Hair loss may be caused by a variety of factors including genetics, hormonal imbalances, stress and medication. Hair loss can sometimes occur due to vitamin deficiency and low levels of vitamin D are certainly associated with this problem.

Vitamin D is an important nutrient that is vital to our health. It improves immunity, maintains healthy skin and bones, encourages cell growth and aids in the development of new hair follicles. Vitamin D is typically activated through sun exposure and is absorbed from the gut after eating specific foods. If necessary, you can increase your intake by taking dietary supplements.

Hair loss due to Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D is metabolized in the skin by keratinocytes. These are skin cells that process a protein in hair, skin and nails known as keratin, and they play an important part in regulating hair growth and shedding. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to the following hair loss conditions:

  • Telogen effluvium, also known as excessive hair shedding
  • Alopecia areata, an auto-immune condition where hair falls out in clumps, spots or patches
  • Female pattern hair loss
  • Generalized thinning of hair

Risk factors for developing a vitamin D deficiency include spending insufficient time in the sun, using a lot of sunscreen, darker skin tones, avoiding meals high in vitamin D, African American and Hispanic descent, gastric bypass surgery and obesity.

Other than hair loss, the following are some signs of low vitamin D levels:

  •  weak bones
  •  compromised immune system
  •  depression\fatigue
  •  sluggish wound recovery

Ways to improve vitamin D levels and reduce hair loss

Sun exposure

When exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) solar rays, your skin can synthesize this vitamin from cholesterol. Experts claim that most people can manufacture adequate vitamin D by exposing around 40% of their skin to the noon sun for at least 20 minutes without using sunscreen.

However, it could be challenging for people with darker skin to make enough vitamin D from the sun alone if they live more than 35 degrees above or below the equator or have darker skin. Other influencing factors to take into account include the season, height, cloud cover, and smog levels.

Additionally, the majority of physicians advise against prolonged sun exposure due to the elevated risk of skin cancer associated with prolonged UV exposure.


Diet and supplements

It is crucial to make sure your diet contains foods that are high in vitamin D or have been fortified with vitamin D for the reasons mentioned above. Fatty fish, mushrooms, fortified dairy or plant-based kinds of milk, eggs, liver, and various meats are a few examples.

For adults, the recommended daily/dietary intake (RDI) for vitamin D is currently established at 600 IU (15 mcg).

These recommendations, according to some experts, are much too low to maintain ideal vitamin D levels. Therefore it is recommended that your doctor examines your blood for vitamin D levels and determines how much supplementation is needed. The 30-100ng/mL range is often where optimal blood levels are found. A mild deficiency is typically characterized as a value below 20ng/mL, and a significant deficiency as one below 10ng/mL. A severe vitamin D insufficiency is defined as blood levels of less than 5ng/mL. Your doctor can advise hefty prescription doses if the levels are extremely low. A supplement with 800-4,000 IU (20-100 mcg) of vitamin D may be required if sunlight and diet alone are insufficient to maintain optimal blood vitamin D levels.