Hair loss is subtle warning sign of a vitamin D deficiency

Dr Ellie on why people should be taking Vitamin D supplements

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Short days filled with rain and poor light can not only be taxing on your mental health but also your supply of vitamin D. During the colder months, many Britons struggle to get the required amount of the sunshine vitamin. However, being stripped of this essential nutrient can spur on a vitamin D deficiency, with your hairline taking the hit.

Vitamin D plays a part in various processes in your body, ranging from building a healthy immune system to keeping your bones strong.

While the lack of this essential nutrient can crop up in these areas, your hair could also be a target.

According to Dr Rhianna McClymont, Lead GP at Livi, hair loss is one of the warning signs of a vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is metabolised in your skin by keratinocytes, which describe skin cells that process keratin – a protein found in hair, nails, and skin. 

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When the body runs low on vitamin D, keratinocytes in hair follicles have trouble regulating hair growth and shedding.

You don’t have to take just the doctor’s word for it as research also ties the deficiency to this annoying symptom.

A study, published in the International Journal of Trichology, set out to investigate the link between the lack of vitamin D and female hair loss.

Looking at 45 women who were losing hair, the research evaluated the same number of healthy women matched for age, hours spent under sunlight per day, and body mass index. 

Blood tests confirmed that low levels of Vitamin D3 were in fact associated with hair loss in the subjects.

Apart from hair loss, the Cleveland Clinic lists other red flag symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, including:

  • Tiredness
  • Bone pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle aches
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Mood changes
  • Depression.

The good news is that hair loss triggered by a vitamin D deficiency is usually reversible.

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Dr Rhianna McClymont said: “Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to maintain good vitamin D levels. 

“According to the NHS guidelines, adults and children above the age of four should supplement with 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day during the winter months.

“Supplements are available from nearly all pharmacies and are available in a range of doses.

“For a mild vitamin D deficiency, it may be enough to just take the recommended 10 micrograms a day. 

“More severe deficiencies may require higher doses of vitamin D – but always talk to a pharmacist or GP if you’re unsure.”

The UK Government recommends everyone to consider supplementing with 10 micrograms of the sunshine vitamin during the colder months, which is the equivalent of 400 International Units.

If you want to boost your intake of the essential nutrient through your diet, the doctor recommends these foods:

  • Oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines
  • Red meat
  • Liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified foods like breakfast cereals
  • Dietary supplements.

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