Vitamin Deficiencies that cause Hair Loss

Iron Deficiency

Iron is an essential mineral that transports oxygen to all parts of the body and trace amounts are found in hair. Iron deficiency is more common in women than in men. It is my position that this is the most common form of hair loss among women. This type of hair loss is gradual, diffuse, and is slow to form but can mimic female pattern thinning (androgenetic alopecia). Such things as excessively heavy periods (menorrhagia), childbirth, ulcers, gastritis, lack of red meat, and injuries are the common culprits of iron deficiency.

A good source of iron is liver, lean red meat, broccoli, kale greens, spinach, kelp, black strap molasses, tofu, cream of wheat, oatmeal, and raisins. If you cannot get enough through your diet then I recommend you supplement with ferrous fumarate as opposed to ferrous sulphate. Ferrous Fumarate is organic iron made from plant source and is more bioavailable and is usually does not cause constipation. It also boost your ferritin levels. Always consult your doctor before starting an iron regiment because too much iron can be toxic. Another safe way to increase iron levels is to use iron cast cookware in which research has shown can dramatically increases the iron content in many foods.

B12 deficiency

Vitamin B-12 deficiency is prevalent in vegetarians. The main reason is because this essential B vitamin is not found in plant based foods. As it relates to hair loss, vitamin B-12 deficiency can lead to an auto-immune condition called pernicious amenia. This condition occurs when the body cannot absorb enough vitamin B-12 from the digestive tract. Vitamin B-12 is necessary for the proper formation of healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells are needed to get oxygen to the hair. It is important to note the hair is comprised of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, and sulfur. As a result of low vitamin B-12 the hair becomes dry, brittle, and can lead to hair loss.

Taking a blood test can reveal if you are low in Vitamin B-12. If you are low then I strongly recommend that you increase your daily intake of meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and milk. Also adding more vitamin C and iron in your diet will aid in your body absorbing more B12.

Vitamin D Deficiency

Blood test range is 30-100. Vitamin D deficiency is one of the biggest medical breakthroughs of the decade. This is vitamin D from the sun not milk. It is called the Sunshine Vitamin because the skin makes it from ultraviolet rays from the sun. Vitamin D is the only vitamin that converts into a hormone in the body and has been linked to loss of bone density, auto-immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, and hair loss. The recommended level for vitamin D is 50 when you are losing hair. If your vitamin D is too low it is not uncommon for your doctor to prescribe Vitamin D3 at 50,000 iu’s taken once a week.

Zinc Deficiency

Zinc is important for the synthesis of collagen and protein in the human body and trace amounts are contained in hair. Zinc is vital to the health of your hair because hair itself is made up of cells containing proteins. Remember the main structural component of hair (keratin) contains amino acids which serve as the building block for proteins. So when zinc levels are low hair tends to become thinner and breakage normally occurs. Zinc deficiency can also affect the scalp and can lead to dandruff and dermatitis. This deficiency is particularly noted in men and can lead to male pattern baldness. Low zinc levels are linked to low testosterone and can affect the male prostate gland. So when zinc is low DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) levels rise which can miniaturize the hair follicle leading to hair loss.

Taking a zinc supplement is one of the cheapest ways to block DHT along with saw palmetto extract. A blood test can detect zinc deficiency in the body. You can correct this deficiency through your diet by eating more oysters, wheat germ, liver, pumpkin seeds, and peanuts.

Biotin Deficiency

Biotin is commonly called the hair vitamin. It promotes hair growth and prevents brittle, dry, and fragile hair. Biotin is also necessary for cell growth and the metabolism of amino acids. This is very important considering your hair contains amino acids that form hair strands. Severe biotin deficiency can lead to loss of hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows. Also known as Vitamin H or B7, Biotin is found in food sources such as egg yolk, kidney, liver, yeast, and milk. Also known as Vitamin H or B7, Biotin is found in food sources such as egg yolk, kidney, liver, yeast, and milk. When you are experiencing hair loss it is recommended to take 5000mcg of Biotin.

Sulphur Deficiency

If you have ever burned a strand of hair you notice that it smells like sulfur. Well that would be correct because sulfur is one of the main elements of hair. Hair comprises proteins called keratins which make up the disulfide bonds of hair from the amino acid cysteine. When two sulfur atoms pair and bond up this bond is created. Actually every cell in the human body contains sulfur. So not only does your hair suffer but your entire body as a whole will malfunction due to this deficiency. Sulfur deficiency is also associated with gastrointestinal problems, arthritis, acne and memory loss. Sulfur also known as the beauty mineral can not only increase the blood flow into the scalp it can nourish your hair follicles back to health. Top sources of sulfur include the supplement MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane), liver, broccoli, kale, legumes, fish, and eggs.

