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.
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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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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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