If nutrition were a classroom, vitamin D would be the teacher’s pet, always going above and beyond while making everyone else in the class look like they’re falling behind.
But unlike the annoying Goody Two-shoes, you want vitamin D around as much as possible.
Unfortunately, due in large part to poor diet and an overall lazier lifestyle (on average), many humans aren’t getting the vitamin D they need. Low vitamin D symptoms can include a wide range of adverse effects. Signs of vitamin D deficiency can even include hair loss.
Luckily for us, it doesn’t take much to see the light when trying to take care of your vitamin D deficiency.
Low Levels of Vitamin D May Be the Root of Your Hair Loss
Before we dive into the reasons why vitamin D deficiency and hair loss are related, it’s important to understand just how amazing vitamin D and its effect on the human body can be, when you get enough of it.
How Do We Get Vitamin D?
Unlike any other vitamin, vitamin D can be created by the human body. Here’s how that happens:
- Our skin absorbs sunlight.
- Our bodies use the sunlight and cholesterol in our blood to create vitamin D.
- The vitamin D is sent to the liver, where it’s converted to a form that can be dispersed throughout the body within our blood.
- Tissues around the body absorb and convert it to activated vitamin D.
Even better, you don’t need to spend hours basking at the beach; getting just 15–20 minutes per day on your face, hands, arms, and legs can make a huge difference in the amount of vitamin D your body is able to produce.
Plus, vitamin D is in a lot of the everyday foods we eat, like milk, eggs, and even some cereals. That makes getting enough vitamin D a pretty easy chore for everyone to keep up with.
Why Are Some People Vitamin D Deficient?
For many people, the chance to get some good ole’ sunlight isn’t a given, whether they have dark skin, live in the far north, or are stuck absorbing fluorescent beams in an office building all day.
But it doesn’t always come down to your ability to catch some rays. Vitamin D deficiency can have several medical causes, including:
- Diseases like Crohn’s or celiac disease: These maladies affect the way our bodies absorb nutrients, making it very difficult for sufferers to get what they need out of their diets.
- Medications: Treatments for HIV can block your body’s interaction with vitamin D, as can antifungals, glucocorticoids, and anticonvulsants.
- Diet: While vitamin D deficiency is often avoidable by eating a relatively healthy diet, many processed foods don’t contain vital nutrients like vitamin D, so those that rely on fast food may need to start shopping for some vitamin d supplements today!
What’s So Great about Vitamin D?
- Cellular communication: Every cell in your body has a vitamin D receptor, the only vitamin that can say that. This makes vitamin D a vital step in the communication chain between your cells.
- Bone strength and growth: Bones need the phosphorus and calcium within our bodies to properly grow and fortify themselves. The two cling to the fat-soluble vitamin D as it’s absorbed by our livers and is then sent to our bones. This is why a vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets and osteoporosis.
If that weren’t enough to make you want to start checking your vitamin D levels, the next section certainly will.
Vitamin D and Your Precious Hair Follicles
Yes, that’s right: a vitamin D deficiency can lead to hair loss.
If we didn’t have your attention before, we probably do now.
Low vitamin D and hair loss are related because, when absorbed by the scalp, vitamin D stimulates the follicles at the roots, ensuring they stay in an active, or anogen, phase. When your vitamin D levels get too low, your follicles can start to shrink. Eventually, it’ll cause them to go into a resting phase, causing hair loss.
In extreme cases, low vitamin D levels are even thought to cause alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder than can manifest with patches of total hair loss. In these cases, each follicle within an area completely shuts down, often in clusters just a few inches around.
Symptoms of Having Low Vitamin D
You probably won’t notice your low vitamin D levels at first, but an unchecked vitamin D deficiency is often impossible to ignore as the results can be catastrophic and life-altering.
Here are just some vitamin D deficiency symptoms:
- Inhibited brain development
- Impaired lungs and airways
- Interrupted muscle function
- Type-I and -II diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Diminished wound healing
- Multiple sclerosis
- Hair loss
- Chronic pain
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of bone density
- Frequent fractures
- General health
How to Treat Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D supplements are easy to find. You shouldn’t have to look any further than your supermarket. And they generally come in two forms:
- Vitamin D2: This is usually similar to the vitamin D that is gained from food
- Vitamin D3: This is the form of vitamin D that is most natural and similar to the vitamin D received from the sun. As such this is the most preferred form of supplementing vitamin D.
Vitamin D3 is the more potent of the two and can raise vitamin D levels in your blood more quickly than the other form. For reference, the US Institute of Medicine suggests taking between 400–800 IU of vitamin D per day, although those battling a vitamin D deficiency may be required to consume up to 4000 IU of vitamin D per day under doctor’s orders.
If you’re looking to fight hair loss that’s been caused by vitamin D deficiency, don’t rely on one treatment alone. Instead, realize that promoting hair growth is a holistic approach, making most of our body’s toxic imbalances treatable through healthy lifestyle shifts.
Supplementing with vitamin D for hair loss, however, can provide drastic improvements that might be noticeable in all aspects of your life.
Foods with Vitamin D
Instead of heading straight to your local vitamin store and picking up some vitamin D3, you may want to try some natural alternatives first. Vitamin D (D2 and D3) can be found in:
- Some varieties of mushrooms
- Fatty fish
If you’re looking for an all-natural vitamin D supplement, give cod liver oil a try—it packs more than 300 IU in every tablespoon.
But always keep in mind, the most sure-fire way to fight back a vitamin D deficiency is with some straight-up sunshine that won’t cost you a dime. Studies show that 30 minutes in the sun provides the equivalent of 10,000–20,000 IU of vitamin D. Now, those are some impressive vitamin D levels.
A vitamin D deficiency is a serious thing, and oftentimes hair loss is one of its milder symptoms.
Taking a vitamin D supplement to ensure you’re getting the right amount each day is a great way to improve your overall health, especially if you begin before seeing signs of a vitamin D deficiency.
Luckily for us, taking a vitamin D supplement can be as easy as enjoying a stroll outside on a nice and sunny day.