Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that plays important roles in your body. These include immunity, cell growth, and regulating minerals like calcium and phosphate that are crucial for strong bones. So, when you have a vitamin deficiency, it can manifest into physical symptoms of vitamin D deficiencies like joint and bone pain, cramping, and hair loss.
So how much vitamin D should you be taking to avoid symptoms like hair loss? The best source of vitamin D is sunlight, so being outdoors 15 minutes per week is enough to give you the vitamin D you need. Since some people have difficulty absorbing sunlight, they need to get it from food sources and dietary supplements. Foods that are rich in vitamin D are fatty fish, fish oils, beef liver, and mushrooms, among others. For dietary supplements, it’s best to consult with a trusted provider to assess how much vitamin D your body really needs on the daily.
How Much Vitamin D Is Necessary for Hair Loss?
Like all other vitamins and minerals, as long as you have adequate levels of vitamin D and you’re getting your recommended daily intake and have regular vitamin D levels, you should be able to avoid getting a vitamin D deficiency and experiencing symptoms like hair loss.
The recommended dietary allowance of vitamin D for adults is 600 IU (International Units) daily for both men and women aged 19 to 69 years old. For men and women 70 years old and above, they need more vitamin D every day with 800 IU.
The tolerable upper intake level for adults and children older than 9 years old is 4,000 IU. This is the maximum vitamin D level your body can have that won’t result in harmful effects on your body. Any more than this, and you could be at risk of hypervitaminosis D or vitamin D toxicity. This is a condition where you have high vitamin D levels in your body to the point that it’s becoming toxic and leading to multiple negative effects.
The risk of vitamin D toxicity in the average person is extremely rare because you’d need to take very large amounts of vitamin D for it to become toxic. However, it’s still possible to develop toxic levels of vitamin D if you have:
- Granulomatous disorders
- Congenital disorders
- Dysregulated vitamin D metabolism
- Accidentally overdosed on vitamin D
- Are taking the wrong prescription of vitamin D
- Are taking extremely high amounts of vitamin D
Do I Need Vitamin D Supplements?
Vitamin D supplements are best for those with Vitamin D deficiencies, which are actually fairly common. In the United States, 40% of adults have a vitamin D deficiency. Although sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, factors like age and your skin color can affect how well your body absorbs sunlight.
Younger people with lighter skin colors can easily absorb and convert sunlight into vitamin D. In comparison, people with darker skin over the age of 50 may find it difficult to convert. Other factors like your location, existing medical conditions, and body weight can affect how much sunlight you can convert into vitamin D.
The best way to know if you have a vitamin D deficiency is to consult your doctor. They may request a laboratory test called the 25-hydroxyvitamin D Blood Test done to check how much vitamin D your body has. If there is a deficiency, they may recommend a diet change to include more food sources rich in vitamin D or to take vitamin D supplements.
Natural Sources of Vitamin D
There are three main forms of vitamin D: sunlight exposure, dietary sources, and supplements. The best source of vitamin D is through direct sunlight exposure since it’s impossible to get too much vitamin D intake from it. There’s no exact number on how often you need exposure to sunlight to get enough doses of vitamin D, but some researchers recommend at least 15 minutes of sun exposure three times per week. This may be enough exposure to the sun’s UV-B rays to give you the vitamin B you need. This can vary on factors like the season and where you live.
You can also get your doses of vitamin D from certain food sources. Some good dietary sources include:
- Fatty fish (such as tuna, salmon, anchovies, mackerel, sardines, etc.)
- Fish liver oils
- Beef liver
- Egg yolk
Most of the food sources are from animal food, which may be unavailable to those with vegan and vegetarian diets. In this case, your doctor may recommend taking supplements.
How Vitamin D Affects Hair Health
It’s unknown exactly how vitamin D helps hair health, but vitamin D deficiencies have been shown to cause weak hair and hair loss. In fact, there is a link between vitamin D and alopecia, also known as spot balding, which can happen to both men and women with vitamin D deficiencies.
Some research suggests that vitamin D plays a role in stimulating your hair follicles. Hair regrowth happens in a cycle, and eventually, hair sheds to make way for newer, stronger hair. However, when there isn’t enough vitamin D to go around in your system, new hair growth can be delayed, which can cause visible hair loss.
There isn’t enough research to say for certain how long it will take for hair to grow back once you start taking vitamin D supplements. Anecdotal evidence suggests around two months before you notice less shedding and better hair growth, but this can vary between patients.
Other Causes of Hair Loss
Vitamin D isn’t the only cause of hair loss. If your doctor finds that you don’t have a vitamin D deficiency, some other cause of hair loss may be affecting you. This can include:
- Genetics – men and women can inherit genes that can trigger male and female pattern hair loss. For many, they can experience gradual patchy hair loss as early as their twenties. This cannot be reversed as there is currently no cure for genetic hair loss. However, there are treatment options to slow down your hair loss or improve your hair’s appearance.
- Post-pregnancy hair loss – hair loss in women is common after experiencing childbirth. During your pregnancy, your body has high levels of estrogen. This can promote hair growth and even slow down or pause your hair cycle from triggering shedding. After giving birth, it can take up to one year for your estrogen levels to return to normal. During this time, it’s normal to experience significant hair loss. Many women find that cutting their hair short can help minimize the discomfort of hair fall.
- Underlying medical conditions – people with an autoimmune condition, thyroid diseases, depression, chronic stress, and any other health condition can experience hair loss. This needs to be treated first before you can take steps to promote hair growth.
- Medications and other treatments – some medicines and treatments for conditions like cancer, arthritis, and heart disease can affect hair growth.
- Poor hair care practices – habits like shampooing too much, tying hair too tightly, using harsh chemicals, and prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays can make your hair dry, brittle, and prone to damage.
- Other nutritional deficiencies – if it’s not a vitamin D deficiency, it is possible to have a deficiency for any other essential vitamin. Ask your doctor to check for any other nutritional deficiencies. In case of any of these deficiencies, you may be recommended to change your diet or take dietary supplements. This can include:
- Vitamin A – essential for cell growth and developing tissue like hair, as well as regulating healthy sebum production to keep your hair hydrated by natural oils. Too much vitamin A can also cause hair loss.
- Vitamin B Complex – most B-vitamins help your circulatory system and can help deliver enough blood flow to the hair follicles. Biotin (vitamin B7), in particular, is associated with hair loss in rare cases of biotin deficiencies.
- Vitamin C – an antioxidant that can protect hair from free radicals and UV rays from causing premature aging, graying, and drying out your hair’s natural oils. It can also help with collagen production, which is one of the proteins that make up your hair and can lead to stronger hair and roots. Finally, it can also help people with conditions like celiac disease and Crohn’s disease that make it difficult to absorb iron and promote blood flow. Vitamin C helps absorb iron better, which can help with transporting blood flow to your scalp.
- Vitamin E – another potent antioxidant that can protect your hair from the sun’s UV rays and free radicals.
Shop for Hair Care Products at FACE Med Store Today
You don’t have to take excessive amounts of vitamin D supplements to treat hair loss. If you have a vitamin D deficiency and are taking steps to treat it, your hair can eventually grow back stronger and healthier. However, there are many other causes of hair loss, so check with your doctor if you have a nutritional deficiency to see if a lack of vitamin D really is the cause of poor hair health. If it is, additional sun exposure, a modified diet, and vitamin D supplements may be necessary.
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