An Overview of Vitamin Deficiencies That Cause Hair Loss

August 27, 2021

There are lots of reasons that you might be experiencing hair loss, including genetics, a hormonal imbalance, immune disorder, emotional trauma, side effects from medications, and more. 

But another common reason that you might notice thinning or the loss of some of your hair is diet.

Building healthy, strong hair requires a variety of vitamins and minerals. If you're not getting enough of certain essential nutrients in your diet, you may experience hair loss. The good news is that making changes to your diet and even taking supplements can help to reverse this type of hair loss, and you may not have to seek out more serious hair loss treatments.  

What is Normal Hair Loss?

The average person loses between 50 and 100 strands of hair every day. While this may sound like a large number, remember that you have around 100,000 or so hair follicles, so losing this much hair shouldn’t be very noticeable and is a normal part of the hair growth cycleWhen new hair is being grown, old hair must be shed in order to make room; however, how much hair is lost, the pattern in which it is lost, and whether or not hair returns in the same spot will all vary from person to person. 

Genetics play the single most important factor in dictating the severity and timeliness of when you might experience hair loss. While there isn’t a single cure for these inherited traits, there are some treatments for hair loss that have proven effective in slowing, stopping and even reversing hair loss. 

Other causes of hair loss can be self-induced, like vitamin deficiencies...which are also much easier to treat.  

Nutrition and Hair Loss

Depending on your diet, you may be lacking some of the vitamins, nutrients, and minerals vital to hair loss.

Making a few changes to your diet, or taking the right supplements, can help to reverse hair loss. 

Calcium

Calcium is an important mineral for hair growth. A deficiency in calcium can quickly lead to brittle nails and hair. If you notice that your hair has suddenly become thinner and is falling out more than usual, it could be a sign that your body has a calcium deficiency. 

The best foods to help improve calcium levels include:

  • Almonds
  • Beans 
  • Cheese
  • Edamame 
  • Figs
  • Lentils
  • Milk
  • Rhubarb
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Seeds
  • Spinach
  • Tofu
  • Whey protein
  • Yogurt

Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids, like omega-3, are responsible for regulating a variety of natural functions. 

For example, they can activate hair growth, provide hair strength, and nourish the hair follicles by supplying proteins. They can also help to prevent follicle inflammation that can result in hair loss

Foods that are high in Omega-3 include:

  • Anchovies
  • Caviar
  • Chia seeds
  • Cod liver oil
  • Flax seeds
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Oysters
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Soybeans
  • Walnuts

Iron

Your body needs iron to create hemoglobin, which is responsible for carrying oxygen to your cells. If your body does not have enough iron, it will only carry oxygen to your vital organs and not your hair follicles. This means that your hair won’t be getting enough of the nutrients that it needs to grow, and can result in hair loss

Some foods that contain high levels of iron include:

  • Broccoli
  • Dark chocolate
  • Fish
  • Legumes
  • Liver
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Red meat 
  • Shellfish
  • Spinach
  • Tofu
  • Turkey

Selenium

Another important trace element is selenium, which participates in the synthesis of over 35 different proteins in your body. 

Selenium is important for your hair for a few reasons, such as:

  • It helps to destroy fungus that can cause dandruff on your scalp
  • It helps with the production of thyroid hormones, which help to control the growth of hair
  • It helps to neutralize free radicals that can weaken and damage hair follicles

Some of the the best foods that contain selenium include:

  • Baked beans
  • Bananas
  • Beef
  • Brazil nuts
  • Brown rice
  • Cashews
  • Chicken
  • Cottage cheese
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Ham
  • Lentils 
  • Mlik
  • Mushrooms
  • Oatmeal
  • Pork
  • Spinach
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Turkey
  • Yogurt

Vitamin A

Your cells require vitamin A in order to properly grow, and vitamin A will also help your immune system, vision, skin, teeth, kidneys, lungs, bones, and reproductive system. Hair loss can be the result of too much vitamin A...or not enough, so be careful that you find the right balance. 

