The Truth About Vitamin D Deficiency Causing Hair Loss

Vitamin D is understood to be one of the most important nutrients required for the body to function optimally and for an individual to be healthy. It is also famous as the nutrient our body can absorb simply through exposure to sun.

A deficiency in this essential vitamin can have many negative consequences, and has even been linked to hair loss directly and indirectly.

The negative impact of a vitamin D deficiency on the body can lead to conditions that cause hair loss as a secondary symptom, and there is evidence to suggest that vitamin D is directly involved in supporting the process of hair growth and hair follicle health.

After reading this article you’ll know:

  1. If you have a vitamin D deficiency
  2. If your vitamin D deficiency is a cause of your hair loss
  3. How to boost your vitamin D intake naturally and stop any further hair loss

Impact of Vitamin D Deficiency on Body

UC Berkley Wellness provide recommendations on the optimal level of vitamin D in the blood, which is admittedly still argued about among experts.

Levels of vitamin D are measured in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) and is determined through a blood test.

Generally, an optimal level of vitamin D is at least 30 ng/mL, but some researchers advise having a higher level of up to 50 ng/mL. While there is limited agreement on what the most ideal level of vitamin D in the blood is, there is a wealth of research on the potential negative consequences of a vitamin D deficiency.

When levels of vitamin D drop below 20-30 ng/mL, the body may begin to experience that deficiency and symptoms may begin to develop.

The type and severity of symptoms vary from one individual to another, and can be fairly severe due to the important role vitamin D plays in a variety of bodily functions.

HAIRGUARD

GROWBRUSH

Play with the slider below to see before and after.

Depending on the extent of the deficiency there can be a variety of mild to severe symptoms and persistent deficiencies may lead to more significant illness.

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • General aches and pains
  • Overall weakness
  • High blood pressure
  • Depressed feelings
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Possibility of lowered testosterone

Illnesses Associated with Vitamin D Deficiency

  • Alzheimer’s disease/Dementia: the results of a study published in Neurology confirm a substantially increased risk for individuals with a vitamin D deficiency
  • Prostate cancer: the American Association for Cancer Research conclude that men with vitamin D deficiency had increased odds of a diagnosis of prostate cancer
  • Erectile dysfunction: a study from the Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that a large proportion of men with ED had a vitamin D deficiency
  • Schizophrenia: an article from the National Institutes of Health found a strong association between schizophrenia and low levels of vitamin D
  • Cardiac conditions: there may be a link with severe vitamin D deficiency and heart disease according to recent research from the American College of Cardiology

Role of Vitamin D in Hair Loss

When an individual is deficient in vitamin D there are numerous consequences on the body, many of which can lead to hair loss or thinning hair.

A study from the Dermatology Online Journal discusses research on the role of vitamin D in hair disorders and the cycling process of the hair follicle.

Vitamin D plays an important roll in the differentiation and proliferation of keratinocytes, and the researchers sought to further understand the role of vitamin D in the process of anagen initiation as it relates to hair growth.

While the authors determine that Vitamin D does play a significant role in the process of hair cycling, they suggest that more research is required on the potential regulation of vitamin D to successfully treat hair disorders.

Keratinocytes are understood to be involved in the development of epithelial cells which are required for healthy hair growth (See Fig. 1).

Earlier studies available from the US National Library of Medicine determined that the use of keratinocyte growth factor promoted the survival of the hair follicle.

Ensuring that your body maintains appropriate and healthy levels of vitamin D is likely to support the processes involved in healthy hair growth at the point of origination.

A study from the British Medical Journal also discusses the role of vitamin D in hair loss based on a review of the available literature. The majority of available information list numerous health concerns connected to vitamin D deficiency.

However, this article does compare the science to the media message and states that much of the research do not take an explicit stance and recommends further study and scholarly debate.

Another role vitamin D may play in hair loss is discussed in research from the Turkish Journal of Medical Science that measures the effects of hereditary vitamin D receptor deficiency on an individuall’s hair growth.

This research determines that maintaining sufficient vitamin D levels in the blood reduces the likelihood of experiencing the effects of telogen effluvium.

The study found that individuals that qualified for a diagnosis of telogen effluvium also showed a statistically significant difference in low levels of vitamin D in the blood.

Telogen effluvium is identified as a very common cause of diffuse hair loss by the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research, and is a commonly occurring autoimmune disorder.

This condition is considered to be a period of hair loss following a triggering even, however there is the potential for chronic telogen effluvium to occur.

There can be various forms of telogen effluvium, all of which effect a particular process within the hair follicle (See Fig. 2).

The resulting condition includes thinning hair, brittle and unhealthy hair, as well as hair that is easily dislodged from the scalp.

Hair growth phase is important to understand the reasons behind hair lossVitamin D plays significant roles in both supporting the physical processes related hair growth, and is more directly involved through the development of keratinocytes.

If a body is dealing with a vitamin D deficiency any one of these important processes of hair growth might be interrupted and lead to issues of thinning hair and hair loss.

Beyond these more direct roles, vitamin D levels can also impact the body and cause a variety of issues that may impact hair growth as well.

Ways to Increase Vitamin D Levels

The National Institutes of Health recommend ensuring healthy levels of vitamin D though the combination of diet, exposure to sunlight, and to only use supplementation if necessary.

While there are numerous methods of addressing vitamin D deficiencies, it is possible to overdo the intake of vitamin D.

Any deliberate steps towards increasing the intake of vitamin D, or addressing a vitamin D deficiency, should be done in consultation with a medical professional.

However, it is unlikely that you can get too much vitamin D from sunlight and dietary changes.

The human body is able to absorb vitamin D through skin that is exposed to sunlight or artificial sources of ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation.

While the absorption of vitamin D does occur with UVB exposure, the dangers of UVB exposure should be taken into consideration.

Sunscreen does block much of the vitamin D able to be absorbed, but it does protect the skin from the damaging radiation.

There are a variety of factors that impact the amount of vitamin D that can be obtained through UVB exposure including;

  • The time of year
  • The time of day
  • The length of the day
  • The angle of the sun
  • Cloud cover
  • Smog/pollution
  • Skin melanin content
  • The use of sunscreen

Foods High in Vitamin D

Here are some foods that are particularly high in vitamin D: cod liver oil, portabella mushrooms, fatty fish, fish roe, tofu, eggs (yolk) and almond milk.

Various different vitamins spread across a tableVitamin D Supplements

During the winter months, when the sun is low in the sky I would highly recommend taking a good vitamin D supplement.

This will be especially important if you have darker skin as your body won’t be receiving the amount of sun that you’re used to genetically.

Recipes High in Vitamin D

Maple Glazed Salmon

  • 2 salmon fillets, 6 ounces cut 1 inch thick
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper

Preparation: Preheat oven on broil. Combine the maple syrup, hoisin sauce, Dijon mustard, and ground black pepper into a small bowl and whisk until fully blended.

Maple glazed salmon

Coat a broiler pan with olive oil and place the salmon on it with the skin side down.

Brush the salmon with the maple sauce, coat generously. Broil the salmon until it flakes easily, approximately 10 to 12 minutes.

Re-apply the maple mixture twice throughout the cooking.

Rich Mushroom Soup

  • 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms, 1 ounce
  • 6 ½ cups shiitake mushroom caps, sliced thinly
  • 2 packages button mushrooms, sliced (approximately 16 ounces)
  • 1 ½ cups onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth, fat-free, low sodium
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • ½ cup half and half
  • ¼ cup dry sherry
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped finely
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • fresh parsley to taste, chopped

Preparation: Heat flour in small skillet on medium to high heat, stir constantly and cook for 2 minutes until flour turns light brown. Remove the flour from the heat and allow to cool.

Place the porcini mushrooms in a bowl and add the boiling water, cover and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Strain the porcini mushrooms, making sure to sake the strained liquid.

Once removed from the liquid, chop the mushrooms. In a Dutch oven, melt the butter and add onion to sauté until tender, approximately 5 minutes. Add the thyme, garlic, pepper, and salt and sauté for 30 more seconds.

Add the shiitake mushrooms to the Dutch oven and cook for 3 seconds, making sure to stir constantly. Repeat with the button mushrooms.

Add the porcini mushrooms and the broth to the Dutch oven. Combine the toasted flour with the strained liquid from the porcini mushrooms, stirring with a whisk.

Add the flour mixture to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes uncovered. Add the milk and simmer for 10 more minutes, stirring regularly.

Remove the Dutch oven from the heat and stir in the half and half and the sherry. Take 2 cups of the soup and blend, processing until smooth.

Add the processed soup back to the Dutch oven and allow to warm on low heat. Sprinkle with fresh parsley when serving, if desired.

Conclusion

There is enough available evidence to suggest that a vitamin D deficiency can have significant negative impact on the body, including hair loss, thinning hair, and unhealthy or brittle hair.

Maintaining a healthy diet rich in vitamin D and getting a safe amount of sunlight will help ensure optimal levels, but some people may require the use of available vitamin D supplements.

If you are experiencing hair loss, it may be useful to consult with a medical professional about testing for and potentially managing a vitamin D deficiency.

Last Updated On

46 thoughts on “The Truth About Vitamin D Deficiency Causing Hair Loss”

  1. Thanks for this info! I am Vitamin D deficient due to my epilepsy. I have noticed my hair thinning around the edges but I didn’t think this could have something to possibly be due to Vitamin D levels. I am glad I read this because I will make sure I keep up with my vitamin D and invest in good quality vitamins. Great post!

  2. Hi Penelope

    I never realised that vitamin D3 deficiency could lead to hair loss. I take it for my bones and usually 4000iu in liquid form. Is it better to take the capsules than liquid?

    It’s interesting to know that the vitamin D research stimulates hair growth in cancer patients. Thanks for sharing this post.

  3. Is the liquid an oil? If it’s an oil, then it should be fine – the capsules are just the vitamin suspended in oil. thanks for the great question and thanks for reading!

  4. thanks for chiming in! I do hope the Vitamin D helps you – just check with your doctor about what’s best to take with your epilepsy. It would be WONDERFUL if this were the key to resolving hair loss for so many people – it’s so affordable!

  5. Hi, I found this post really informative as I never knew about the link between hair loss and vitamin D.
    I don’t have any problems with hair loss myself but as a construction worker living in the UK, I get plenty of sun exposure during the summer months, (although I do wear sun block),but no so much in the winter.

    I was wondering whether I should be taking vitamin D supplements during the winter months to compensate?

  6. Excellent question – you should definitely supplement in the winter when you don’t have as much exposure to “natural” D3. That way your body experiences consistency in the levels. You may not have issues with hair loss now, but much of the message on this site (and the products available) are all about protecting hair BEFORE you start losing it!

  7. I had never heard that a vitamin D deficiency can cause hair loss! I actually am needing vitamin D and calcium. Does Viva make the calcium too? I found a list of supplements that might help with my hearing loss, and vitamin D and Calcium are two supplements that I need. From what I read, vitamin D also stimulates the blood, which is suppose to be helpful for me 🙂 Let me know if Viva sells other supplements like the calcium 🙂

  8. I am not familiar with “vitamin D3” term. I only know vitamin D. Thank you for this precious info.

  9. Wow! What a informative and well put together article. I really wasn’t to sure about how vitamin D3 promotes hair growth.

  10. I find that most people have become very skeptical and afraid of going outside. Vitamin D deficiency and too little exposure to the sun can lead to many health problems including increased hair loss, like you mentioned.

    So this products looks and sounds great in combating and slowing down these effects.

    Great review.

  11. I agree – the sun has become something of the enemy particularly for those at high risk for skin cancer. Such a shame, because nothing feels quite as good as the sun on our skin. Even with spending some time outside, though, we need this supplement because we’re still living in bodies that evolved to spend ALL the time outside. thanks for the comment!

  12. Hi Penelope,

    Thanks very much for this informative article about Vitamin D. I was not aware that the lack of Vitamin D can cause hair loss. I always knew that it was important to have a fair amount of sunshine on our bodies as this helps with strong bones. But, as you mention, now days too much sun can be the cause of skin cancer.

    I have been prescribed one Vitamin D capsule to be taken once a month. This is for osteoporosis. I don’t know if it is Vitamin D3 and I didn’t ask because I was not aware that are different Vitamins D.

  13. Hmm…I don’t know about prescription Vitamin D, so this would be something to bring up with your physician. I’ve also never heard of a monthly (v. daily) supplement, but I’m not a medical doctor! It might not be a terrible idea for you to have additional supplementation, so I would encourage you to have that conversation with the doc. And hey, we all learn something new every day!

  14. Hey.
    I enjoyed reading this blog , as i am a Health fanatic myself!
    Thank you for sharing it with us, it is really worth reading.

    P.S Keep it up!

  15. Even though it is too late for me to keep my hair looking like it used to 20 years ago, I have just shown this article to my sons as unfortunately for them they have inherited their dads hairline, lol. They are a bit too young to be worrying about losing their hair but would this product do any harm to them if they were to use it so young?

  16. No, it’s actually a great idea to get your kids on Vitamin D3 supplements. The same observations about sedentary lifestyle apply to them, too! And parents are always slathering their kids with sunscreen, which keeps them from getting all the Vitamin D3 they need from the sun.

  17. Hi, and thanks for a very informative article. How interesting to find out vitamin D3 can cause hair loss. I guess it can come down to the culmination of so many things, but keeping the body in balance by taking vital nutrients such as this can help. I was just looking at some D3 supplements today at work funnily enough (the ones in olive oil) so reading your article has now prompted me to purchase some, especially as we have a long, cold winter ahead here in Britain. Thanks

  18. Yeah, the scourge of winter should have us all stocking up on things we need. Glad I could prompt you to get some Vitamin D for the long dark months ahead. thanks for reading 🙂

  19. My grandmother has been taking vitamin D3 Supplments for years on top of getting the proper sunlight. She has both beautiful skin and long flowing black hair.

    She’s 90 and looks excellent.

