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Is there a link between vitamin D and female hair loss?

Posted on: April 29, 2013   by  John Cannell, MD


Telogen effluvium (TE) and female pattern hair loss (FPHL) is hair loss that often occurs in young women. In fact, it occurs in up to 30% of women, often with devastating psychological consequences. Treatment options to stop progression and stimulate hair regrowth include several medications, but hair transplantation needs to be considered in more advanced cases.

Recently, Doctor H. Rasheed, working under senior author E. Hamdy of Cairo University have looked if vitamin D might play a role or have an association with this condition.

Rasheed H. et al. Serum ferritin and vitamin D in female hair loss: do they play a role? Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2013;26(2):101-7.

The authors found that women with hair loss had much lower vitamin D levels than did normal controls. Serum vitamin D levels in females with TE were only 11 ng/ml and those with FPHL were only 12 ng/ml (p < 0.001). Furthermore, the vitamin D levels decreased with increasing hair loss and with disease severity.

While it is too early to comment if there is any prevention or treatment effect with vitamin D in TE and FPHL, this study certainly gives reason to screen for vitamin D deficiency in women with hair loss. There is no harm in treating deficiency and it is advised that everyone is sufficient for a host of reasons.

Could it help with TE and FPHL? I’m curious to hear your anecdotal reports. Have any female readers noticed more hair growth with adequate vitamin D supplementation?

10 Responses to Is there a link between vitamin D and female hair loss?

  1. IAW

    Not long ago a female friend of mine reported to me that since taking about 6000 iu Vitamin D a day that the “handfuls of hair” that were coming out when she washed her hair had dramatically decreased. Dr. Cannell asked “Have any female readers noticed more hair growth?” My friend at least noticed less coming out and that her hair is now thicker from less hair loss.

  2. Sondra Rose

    I have never suffered hair loss, but my hair now grows approximately one inch per month.

    According to my hairdresser, about 1/2″ per month is normal.

    I keep my blood level around 80 ng/ml (keeps my asthma at bay!) by supplementing 8,000 IUs in winter/spring and 6,000 IUs in summer/fall. I’ve been supplementing for 3.5 years.

  3. Rita and Misty

    My 85 year old mom has a full head of hair. She keeps her 25(OH)D level at 80 ng/ml.

    Many women typically start to lose hair during the perimenopausal years. These are the years of hormonal imbalance, often including imbalance of the thyroid hormone–which can often result in hair loss.

    It is my opinion that Vitamin D is the master hormone, which is responsible for a healthy functioning thyroid gland. A healthy functioning thyroid gland in turn ensures a healthy functioning endocrine system, perhaps.

    About 8 years ago (at age 40), I did suffer from hormonal imbalance, which corrected itself once my 25(OH)D level reached 74 ng/ml (currently my Vitamin D Serum level is 104 ng/ml).

    During my time of hormonal imbalance my normally thick hair did thin out substantially. It am happy to report it has once again returned to its very think status.

    Like Sondra Rose, my hair grows approximately one inch per month.

    Be well.

  4. Sara

    As a Trichologist specialising in hair loss in women I believe I am possibly rare in so much as I have been making sure all my patients get tested for vitamin d and most are indeed low and therefore take vitamin d supplements and improve sun exposure. I have no formal research myself to show it works, but I do have tremendous success with hair regrowth and even if there is no definite improvement in hair growth then at least their general health and well being will improve. However, we do know that vitamin d aids the absorption of iron (there is a lot of research on ferritin levels and Telogen Effluvium) and also has the ability to switch of gene expression so could also help with FPHL. The role of vitamin D in hair loss is therefore something I feel very passionate about and would love to have more evidence, so If anybody would like to involve me in more research into this area I would be happy to oblige.
    Sara Allison http://www.hairlossconsultant.co.uk

  5. Brant Cebulla

    Sara, we’ll keep our eye out for research and researchers with interest in this realm and connect you as appropriate.


  6. yva

    Hi I know the subject been on top a while ago, but I’ve done a blood test to double check my Vit D level as i worked on night shift for 6 months. Obviously the level of Vit D was Way too low hence why I’ve been given a liquid Vit D to increase it in short term. A few weeks later I occurred a massive hair loss (it is still the case) but on the other hand I’ve got lots of baby hair as well. Someone told me there might be a link to the vegetarian diet as I stopped eat meat nearly year ago which I can’t believe. The thing is there could be a connection with not having enough iron. I just don’t know I’m terrified as I always had really strong thick hair,and now my pony tail is like a straw…

  7. Tsianina

    yva, being vegetarian or vegan would definitely NOT be the cause for hair loss. A whole foods plant based diet is optimal for human health, so just by giving up meat, you’ve done amazing things for your health. To learn more about that, I highly suggest visiting the free website nutritionfaacts.org and I highly recommend the book “How Not To Die.”
    However, that being said, one can be a meat eater, vegetarian, or vegan and still become deficient or eat unhealthy. Are you eating beans/legumes, fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and whole grains such as oats? These are the things our diet should consist of. Dr. Michael Greger has a lot of great information on what we should be eating for optimal nutrition and health, he’s the one who runs nutritionfacts.org and the writer of “How Not To Die.”
    Incidentally, Dr. Greger doesn’t typically advise supplementation with the exception of vitamin d and B12.
    You may not be getting enough B12. The only reason meat contains it is because the animals are supplemented, so really supplementing with it yourself is optimal because you’d be getting it directly and none of the bad stuff or cruelty and lack of sustainability along with it for that matter.
    You could also get your thyroid checked. Certain medications contain lithium which surprises thyroid function. I take a bit of Maine Coast kelp granules daily for iodine and sometimes eat a brazil nut a day or a few a week for selenium which both help the thyroid.
    You should be able to get your nutrition levels measured such as B vitamins, vitamin d, calcium, iron, etc. to see where you’re at. You could also get your hormone levels checked to see what’s going on.
    I have personally found that MSM drastically helps stimulate hair growth, but I only trust certain supplement companies so I get Blue Bonnet opti-MSM and I take it with a vitamin c rich food, usually some camu camu powder or amla berry powder because it’s said to work together with vitamin c. I don’t know if there’s a ton of human studies out there on it, but I have seen significant results.
    And if you ever get injections for hair growth, they have PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections where they take your blood and spin it to separate the plasma and then re-inject it directly into the scalp to stimulate hair growth.

    Good luck!!

  8. Tsianina

    When I started taking 5,000 IU of vitamin d daily from lichen, it appeared that new hair follicles had appeared on my head to my surprise. This was good news because I had suffered hair loss in the past due to a traumatic experience in a hospital. Things are getting back to normal now and I think vitamin d is very important for that and would love to see more human studies in the future.

  9. azheen

    fpr those who replied, how long does it take for the hair to stop shedding after taking 5000/6000 IU’s of vitamin D supplements daily?

  10. judyt54

    I had severe hairloss for several years after menopause, and it turned out that while the Vitamin D I was taking curtailed it, the real culprit was a parathyroid gland.
    It can be very difficult to get a doctor to even look for such things, but an endocrinologist will take you seriously. This is not thyroid, but glands that piggyback on the thyroid itself.
    Once I had one removed, I lost weight (yay) and my hair started growing back normally, without taking any supplements at all (yay). It’s worth the effort to see if that might be the problem.

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