Vitamin Deficiency and Hair Loss
Hair loss, also known as alopecia, is a condition in which hair falls out from the scalp or other parts of the body. It can be a frustrating and distressing experience that affects both men and women of all ages. Hair loss can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, hormonal changes, medical conditions, medications, nutritional deficiencies, stress, and poor hair care. Symptoms of hair loss can include thinning hair, receding hairline, or complete baldness. In some cases, hair loss may be accompanied by other symptoms such as itching, redness, or soreness on the scalp.
However, have you ever thought that the root cause of your hair loss may be a lack of certain essential vitamins in your diet? Recent research has revealed that a deficiency in certain vitamins may be the leading cause of hair loss. Vitamins are essential organic compounds that are required in small amounts to sustain life and support normal growth and development.
They are necessary for the proper functioning of many bodily processes, including metabolism, immune function, and cell growth and repair. Vitamin deficiency occurs when the body does not receive enough of a specific vitamin, leading to a variety of health problems, and hair loss is one of them. Following are the vitamins that can contribute to hair loss.
Vitamin A and Hair Loss:
Vitamin A is a crucial vitamin for maintaining healthy hair. Vitamin A is required for the production of sufficient sebum or scalp oil.  Without adequate sebum, the scalp will become dry and dandruff may develop. A lack of sebum will result in hair that is dry, brittle, and prone to breaking. All of these disadvantages will lead to hair loss.
Research in murine studies has shown that vitamin A can help activate hair growth by stimulating hair follicle stem cells. However, too much vitamin A can have a negative effect and lead to hair loss. In humans, taking too much vitamin A through supplements can cause a condition called hypervitaminosis A which can lead to hair loss and other issues such as changes in the skin, vision, and bones.
According to a study, a 60-year-old man who took high levels of vitamin A supplements (vitamin A toxicity) was found to have non-scarring frontal-central alopecia and decreased pubic and axillary hair development. Additionally, this increased intake led to liver failure. 
Vitamin A toxicity can result from exceeding the recommended daily limit of 10,000 IU.
Vitamin B and Hair Loss:
The Vitamin B complex is a group of eight essential water-soluble vitamins that play a crucial role in maintaining various bodily functions such as cell growth and metabolism. Among these vitamins, B2 (Riboflavin), B7 (Biotin), B9 (Folate), and B12 (Cobalamin) are particularly important for the health of hair.
Vitamin B2 Hair Loss:
Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is a component of two key coenzymes: Flavin mononucleotide (FMN) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD),  and hence plays a crucial role in cellular development, fat metabolism, energy production, and hair growth.
A deficiency of riboflavin in your body has been shown in studies to cause hair loss,  although supplementing typically fixes it.
Adults should consume 1.1 mg of riboflavin for women and 1.3 mg for men per day. 
Vitamin B7 and Hair Loss:
Another name for Vitamin B7 is Biotin. it is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids. It is also known to play a role in the health of the skin, hair, and nails. Biotin can help to increase the production of keratin, which is a structural protein that makes up the hair shaft. 
Biotin deficiency is rare, but its deficiency can lead to thinning of the hair and alopecia.  Research has shown that biotin supplementation improved hair growth in individuals with hair loss caused by a biotin deficiency. 
An adequate intake of biotin for adults is 30 mcg/day in U.S. populations. 
Vitamin B9 and Hair Loss:
Folate, which is another name for vitamin B9, is important for hair growth and brain health. It may also help by making red blood cells better at carrying oxygen and restoring normal immune responses. Numerous hair problems may come from vitamin B9 deficiency.
For example, one of the studies found that people with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that causes patches of hair loss, are more likely to be deficient in folate. Similarly, 52 prematurely graying adults were analyzed. Folic acid and vitamins B-7 and B-12 were deficient, according to the study.  A more recent study from 2017 found that people with female pattern baldness and telogen effluvium have a very high prevalence of folate deficiency. 
