Does Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Hair Loss?

Jul 05, 2024 | 8 min read

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Does vitamin D deficiency cause hair loss? Yes, it can. Insufficient vitamin D disrupts hair growth cycles and leads to thinning. Managing this condition with proper sun exposure, diet, and supplements is crucial for healthy hair.

does vitamin d deficiency cause hair loss

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health. It is often called the "sunshine vitamin" because our bodies produce it when our skin is exposed to sunlight. 

According to the Journal of Health Population and Nutrition data, about 1 billion people worldwide have vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency. Vitamin D is essential for various bodily functions, including the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, which are necessary for building and maintaining strong bones. Without enough vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. 

Additionally, vitamin D supports immune system function, helps regulate mood, and contributes to cardiovascular health.

Moreover, vitamin D is vital for cellular growth and repair. It acts like a hormone in the body, influencing the activity of many different tissues. This includes the skin, where vitamin D receptors are present in every cell. Its widespread role makes it essential for overall well-being.

Sources of Vitamin D

  • Sunlight: The primary source of vitamin D is sunlight. When your skin is exposed to the sun's UVB rays, it synthesizes vitamin D. 
  • Supplements: For those who have difficulty getting enough vitamin D from sunlight and food, supplements are a viable option. They are available in two forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol), with D3 being more effective in raising blood levels of vitamin D.
  • Foods: Fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna), egg yolks, fortified foods (like milk, orange juice, and cereals)
vitamin d foods

Does Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Hair Loss?

Yes, vitamin D deficiency can indeed cause hair loss. The relationship between vitamin D and hair health is well-documented in medical research. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the growth and maintenance of hair follicles. When the body lacks sufficient vitamin D, the hair growth cycle can be disrupted, leading to hair thinning and increased hair shedding.

How Vitamin D Deficiency Leads to Hair Loss

  • Hair Follicle Cycling: Vitamin D receptors are found in hair follicles, and these receptors need to be activated for hair growth to occur. When vitamin D levels are low, these receptors may not function properly, shortening the hair growth phase (anagen phase) and leading to premature shedding.
  • Keratinocyte Function: Keratinocytes, the cells responsible for producing keratin (the protein that makes up hair), depend on vitamin D for their growth and development. A deficiency in vitamin D can impair keratinocyte function, resulting in weaker hair and increased hair loss.
  • Association with Hair Loss Conditions: Conditions like alopecia areata and androgenetic alopecia have been linked to low levels of vitamin D. Research suggests that individuals with these conditions often have lower serum vitamin D levels compared to those without.

Research on Vitamin D Deficiency and Hair Loss

Several research studies have established a connection between vitamin D deficiency and hair loss. These studies highlight the crucial role that vitamin D plays in maintaining healthy hair follicles and promoting hair growth. For instance:

  • Study on Hair Follicle Health: Research from the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has shown that vitamin D receptors (VDR) are critical for hair follicle cycling. A study found that mice lacking these receptors experienced hair loss, suggesting a similar impact in humans.
  • Human Studies: In a study published in the Journal of Dermatology and Therapy involving women with hair loss, those with lower levels of vitamin D had more significant hair loss compared to those with normal levels. This study indicates that maintaining adequate vitamin D levels is essential for preventing hair loss.
  • Clinical Trials: Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology has explored the effects of vitamin D supplementation on hair growth. These trials suggest that increasing vitamin D levels can improve hair density and reduce shedding, especially in individuals who were previously deficient.

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency can manifest in various ways, affecting multiple aspects of health. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Hair Loss: One of the significant indicators, hair loss can be distressing and noticeable.
  • Fatigue: Persistent tiredness and low energy levels, even after a good night's sleep.
  • Muscle Weakness: Weakness in muscles, often leading to difficulties in performing everyday tasks.
  • Bone Pain: Pain in bones, particularly in the lower back, pelvis, and legs, due to weakened bone structure.
  • Depression: Mood changes, including feelings of sadness, depression, or anxiety, can be linked to low vitamin D levels.

Other symptoms may include frequent illnesses, impaired wound healing, and general feelings of malaise. Recognizing these signs early is crucial for addressing the deficiency and improving overall health.

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Hair loss related to vitamin D deficiency is typically characterized by two main signs:

  • Hair Thinning: This is often one of the first noticeable symptoms. Individuals may observe that their hair is not as thick as it once was. This thinning can be widespread or concentrated in certain areas, such as the scalp's top.
  • Increased Hair Shedding: Another key indicator is an increase in hair falling out. This can be seen during brushing, washing, or even just running hands through the hair. It's normal to lose some hair daily, but a noticeable increase can signal a deficiency.

Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency

Lack of Sunlight

One of the primary causes of vitamin D deficiency is insufficient sunlight exposure. The body produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to UVB rays from the sun. Factors that contribute to a lack of sunlight include:

  • Geographical Location: People living in northern latitudes receive less UVB radiation, especially during the winter months, leading to lower vitamin D production.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Spending most of the time indoors, whether due to work, schooling, or lifestyle preferences, reduces exposure to natural sunlight.
  • Seasonal Changes: During winter, shorter days and less intense sunlight can significantly impact vitamin D synthesis.

