Vitamin D and Hair Loss

Vitamin D….the skin…the bones…and hair quality

It’s complicated. Vitamin D (scientifically called cholecalciferol is an important fat-soluble substance commonly known as “the skin vitamin.” Research reveals that Vitamin D also plays a role also in the health of bones, teeth, and a host of other important biological functions. It may even factor in the prevention of some forms of cancer (e.g., prostate cancer in men). Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption in the intestines and enhances bone mineral content.

We produce Vitamin D when the sun’s ultraviolet rays act on the cholesterol located just under the skin. People of varying skin colors produce varying amounts depending on the season and distance from the equator. Darker people require more sun to produce Vitamin D, as the skin pigment melanin acts as filter to help prevent sunburn. In areas close to the equator where darker populations originate there is little Vitamin D deficiency. However, when people of darker complexions live in very northern or very southern latitudes (that is, away from the equator) there is less available sun and more of the body is covered, especially in the winter seasons.

Additional research has been done on Vitamin D and the skin and its deficiency in the form of rickets (weak bones—especially in children). There are very few natural dietary this vitamin, especially from plant foods. Contrary to popular lore, Vitamin D is not naturally a part of milk. For decades, it’s been added during milk processing as a way to get it into the American diet. Because many people of color are lactose intolerant, especially as adults, they do not consume dairy sources of Vitamin D. This is a particular problem in areas away from the equator such as in the United States, where many individuals actually need more Vitamin D. There was evidence of “insider” knowledge among people of color in the US whose grandmothers gave them cod liver oil (high in vitamins A & D) as children, which helped prevent rickets.

In large cities people of all race/ethnicity groups tend to need more Vitamin D in the winter because of the shadows cast by skyscrapers that dramatically lowers sun exposure on the very small amount of the body (mainly the face) exposed to the sun..

So…what does this have to do with hair? Current research has been showing that Vitamin D deficiency can, in fact, cause hair loss. It’s also been revealed in some cancer studies that applying Vitamin D ointments on the scalps of people who lost hair because of chemotherapy has shown some effectiveness in stimulating hair growth & recovery. The connection to hair quality is one of the newer areas of research on this vitamin and it appears that hair follicles can be stimulated to increase hair growth when Vitamin D levels are increased.

Depending on one’s age and sex, current recommendations for Vitamin D range from 5 micrograms (mcg) for children, and 10 – 20 mcg for adults. But some scientists believe that for disease prevention, as high as 2000 mg a day may be recommended. Too much Vitamin D can be toxic, however. It’s fat-soluble, which means it can be stored in the body, especially in the liver, in great concentrations. Because so few dietary sources are available, Vitamin D is one nutrient worth considering taking in supplement form for healthy hair and strong bones and teeth. Check with your physician (dermatologist) and/or nutritionist to find out if taking a Vitamin D supplement might be the right thing for you and at what dosage.

For further reading,

Science News

And if you can tolerate the scientific jargon:  Dermatology -This one is all about hair.

Vitamin D by:  Edward C. Jones

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11 responses to this post.

  1. Anu, what a timely and thought provoking article. As it turns out, my doctor suggested recently that I begin to take vitamin D for prevention of conditions as I age. Based upon his recommendations, I take a 5000 IU gelcap. They are tiny, but potent.

    He also shared with me that “vitamin” D is actually a hormone; the “vitamin” portion is a product of mislabeling. I have done a lot of research lately on D, and find that the more I read, the more I’m happy that it has become a part of my daily regime. There are also excellent videos on the benefits of D on youtube.

    Kind regards,

    Kristian

    Reply

    • Thank you Kristian,
      For your insights and for the link that you provided. Many more of us should definitely consider having our vitamin and mineral levels tested for deficiencies, especially us of a certain age. Thanks again.

      Reply

  2. Additionally, your readers might be interested in http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/

    Reply

  3. Posted by Charlene on March 5, 2010 at 10:52 am

    I really needed to read this article today. I am constantly struggling with my hair and hair loss. Thank you.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Shay on March 25, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Oh boy! I don’t get much sun at all because I’m never outside nor do i really like to be (live in the country and don’t like the bugs). I will from now on try to stand outside everyday for a bit to get my vitty D and for free lol of course. I knew that it came from the sun but i didn’t know how seriously important it was. Thanks for the info.

    I do get D from the almond milk that I drink. I love SILK Almond milk and it has a lot of added vitamins to it. However I will still stand outside and get it in its most natural form.

    Reply

  5. Posted by I'm glad I found this website now I can get info. on caring for my 4ab natural hair. on March 27, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    can take vitamin D and MSM at the same time?

    Reply

    • Hi Debbie,
      I’m not that familiar with MSM. Was it prescribed by a doctor at a higher dosage than is given to the general public? If so, he or she would be able to better guide you with whether or not you can or should combine these two. If you purchased it yourself as a supplement, then adding the vitamin D it should be fine.

      Reply

      • Posted by Debbie on June 9, 2010 at 8:17 pm

        I heard about the MSM on youtube that it was good for hair growth so I did buy some in capsule over the counter but I will be going to see a dermatologist for treatment.

        Thank you.

        Reply

  6. High blood levels of vitamins to also include magnesium and calcium. Magnesium is a good vitamin for high blood pressure and that this deficiency can cause blood pressure. It can also be found in green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, purslane, poppy seeds and green beans.

    Reply

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