There hasn’t been a lot of research on how folate affects hair growth, but some studies have shown that folate and B12 may help hair follicles grow. 
It is suggested that adults should eat 400 mcg of folate every day.
Vitamin B12 and Hair Loss:
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy hair. This essential nutrient is vital for the production of red blood cells, which transport oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles. A deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to anemia, which can reduce blood flow to the hair follicles, causing hair to grow slower, and become weaker, brittle, and thin.
Furthermore, it can also affect the color of hair. A case-control study involving 52 Indian patients aged 20 years or older who had early hair graying and controls, was conducted. The levels of biotin, folic acid, and vitamin B12 were measured and compared in both groups. The findings of the study revealed a lack of folic acid and vitamin B12 in the patients.
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that we must consume in our diet. Our bodies cannot produce it on their own. It is mainly found in animal foods, but it is also fortified in non-animal products for vegetarians. Studies have shown that iron, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 are essential nutrients for maintaining a healthy diet, and can delay the onset of gray hair.
The best strategy to prevent hair loss brought on by vitamin B12 deficiency is to consume a diet high in this vitamin. However, it is preferable to take vitamin B12 pills if you experience excessive hair loss.
Adults 14 and older should consume 2.4 micrograms of Vitamin B12 daily as per Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA).
Vitamin C and Hair Loss:
Ascorbic acid, commonly known as Vitamin C, is essential for strong and healthy hair. It acts as an antioxidant, protecting the hair from damage caused by free radicals. Additionally, vitamin C plays an important role in collagen synthesis,  a protein that is vital for strong and flexible hair strands. A lack of collagen can lead to hair breakage and hair loss.
Furthermore, vitamin C is important for maintaining healthy hair since it helps to combat iron deficiency by assisting in the absorption of iron from food in the digestive tract. This results in stronger and healthier hair.  By helping the body absorb iron, vitamin C ensures that the hair follicles receive the necessary oxygen and nutrients for healthy growth.
According to the Food and Nutrition Board, the suggested daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for males. 
Vitamin D and Hair Loss:
Vitamin D also known as “Sunny Vitamin” can be obtained from food, but it is also made in the skin when it is exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Vitamin D is important because it helps cells communicate, helps the body absorb calcium, and makes bones stronger. One of the most important vitamins for hair growth and thickness is vitamin D.
Moreover, vitamin D helps control the growth and development of cells in the skin called keratinocytes. It does this by attaching to a special protein in the cells called the nuclear vitamin D receptor VDR. These keratinocytes form the hair shaft, which will push up through the skin and eventually be visible as hair. Studies have shown that these receptors are most active in a certain stage of hair growth called the anagen stage.  This suggests that vitamin D plays an important role in the growth and development of hair.
Low levels of vitamin D can make your hair fall out in different ways. For example, telogen effluvium (excessive shedding of hair), male pattern baldness (decrease of scalp terminal hairs and developing “M” shape hairline over time), and female pattern hair loss (loss of hair starting from the center to all over your head) have been linked to not getting enough vitamin D. Some research has linked low vitamin D levels to this kind of hair loss and found that the lower the levels of vitamin D, the more severe the hair loss.,
Similarly, A 2018 systematic review examined 14 trials including 1,255 alopecia areata (hair began to fall out in round patches) patients and 784 controls. It was discovered that patients with alopecia had significantly lower amounts of vitamin D than those without. The typical growth cycle of hair follicles may be disturbed by low vitamin D levels.,
To boost vitamin D production, get 15–20 minutes of sun three times a week. Also, vitamin D is present in salmon, eggs, and margarine. Low vitamin D levels may require vitamin D supplementation, especially for vegans and lactose-intolerant people.
The Dietary recommendation for Vitamin D for adults age 14 and more is 600 IU. 
