Which vitamin deficiency causes hair loss?
Hair loss or Alopecia is a common health condition that affects people across the gender spectrum. However, we are often wrong in calling it a problem because it is generally a symptom of some other underlying health or lifestyle problem. There are many factors that can cause hair loss like stress, heredity, aging, changes in hormone levels, other medical conditions, and nutritional deficiencies. Diet and sleep are the two most important parts of our life and if either of them is not in balance, it is bound to cause health issues. We normally lose 80-100 hair strands a day but anything above this can be called a hair loss condition. Generic Propecia or Finasteride helps in slowing down hair fall and can be helpful in mild to moderate hair loss cases. However, for a long-term solution, you need to pay attention to your diet. There are some essential vitamins that are crucial for hair growth and maintenance, here’s a list of them.
Alopecia areata, a hair loss condition that causes a person to lose hair in patches, is generally caused by vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is a stimulant for cell growth and therefore, it helps generate new hair follicles. It is also important for the overall immunity of our body and keeps our bones and skin healthy. The most common way to intake vitamin D is to bask in the sunlight but one may also eat certain foods and supplements to replenish its level in the body. A person between the age of 1 and 70 years requires a minimum of 15 micrograms 9 (mcg) or 600 IU of vitamin D per day. You may be deficient in this vitamin if you mostly stay indoors, always wear sunscreen, and don’t take vitamin D-rich food.
- Walk or sit in the sunlight for at least 15-20 minutes every day, preferably in the morning hours.
- Eat foods that contain higher levels of vitamin D like milk, fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, egg yolk, mushrooms, fortified cereals, and orange juice, etc.
- Take dietary supplements like multivitamin tablets but remember that they provide only about 400 IU of vitamin D. So, complementing it with your diet is absolutely necessary.
Interestingly, both deficiency and excess of this vitamin lead to hair fall. Lack of vitamin A in the body suppresses cell growth and makes the hair brittle. Vitamin A helps in sebum production in the scalp which maintains the moisture and nourishment in the hair. Its deficiency can make your hair frizzy and prone to breakage. Some foods rich in vitamin A are- spinach, carrot, milk, eggs, papaya, mango, sweet potato, fish oil, and other green leafy vegetables. Women need 700 mcg and men need 900 mcg of vitamin A per day. You may also take supplements for it but take care to not exceed the required amount.
Vitamin B complex
B vitamins are crucial for the functioning of the nervous system and maintaining the body’s metabolism. However, two B vitamins- B7 (biotin) and B12 (cobalamin) are said to be essential for hair growth. Some foods that contain vitamin B complex are- whole grains, milk, poultry, fish, vegetables, beans and pulses, nuts, etc. One may also use biotin supplements though there is not enough evidence to show that it increases hair growth.
Tocotrienol or vitamin E deficiency is a strong antioxidant and its deficiency has been noticed in some patients suffering from alopecia areata. Another study found that vitamin E supplements improve hair fall in alopecia areata patients. A few rich sources of this vitamin are- spinach, almonds, fish, and wheat germ oil. Vitamin E tablets are also available in the market but one should be careful in taking only the required amount.
There is not a lot of evidence to show that vitamin C maintains hair health. But its deficiency is known to cause corkscrew hairs. Citrus fruits, peppers, and green leafy vegetables are a few important sources of vitamin C. Supplements are also widely available.
Besides these vitamins, some mineral deficiencies can also lead to hair loss.
Iron deficiency constitutes one of the main reasons for hair loss in premenopausal women. It is an important mineral because it is required for hemoglobin production which carries oxygen to the hair follicles. Lack of iron will stunt hair growth. Some iron-rich foods include seafood, beans, and red meat. Iron supplements can also be taken with a doctor’s advice.
Zinc deficiency causes hair loss by changing the protein structure of our hair. It causes the old hair to fall before the new hair growth starts. Vitamin A and D are important to maintain zinc levels in the body, so remember to check their levels as well. Some important food sources of zinc are- pumpkin or melon seeds, red meat, soy products, etc.
Lack of selenium is rare but can lead to hypothyroidism that in turn causes hair loss. Sufficient intake of meat, nuts, and vegetables can prevent this deficiency.
These are the important vitamins and minerals which ensure healthy hair growth. If you think these are not enough, you can also take a Minoxidil 5 mg tablet that can help to promote blood flow to the hair follicles and help with hair growth. But remember to consult a doctor before taking any medications or supplements because their excess may cause other problems.