Tyrosine Deficiency

L-Tyrosine or tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid naturally occurring in the body. It is important for the production of Epinephrine and norepinephrine which are stress hormones. Tyrosine is a precursor to neurotransmitters found in the brain a key amino acid of the thyroid gland, adrenal, and pituitary. Tyrosine is also necessary to the production of melanin (hair color) in the hair. During high periods of stress there is a drop in the production of tyrosine that consequently reduces the amount of stress hormones available to cope with stress. As a result hair loss the side effect is stress induced hair loss such as telogen effluvium and alopecia areata. Consult with your doctor tor or Trichologist before taking this supplement for proper dosing. If you are taking an anti-depressant drug (MAO inhibitor) do not use tyrosine.

Silica Deficiency

Silica is one of the most naturally occurring mineral on earth. In fact it is second only to oxygen in abundance on earth. Our bodies contain large amounts of silica however, levels gradually decreases as we get older. Silica is necessary to maintain strong connective tissue and collagen production. Since your hair is anchored in adipose connective tissue, a silica deficiency will make this tissue lose elasticity and cause the hair bulb dislodge from the root. Have you ever noticed when you are shedding hair that on the end of the hair strand you see a white bulb? Once you see this then it’s time to add silica to your diet. Dietary sources include wheat bran, beets, kale, brown rice, soybeans. Supplements include silica from horsetail plant extract.

Magnesium deficiency

This deficiency is particularly important in women. These are environmental substances that when absorbed into the body called Xenoestrogens actually mimic the female hormone estrogen. By doing so this can cause a hormonal imbalance that will lead to hair loss. They are absorbed through the food we drink, eat, and though the skin. These substances are found in food additives such as propyl gallate which is used to prevent fats and oils from spoiling. Also, they are found in 4-hexyl resorcinol which is a food additive to lobster, shrimp and various shellfish from discoloring. Other sources include birth control pills, plastics (i.e. lunch wraps, bottled water), parabens (found in shampoos,conditioners, skin care products, toothpaste), PCB’s (found in contaminated fish, drinking water), pesticides, and in indoor air via older florescent lights found in schools and offices. Also magnesium deficiency is associated with auto-immune hyperthyroidism which is a leading cause of hair loss. Do not take magnesium supplementation without consulting your doctor especially if you take thyroid medication or blood pressure medication. Dietary sources include bananas, dried apricots, and avocados, peas, legumes, tofu, and brown rice, kelp, green beans, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, kale, cucumber, and bell peppers.

Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) Deficiency

This nutrient is vital to healthy hair. Pantothenic acid helps to metabolize and synthesize proteins in the body and since your hair is a protein it is important to get as much of this vitamin as possible in your diet. The lack of Vitamin B5 will leave your hair dry, brittle, and thin. Dietary sources include broccoli, avocados, whole grains, liver, mushrooms, cheese, and Wild Atlantic Salmon.

Copper Deficiency

Copper deficiency is often overlooked as a possible culprit to hair loss. Copper is vital in forming hemoglobin in the blood cells and assists in carrying oxygen in the red blood cells. A copper deficiency does not help the body to make the hemoglobin needed to carry adequate blood flow to the dermal papilla which is feed by the bloodstream to provide nutrients to the hair. As a result the hair will become very dry and brittle and the hair suffers malnutrition and will eventually start to fall out and thin. Copper is also responsible for the production of melanin (color) in the hair shaft. Therefore, the most visible sign of copper deficiency is loss of hair color. Also copper deficiency is linked to anemia which causes hair thinning and breakage. Dietary sources of copper include shellfish such as oysters, liver, beans, prunes, black pepper, whole grains, nuts, potatoes, and cocoa. Please note before starting a regiment of over the counter copper supplements please consult your doctor first because too much copper can be poisonous.

Essential Fatty Acids Deficiency

The most common indicators of Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) deficiency are dermatitis, dandruff, dry brittle hair,and eczema all of which lead to hair loss. EFA’s are polyunsaturated and super unsaturated acids, which our bodies need but cannot produce and as a result must be acquired in the diet. EFA’s help with cell growth and blood flow which is essential to healthy hair follicles. When your body is having an auto-immune disorder the normal response is cellular inflammation. Inflammation at bottom portion of the hair follicle (dermal papilla) will cut off necessary blood flow which carries nutrition into the hair follicle. By increasing your intake of EFA’s it may aid in a reduction of this inflammatory response and help the hair to rejuvenate itself. Dietary sources of EFA’s are Salmon, Mackerel, Herring, Salmon, almonds, flax seed, walnuts, broccoli, spinach, olive oil, turkey, and eggs. Taking a supplement containing EFA’s is not a bad idea as well.


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