Vitamin E and Hair Loss:
Vitamin E is a vital antioxidant that helps protect hair from damage caused by oxidative stress. Even though there isn’t much research on the benefits of vitamin E supplements for hair loss, a small study found that people with fine hair may benefit from taking vitamin E supplements. The study found that the number of hair strands grew by 34.5% in people who took 100 milligrams of vitamin E every day for eight months, while those who did not take the supplements saw a 0.1% decrease.
Also, a study by Ramadan and his colleagues found that people with alopecia areata (AA) had much lower levels of vitamin E in their blood and tissues than healthy controls.  But more research is needed to fully prove the link between low levels of vitamin E and a lot of hair loss.
The recommended daily dosage of Vitamin E for adults is 15 mg 
Other Deficiencies Associated with Hair Loss
Other minerals that play a role in hair health include:
Iron: Iron is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the hair follicles (as described above). An iron deficiency can lead to hair loss. According to studies, iron deficiency may contribute to female pattern hair loss as well as worsen or develop early male pattern baldness.,
Zinc: Zinc is involved in the production of collagen and keratin, both of which are important for hair health. Zinc prevents dry, flaky scalp and dandruff. Its deficiency causes poor growth and loss of hair. One study compared zinc and copper levels in 312 patients with alopecia areata, telogen effluvium, and male and female pattern baldness to a control group without hair loss. The hair loss group had far lower mean serum zinc, while both groups had equivalent serum copper. This suggests zinc metabolic abnormalities may cause hair loss. 
Selenium: Selenium is an antioxidant that helps protect the hair from damage caused by free radicals. It also produces seleno-proteins, which promote the growth of keratinocytes. Reduced hair growth may occur if you are selenium deficient. Few studies have looked into the connection between selenium insufficiency and alopecia in humans. There was a case report of a child with thinning hair that was helped by dietary supplementation.
Proteins & Amino acids: Protein deficiency can contribute to hair loss because hair is made mostly of a protein called keratin. A diet that does not provide enough protein can result in weak, brittle hair that is more prone to breakage. Similarly, its deficiency, as seen in conditions like kwashiorkor and marasmus, can cause changes to the hair, including thinning and hair loss. 
Fatty Acids: Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential fatty acids that reduce inflammation and aid hair growth. Also, without polyunsaturated essential fatty acids, your hair will fall out. This is because these fatty acids control how much androgen is made. Androgen is a male sex hormone that is linked to hair loss. In addition, research shows that arachidonic acid, a type of omega-6 fatty acid, helps hair grow. ,
“Managing Hair Loss: Tips and Techniques”
Here are a few ways to cope with hair loss due to vitamin deficiency:
- Start by evaluating your diet and making sure you are getting enough of the essential vitamins and minerals your hair needs to stay healthy. Consume a balanced diet that includes foods rich in vitamins and minerals, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins
- Stress can make you lose your hair. However, hair loss due to stress is usually temporary and can be reversed through exercise, yoga, meditation, or other stress-management techniques. 
- Consider taking daily a multivitamin or supplement specifically formulated to support hair health. These supplements can provide the nutrients your hair needs to stay strong and healthy. Some key vitamins and minerals to focus on include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, iron, zinc, and biotin.
- Additionally, it has been demonstrated that massaging the scalp makes your hair thicker overall.  Trying natural remedies such as massaging the scalp with essential oils or using aloe vera gel as a hair mask could be helpful.
- Avoid harsh hair treatments such as excessive heat styling or chemical processing, which can damage your hair and can make it more prone to breakage. Also, hair loss and brushing are related. Reducing the frequency of brushing may help to minimize the amount of hair shed. 
- Lastly, be gentle with your hair, use fewer hair styling products, and wash your hair gently You shouldn’t wash your hair more than once every day. On the other hand, very dry hair could just require weekly shampooing.
If you continue to experience hair loss, it’s a good idea to consult with a dermatologist or nutritionist to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to the problem. They may recommend additional treatment options, such as topical medications or hair growth supplements.
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