Hair loss is a common challenge that can affect a person’s self-esteem along with their appearance. Androgenetic alopecia, also referred to as male or female pattern baldness, is the most common cause of hair loss.
According to findings published in a 2016 Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia study, 67.1 percent of men and 23.9 percent of women are affected by hair loss. Hair loss can also signal other health problems occurring in the body. Certain vitamin deficiencies can cause hair loss, but correcting the deficiency may actually fix the problem.
What Vitamin Deficiency Causes Hair Loss?
“Iron Deficiency in pre-menopausal women is one the main causes ofhair loss and could indicate an underlying medical condition,” Abraham Armani, MD, a hair restoration surgeon and hair loss expert in Dallas, Texas, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
Iron contributes to hemoglobin production, which helps deliver nutrients and oxygen to hair follicles. Without enough iron, the hair won’t grow, causing progressively thinner hair. Women with heavy periods may also develop iron deficiency anemia. Some other potential causes of iron deficiency include:
- Not eating enough iron-rich foods, such as red meat, seafood, and beans
- Blood loss from ulcers
- Certain cancers, such as colon cancer
According to Armani, some other vitamin deficiencies that can causehair loss include:
- Vitamin D: When vitamin D is low, the hair may thin or stop growing.
- Zinc: Zinc deficiency can cause similar hair loss to iron and may also damage any remaining hair, causing it to break.
- Selenium: Armani cautions that selenium deficiency is rare. When it occurs, it may disrupt thyroid functioning, which can cause hypothyroidism and hair loss.
People with vitamin-related hair loss may lose more than just the hair on their heads. Damage to hair follicles can also cause the eyebrows and lashes to shed.
Treating Hair Loss and Vitamin Deficiency
People who think they have hair loss related to a vitamin deficiency should not self-diagnose. A doctor can test for vitamin deficiencies, make diet and supplement recommendations, and potentially recommend other forms of treatment. It may also be possible to have multiple types of hair loss at once, so it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis.