Vitamin D deficiency and hair loss

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Can vitamin d deficiency cause hair loss?
Yes! Vitamin D deficiency can cause hair loss. Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss from the head or body.
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Hair loss may have many causes including, nutritional deficiency, androgenic hormonal effects, infections, side effect of medications, trauma, sudden onset of telogen effluvium, rapid weight loss, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Certain health conditions like, postpartum effluvium, alopecia areata, lupus erythematosus, inflammatory diseases and diabetes can also cause hair loss. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to many inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as asthma, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 (juvenile) diabetes, Crohn's disease, autoimmune thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis and alopecia areata.

The role of calcitriol

The biologically active form of vitamin D is known as calcitriol, which circulates as a hormone in the blood. The calcitriol hormone activates the calcitriol receptor (NR1I1). The calcitriol receptor plays an important role in regulating the hair cycle. The insufficiency of calcitriol can disturb and affect the hair cycle.

Vitamin D in the form of cholecalciferol is available in fish and fish oil, milk, fortified fruit juices and cereals. The human skin can synthesize this nutrient in the form of cholecalciferol with the help of sunlight. Lack of exposure to the sunlight or living in higher latitudes can cause vitamin D deficiency and related hair problems. At the sametime it is to be noted that megadoses of this nutrient can be toxic for the body.

Vitamin D deficiency and hair loss - Research evidence

There is compelling research evidence linking deficiency of calcitriol to hair fall. The very common form of autoimmune hair hypotrichosis, alopecia areata, as well as telogen effluvium or female pattern hair loss have been associated with vitamin D deficiency.

Mahmud Mahamid et al studied the possible association between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and alopecia areata ( autoimmune hair loss). They have published their research report in the Israel Medical Association Journal (June 2014). The pathogenesis of AA is considered to be autoimmune and inflammatory.
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In their clinical studies they followed up 23 patients with alopecia areata (AA) as well as a control group matched for age and gender. They collected blood samples and tested blood count, C-reactive protein (CRP), and 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of the group. The C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation, is released by the liver in response to inflammation.

They found that the patients with hair loss had significantly higher values for CRP than the control group. Further the AA group had deficiency in 25-hydroxyvitamin D serum levels (less than 30 ng/ml) lower than the control group. They concluded that,
We found a significant correlation between AA and vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency can be a significant risk factor for AA occurrence.
Rasheed H et al in their study published in Skin pharmacology and physiology (2013), have reported that deficiency in serum ferritin and 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels can causes chronic telogen effluvium (TE) or female pattern hair loss (FPHL). They concluded that,
Low serum ferritin and vitamin D2 are associated with hair loss in females with TE and FPHL. Screening to establish these levels in cases of hair loss and supplementing with them when there is deficiency may be beneficial in the treatment of disease.
Aksu Cerman A et al reporting in British Journal of Dermatology (June, 2014) concluded that screening patients with alopecia areata hair loss for 25-hydroxyvitamin D deficiency seems to be of value for the possibility of supplementing these patients with vitamin D.
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Reference:
1.Aksu Cerman A, Sarikaya Solak S, Kivanc Altunay I. Vitamin D deficiency in alopecia areata. Br J Dermatol. 2014 Jun;170(6):1299-304.
2.Rasheed H, Mahgoub D, Hegazy R, El-Komy M, Abdel Hay R, Hamid MA, Hamdy E. Serum ferritin and vitamin d in female hair loss: do they play a role? Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2013;26(2):101-7.
3.Roberto d’Ovidio, Margherita Vessio, Francesco Domenico d’Ovidio. Reduced level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in chronic/relapsing Alopecia Areata. Dermatoendocrinol. Apr 1, 2013; 5(2): 271–273.
4.Mahamid M, Abu-Elhija O, Samamra M, Mahamid A, Nseir W. Association between vitamin D levels and alopecia areata. Isr Med Assoc J. 2014 Jun;16(6):367-70.
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Current topic in natural skin care: Does vitamin D deficiency cause hair loss.