What Vitamin Deficiency Causes Hair Loss and Breakage?
Hair loss and breakage are common problems that affect millions of men and women worldwide.
Our hair is undoubtedly our crowning glory, the very thing that symbolizes our individuality, health, and personality. Losing hair does not just affect us physically; it also gives our confidence and self-esteem a powerful hit.
What Causes Hair Loss?
Hair loss can be caused by hormonal changes, aging, medical conditions, genetic disorders, as well a deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals in the diet.
Our body needs an abundance of nutrients to perform at its best. When we do not ingest essential vitamins and minerals, it will use whatever’s available to ensure the proper functioning of different body parts.
Here’s where it gets complicated.
Believe it or not, hair is considered non-essential to your overall bodily functions, and it is low on the priority list of things to maintain. If the body is undernourished, hair will not get the nutrients it needs to thrive, leading to damage and hair loss.
So, what vitamins and minerals are keeping you from reaching your #hairgoals? Let's explore.
Vitamin Deficiencies That Cause Hair Loss and Breakage
Our body needs iron to produce hemoglobin, which delivers essential nutrients and oxygen to hair follicles. If you have an iron deficiency, the body won’t be able to carry out its normal functions, which means it won’t give your hair follicles what they need to grow healthy hair strands.
Thus, iron deficiency (ID) can play a role in hair loss, which may begin as hair thinning or stunted hair growth.
ID is common in:
- Pre-menopausal women due to menstrual blood loss.
- Post-menopausal men and women due to gastrointestinal blood loss.
- Vegans and vegetarians, as their diets often do not contain enough dietary iron.
You can prevent iron deficiency by increasing your intake of broccoli, leafy veggies, and berries, or by taking prescribed supplements.
Vitamin D deficiency can be caused by inadequate sun exposure, obesity, and even fat malabsorption.
Because vitamin D plays a vital role in hair follicle cycles, reduced or excess Vitamin D levels can prevent proper hair growth, leading to hair loss. It primarily affects patients with male or female pattern hair loss, telogen effluvium, and other forms of hair loss.
You can prevent a vitamin D deficiency by eating fatty fish, egg yolks, red meat, and fortified food. Spend at least 10 minutes in the midday sun several times a week—wear sunscreen for proper protection.
Zinc deficiency can be inherited or developed over time. It is common in pregnant women, alcoholics, vegetarians, and people with malabsorption syndromes, cancer, and liver or renal dysfunction.
Because zinc plays an important role in protein synthesis, cell division, tissue growth, and repair, lower zinc levels can cause hair loss. It can also affect the remaining hair by making them brittle, causing extensive breakage.
To prevent zinc deficiency, eat more oysters, fish, meat, wheat germs, pumpkin seeds, dairy foods, and legumes.
Treating Hair Loss and Vitamin Deficiency
Many things can cause hair loss and breakage; vitamin deficiency is just one of them. So, if you start noticing your hair strands breaking or falling out more than usual.
The doctor will take your history into account, prescribe tests to find the root cause of hair breakage, then give you possible treatment options. Treatment for vitamin deficiency primarily calls for making changes in your diet or taking supplements to compensate for the lack of vitamins in your body. But if you are diagnosed with a specific vitamin deficiency, there are other forms of treatment as well.
This treatment sounds very simple, but avoid self-diagnosing and choosing your own supplements. It is important to consult with a professional to ensure that your body gets what it needs to remain healthy.
The ideal range of supplements required to prevent or treat hair loss varies on a case-to-case basis. Excess vitamin D and selenium may result in even more hair loss—the very thing you wanted to avoid. Excess supplementation of zinc may cause toxicity, leading to chronic health issues.
Because vitamin and mineral deficiencies can lead to hair loss and breakage, it’s a good idea to maintain a healthy diet. It will give your body—and therefore your hair— the nutrients it needs to thrive, which will help you achieve the mane of your dreams.
Keep in mind that vitamin deficiencies are not the only cause of hair loss and breakage. Genetic factors and other medical conditions can cause changes in hair texture and strength. It is best to consult a doctor at the earliest sign of hair damage, as it may lead to irreversible hair loss if the root cause is not diagnosed and treated.