hair loss. Excess alcohol consumption and oxidative stress can both impact your body’s ability to absorb adequate amounts of B vitamins. People who eat vegan diets are at particular risk of vitamin B deficiency, since vitamin B is largely available through animal products. Care/of’s B-Complex vitamins are high quality and proven effective.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C affects hair loss insofar as it relates to iron absorption. Low iron has been linked to hair loss, and vitamin C helps the body absorb iron. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that can support your overall health and manage oxidative stress.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is surprisingly common, affecting up to 42% of the U.S. population. What does that mean for hair loss? Well, data from animal studies suggest that vitamin D plays a role in hair follicle cycling. Studies have also linked vitamin D levels with medical conditions related to hair loss. Vitamin D is created by your body in response to your skin’s being exposed to sunlight, and it’s also available in dietary and supplemental form. Care/of’s vitamin D supplement is easy to digest and designed for maximum absorption.

Iron

Iron deficiency is the world’s most common nutritional deficiency. That said, it is imperative that you have your iron levels tested by a doctor before using iron supplements. Excess iron can be toxic and dangerous. People at particularly high risk of iron deficiency include: premenopausal women (menstrual blood loss can contribute to the deficiency), people with absorption issues, people using certain medications, and people who eat plant-based diets.

When it comes to hair loss, some researchers believe that boosting your iron storage can improve hair loss; however, this research is not conclusive. The extent to which iron deficiency contributes to hair loss is unclear, based on existing research.

Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral. Low levels of zinc have been shown to impact thyroid function, which in turn can negatively impact hair health. Lower levels of zinc have been found in people experiencing hair loss and other hair issues. The exact mechanism of how zinc affects hair loss, however, is not well understood.

Selenium

Selenium is an essential trace mineral that helps promote your thryoid’s health and boosts glutathione levels. Selenium is widely available in many foods, including meat, vegetables, and nuts – more than enough to meet your daily requirement without supplementation. Ingesting excess selenium can lead to a number of health problems, including hair loss.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that may play a role in hair health. One study administered 100 mg daily of vitamin E to people experiencing hair loss and found that it may improve scalp health and balance oil production. Its antioxidant properties are also helpful in reducing oxidative stress. However, excess vitamin E has also been linked to hair loss. You should talk to a doctor about your particular needs.

Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are vitally important for your body’s health, particularly heart health. Fatty acid deficiencies can, in fact, present as hair changes, including loss of scalp and eyebrow hair, and the reduction of your hair’s thickness. In one patient, it was shown that applying safflower oil topically, high in linoleic acid (a fatty acid), resulted in hair growth. Additional research is needed with larger sample sizes.

Final takeaways

Hair loss is a normal part of life and is nothing to be ashamed of. Still, if you want to avoid premature or nutrient related hair loss, there’s evidence to suggest that certain vitamins can help you. You may also benefit from some lifestyle changes that promote overall health, including eating a healthy diet, managing stress levels, getting enough sleep, and exercising. If you have suspicions about particular nutrient deficiencies, talk to a doctor or registered dietician about getting your levels tested.

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