Some foods that are rich in vitamin A include:

  • Beef liver
  • Black eyed peas
  • Broccoli
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Dried apricots
  • Herring
  • Mango
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potato
  • Sweet red pepper
  • Tomato juice

Vitamin B

Another vital building block for hair is vitamin B. This list includes several vitamin B variations that can all have an influence on hair loss. 

For example, B7 is known as biotin, B2 is known as riboflavin, and B9 is known as folate or folic acid. Each of these B vitamins will play an important role in the overall health of your hair, with biotin (B7) being the most important. This vitamin is responsible for hair growth in general and will support healthy hair if consumed in the right quantity. In addition, vitamin B12 supports the production of red blood cells, which are rich in oxygen and help to feed hair follicles, keeping them alive and healthy. 

In order to supply your body with enough of the various B vitamins, eat some of the following foods:

  • Almonds
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Barley
  • Beans 
  • Broccoli
  • Brown rice
  • Cheese
  • Citrus fruits
  • Eggs 
  • Fish
  • Kale
  • Lentils
  • Millet
  • Milk
  • Poultry
  • Red meat
  • Spinach
  • Sunflower seeds

Vitamin C

Another vitamin with strong antioxidant qualities is vitamin C. This vitamin helps to diminish the harmful influence of free radicals that have a negative impact on hair growth and aging, along with helping in the production of collagen, an important element that contributes to more intensive hair growth. 

Good sources of vitamin C include:

  • Blackcurrants
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Chili peppers
  • Kale
  • Kiwi
  • Lemons
  • Oranges and orange juice
  • Potatoes
  • Strawberries

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for the development of bones and teeth while also helping your body to develop immune capabilities. It is also heavily connected to hair loss, as it plays a role in stimulating the growth of hair follicles. A lack of vitamin D can slow down the hair growth cycle as well as cause hair loss. 

Some of the foods that are heavy on vitamin D include:

  • Canned tuna
  • Cod liver oil
  • Egg yolks
  • Herring
  • Mushrooms
  • Salmon
  • Sardines

In addition to adding these foods to your diet, be sure to get plenty of sunlight. Nearly 90% of vitamin D is synthesized under the influence of the ultraviolet rays of the sun.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E has several important antioxidant properties that help to reduce the harm done by free radicals and protect hair and scalp cells from their negative impact. It can help to prevent hair loss, improve blood circulation in your scalp, and create a protective barrier of oil on your scalp. 

Foods that contain a high amount of vitamin E include:

  • Almonds
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Beet greens
  • Collard greens
  • Mango
  • Peanuts and peanut butter
  • Pumpkin
  • Red bell pepper
  • Spinach
  • Sunflower seeds

Zinc

Zinc is an important part of the production of proteins, which are important for hair growth. It also plays a major role in hair tissue growth and repair, while helping to keep oil glands around the follicles working. 

Zinc is a trace element, which means that the body cannot generate zinc itself and also does not store it. This means that you will need to get enough of it daily to prevent a deficiency.  

People that consume a large amount of cereal grain, drink a lot of alcohol, and vegetarians are all at a higher risk of zinc deficiency. 

Foods that a highly fortified in zinc include:

  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Dark chocolate
  • Legumes
  • Meat
  • Nuts
  • Potatoes
  • Seeds
  • Shellfish
  • Whole grains

The Takeaway

If you're experiencing hair loss, it could be the result of a vitamin or mineral deficiency. If you don’t have enough vitamin A, B, C, D, E, zinc, selenium, calcium, iron, or fatty acids like omega-3, you can experience hair loss.

The good news about a deficiency in any of the above nutrients is that they're fairly straightforward to fix. Eat the right foods or take the right supplements to restore your levels and you may see some rapid benefits. 

SOURCES

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Disclaimer : This article is for information only and should not be considered medical advice. Always speak with your doctor about your health and the benefits or risks of any treatment or intervention. This information should not be relied on as a substitute for professional medical advice.