  20. Very interesting. I know Vitamin D is essential but I never knew it could affect hair loss! I also never knew about Vitamin D3 compared to D2 and the differences, benefits, and how to acquire each. Glad I found this article. I use a lot of sunblock. I thought that wouldn’t make a difference with getting enough sunlight but it makes sense it would be more difficult to absorb the Vitamin D. I guess I should get the supplement! Thanks for this!

  21. Thanks for the feedback, Rob! Sunblock definitely slows down our absorption of Vitamin D and so it’s a good idea to piggy back that with a supplement. You’ll probably notice a difference really soon.

  22. I take Vitamin D3, and didn’t know the difference until now, and didn’t know a deficiency could cause hair loss. Great article…thanks for the clarification!

  23. Another very informative post Penelope. I’d never thought till now the co-relation of Vitamin D to Hair loss. I am actually taking multivitamins which says has Vitamin D. But I guess that’s not enough. I’ll consider your advice. Thanks again =)

  24. Penelope, where have you been these past few months? I have been writing about my hair loss due to Lupus and I didn’t know you had all of these answers just sitting here waiting for me. I love your site. Does Photoworx really work? I mean do you take the supplement and use the shampoo? I am excited to even begin to hope this might be the answer I have been searching for. Lupus is a bad enough disease on its on but even worse when you start loosing your hair. I ordered the supplement from Amazon and I hope it works. I will keep you posted. Great article and fascinating research.
    Thank you so much.

  25. Thank you so much for sharing such a great and useful Information about how hair loss can also be linked with vit D3 deficiency, a problem that not every person knows. I will definitely share this useful info with others…?

  26. Hi Penelope, I didn’t realize lack of vitamin D could cause hair loss. I take it twice a day to avoid SAD, the winter blues (even living in San Diego, I need it)…just had some blood work done and doc says my vit D is great! After reading your post, I’ll be sure to take it year round. Thanks for this great information!

  27. Thanks for leaving your thoughts – and yes, it’s funny how we’re deficient even in sunny places. I live in the desert! Taking it year round is an easy shift, luckily.

  28. Hi, this is such a useful and amazing article. We usually think that vitamin D is good for bones but a very few people know that it has amazing effects on hair growth and thickness. Penelope I thank you for your wonderful read and it will spread awareness in other people as well.

  29. Ho Penelope!

    Thanks for reinforcing my firm beliefs as it pertains to using Vitamin D3. I supplement with D3 and K2 nd I have seen noticable differences in my overall mood and body functions. I think speaking for the men here that you should DEFINITELY be taking D3 as part of your daily regime.

    Great article Penelope!

  30. I recently (5 months ago) moved job to one that requires me to be outside more than the desk job I had before. So now I’m out and about around sunny Dallas much more I swear I’ve noticed the overall appearance of my hair is much healthier (not to mention my overall health.) It could completely be a placebo but I’m sure there’s something to the Vit D thing.

    • Thanks for the insight Alex. The vitamin D increase from all that sun is probably one of a number of factors that could be contributing to your increased hair health.

  31. Viva doesn’t make calcium at this time (though they do offer Krill oil and other good stuff). THIS is an excellent calcium supplement and I recommend it. Our diets are just so dreadful, even when we eat healthy, because our food just doesn’t have the nutrient density it used to, due to poor big agriculture practices. I’m all about supplementation to fill in those gaps.

  32. Hi Deborah, thanks so much for the great comment. Yes, Lupus is another autoaimmune bugabear that makes us lose our hair…and do come let us know how the Phytoworx products work out for you. I’m a big supporter of the two-pronged approach to solving hair loss – you’ve gotta supplement AND use topical treatments or shampoos designed to solve hair loss issues. I haven’t yet tried the Phytoworx products, but after my research, I will probably give them a go. My go-to supplement is Nutrafol, which is full of cartilage and other goodies.

  33. I went to the doctor two weeks ago and I have vitamin D and good cholesterol deficiency.

    I take 5 vitamin D drops (cholecalciferol) a day.

    I have been losing hair since I got 18 and at 22, it hasn’t got worse but I’m sure it isn’t a male pattern baldness as my beard is also very thin. I remember that I had some acne when I was 17 that left hair growing and I was expecting to get a full beard as I am both of caucasian and african types.

  34. Hello,
    I am fourteen years old and I have been diagnosed with vitamin d deficiency. I am fifteen percent lower than the actual percentage I should be around. I used to have beautiful thick hair, and now it seems like my hair is flat. My hair is thinning at ridiculous rates. Around my hairline you can see my scalp. I have been taking vitamins D supplements for two months now. I even gave up my vegan lifestyle because my doctor suggested that could be the problem. Every time I touch my hair two to three strands fall out, and when I wash it handfuls come out. Now even people have started to notice my hair fall. I get comments like “what happens to your hair” or “ it’s not as thick as it used I just want to know what I should do to get my hair back.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.