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Vitamin D and Alopecia: Everything You Need to Know

By Raina Cordell, RN
Here’s how being low on vitamin D could contribute to alopecia and why a supplement might help.

Can vitamin D help prevent hair loss? According to recent studies—it may. Nutritional deficiencies can play a role in alopecia. Here’s more on how vitamin D and alopecia are linked and what to do about it. 

What Does Vitamin D Have to Do With Alopecia?

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that your body needs for:

  • Keeping bones healthy and strong
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Immune health
  • Glucose metabolism
  • Neuromuscular health 

Foods like fatty fish, egg yolks, and cheese can help you meet your daily requirements but you can also absorb vitamin D from sunlight.

Alopecia areata is considered to be a type of autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack hair follicles. According to a 2020 study in Dermatology and Therapy, vitamin D plays an important role in immune health. A deficiency in vitamin D can be linked to many different types of autoimmune disease—including alopecia areata. This study found that vitamin D deficiency was a risk factor for developing alopecia areata and that a significant number of patients with this condition had low levels of vitamin D. 

Vitamin D is also metabolized in the skin by keratinocytes. This is a type of skin cell that processes keratin, a protein in hair, nails, and skin. When the body isn’t getting enough vitamin D, keratinocytes in hair follicles aren’t able to regulate hair growth and shedding.

“Vitamin D and hair loss are very closely intertwined,” Anna Chacon, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and hair loss expert in South Florida tells WebMD Connect to Care. “Both vitamin D deficiency, as well as vitamin D excess, may cause hair loss,” Chacon explains.  

A 2020 study in the International Journal of Dermatology found that vitamin D deficiency may also play a role in the development and severity of androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness

Can vitamin D supplements help with hair loss? It depends on whether your hair loss is being caused by a vitamin D deficiency. According to Chacon, “A laboratory workup of hair loss should include tests to evaluate current vitamin D levels.” 

Vitamin D supplements come in a pill or cream that can be applied to the skin. “Usually significant improvement is noted once vitamin D levels are corrected,” Chacon says. 

30 minutes of sun exposure can also provide enough vitamin D, according to a 2020 study published in the Journal of Korean Medical Science. But keep in mind that this also increases the risk of skin cancer. 

Don’t Wait. Get Help Today.

The sooner you address the symptoms of hair loss, the more likely you are to prevent irreversible damage. Speak to a medical professional today to begin your journey to a fuller head of hair.