Dietary Insufficiency

The diet also plays a crucial role in vitamin D levels. Unfortunately, not many foods naturally contain vitamin D. Vegetarians and vegans may be particularly at risk if they do not include fortified plant-based products in their diet. Ensuring a balanced diet that includes these sources is crucial for maintaining adequate vitamin D levels.

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions can impair the body's ability to absorb or convert vitamin D, leading to a deficiency. Some of these conditions include:

  • Crohn’s Disease: This inflammatory bowel disease affects the digestive tract, which can interfere with the absorption of nutrients, including vitamin D.
  • Celiac Disease: An autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine, affecting nutrient absorption.
  • Kidney Disorders: The kidneys play a critical role in converting vitamin D into its active form. Conditions that impair kidney function can lead to lower vitamin D levels.
  • Liver Disorders: Similar to kidney disorders, liver diseases can affect the conversion and activation of vitamin D.

Diagnosing Vitamin D Deficiency

Medical Consultation

If you suspect vitamin D deficiency is causing hair loss, consult a healthcare professional. They can evaluate your symptoms, review your history, test for deficiencies, and rule out other causes like thyroid issues or nutritional deficiencies.

Blood Tests

The most reliable method for diagnosing vitamin D deficiency is through a blood test called the 'serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D' test. This test measures the levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in your blood, which is the best indicator of your overall vitamin D status. The procedure is straightforward and involves drawing a small amount of blood, which is then analyzed in a laboratory.

The results of the serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D test are typically reported in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).

Optimal levels can vary depending on the source:

  • On average, levels between 30 and 60 ng/mL are generally considered optimal for health.
  • Levels between 20 and 30 ng/mL are often considered insufficient.
  • Levels below 20 ng/mL indicate a deficiency.

A healthcare professional can accurately interpret the results of your vitamin D test. They will consider your overall health, medical history, and specific symptoms to determine the best course of action. If a deficiency is detected, they may recommend lifestyle changes, dietary adjustments, or vitamin D supplements to restore your levels to the optimal range. You can also Upload Test Results for Docus AI Doctor to analyze them, interpret and give you easy-to-understand insights on your condition.

Regular testing is essential for those at risk of deficiency, including individuals with limited sun exposure, certain medical conditions, or dietary restrictions. By maintaining regular check-ups, you can ensure your vitamin D levels remain adequate, supporting both your overall health and hair growth.

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Treating Hair Loss Due to Vitamin D Deficiency


Vitamin D supplements can be an effective way to boost your levels. Here are some considerations:

  • Types of Supplements: Vitamin D supplements are available in two forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). D3 is generally more effective at raising blood levels of vitamin D.
  • Consultation: It's important to consult a healthcare provider before starting any supplement regimen. They can recommend the appropriate dosage based on your specific health needs and monitor your progress.
  • Alternative Options: In addition to supplements, consider integrating specialized products that support scalp health and hair growth. For instance, Hair Oil for Scalp Health and Hair Growth uses a blend of natural oils and vitamins to enhance scalp wellness and stimulate hair growth. 
    Often, hair problems go along with skin, and nail insufficiencies, so addressing them simultaneously can be beneficial. Consider taking Hair, Skin, and Nails Supplement which combines essential vitamins to promote hair growth, strengthen nails, and improve skin health.

If you are still unsure what to do take the Docus Supplement Quiz which assesses your symptoms and provides personalized recommendations on the vitamins you might need. It's a convenient way to get tailored advice based on your 

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Sun Exposure

One of the most effective ways to increase your vitamin D levels is through sensible sun exposure. Here are some guidelines:

  • Duration: Aim for about 10-30 minutes of midday sun exposure several times a week. The exact time needed can vary based on your skin type, location, and season.
  • Skin Area: Expose larger areas of skin, such as your arms, legs, and back, to maximize vitamin D production.
  • Protection: While it's important to get sun exposure, avoid excessive UV exposure to reduce the risk of skin cancer. Use sunscreen after the recommended exposure time if you plan to stay outdoors longer.

Dietary Changes

Including vitamin D-rich foods in your diet is another key strategy to combat deficiency. Some foods that are high in vitamin D include:

  • Fatty Fish: Salmon, mackerel, and tuna are excellent sources of vitamin D.
  • Egg Yolks: Incorporating eggs into your diet can help boost your vitamin D intake.
  • Fortified Foods: Many dairy products, orange juice, and cereals are fortified with vitamin D. Check labels to find these fortified options.
  • Mushrooms: Certain types of mushrooms exposed to sunlight can provide a good amount of vitamin D.

Including these foods in your daily diet can help maintain adequate vitamin D levels. Aim to incorporate a variety of these sources to ensure a balanced intake.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Key Takeaways

  • Vitamin D deficiency can cause hair loss by disrupting the hair growth cycle.
  • Sensible sun exposure and a diet rich in vitamin D are crucial for maintaining healthy levels.
  • Foods high in vitamin D include fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified products.
  • Consult a healthcare provider before starting vitamin D supplements.
  • Regular monitoring of vitamin D levels is essential, especially for those at risk of deficiency.
  • Treating underlying medical conditions is important for preventing vitamin D deficiency.
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