Are you experiencing hair loss? Does this cause concern or embarrassment for you? Did you know that experts have found a relationship between vitamin D and hair growth?
Vitamin D is important for normal function in many parts of the body. This includes the hair follicles of your scalp. Continue reading to learn more.
What Is Vitamin D?
All skin has a form of cholesterol called 7-dehydrocholesterol. This cholesterol produces a natural type of vitamin D.
The ultraviolet B (UVB) rays in sunlight change this skin cholesterol into vitamin D3. In the liver, extra oxygen and hydrogen molecules attach to the vitamin D.
The body can’t use vitamin D until it goes to the kidneys. In the kidneys, more oxygen and hydrogen attaches to create the active form, calcitriol.
Why Is Vitamin D Important?
In the early 20th century, doctors discovered 13 vitamins. Vitamin D was one of them. Vitamins are essential to our body’s metabolism even though you only need tiny amounts.
Vitamins, or organic chemicals, come from dietary sources. The body can’t make them on its own. Vitamin D is one of the 4 fat-soluble vitamins which deviate from the “vitamin rules”.
Technically speaking, these fat-soluble vitamins aren’t true vitamins. This is because the human body can produce small amounts. Even when you get vitamin D from food, the body has to change it before it can use it.
We need vitamin D to actively absorb Calcium and Phosphorus. It also regulates how the body uses these chemical elements.
Vitamin D plays an important role in the production and number of cells used to repair bones. It also keeps calcium and other minerals from being flushed out by the kidneys.
How Does Your Body Get Vitamin D?
One of the biggest ways to increase vitamin D in your body is via the conversion of skin cholesterol by UVB. The body is only able to absorb a certain amount of vitamin D at a time. Thus, extra time in the sun only increases the risk of skin cancer.
Most people's bodies don't make enough vitamin D. We must eat vitamin D fortified foods and take supplements. Daily exercise also helps to increase vitamin D production.
We can get about 5% to 10% of vitamin D by eating fish and eggs. Today, margarine, bread, cereals, and some milk is fortified with vitamin D.
Individuals who follow a vegan diet have an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency. It’s even more important to expose large surface areas of your skin to steady sunlight. Also, consider supplements.
Causes of Hair Loss
Hair loss causes anxiety for many people, especially women. There are several factors that can contribute to alopecia (hair loss).
Tradition teaches South Africans and other women of colour that braiding promotes hair growth. A Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology study addressed alopecia. They found that one-third of women from African descent suffered from “traction alopecia’.
Traction alopecia describes hair loss caused by damage to the hair follicles. This damage results from repeated tension and pulling. The continuous practice of braiding and plaiting the hair causes this condition.
Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center studied 6,000 women of African descent. About 48% of the subjects reported hair loss on the crown of their head. The primary cause was traction alopecia.
Hairstyling is not the only cause of hair loss. It can also occur due to genetic factors. Alopecia may occur due to thyroid problems or iron and vitamin deficiencies. Childbirth, stress, and birth control pills have also been associated with alopecia.
Vitamin D and Hair Growth
Those who live in Australia and South Africa experience year-round sunshine. Their lifestyle commonly involves a lot of time outdoors. Thus, it seems surprising that vitamin D deficiency would be a prevalent problem.
Yet, it often occurs. Vitamin D deficiencies can trigger autoimmune reactions in at-risk people. This reaction involved the body attacking its own tissue such as the skin and thyroid gland.
Autoimmune conditions can include inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, vitiligo, and alopecia. Insufficient vitamin D levels can also have a negative effect on hair growth. This is due to the disruption of the thyroid-adrenal function.
The scalp has vitamin D receptors. Hair follicles need enough vitamin D for hairs to reach maturity.
Factors Contributing to Poor Vitamin D Absorption
Scientifically speaking, the full torso needs sun exposure without sunscreen. This allows the synthesis of therapeutic levels of vitamin D from the sun.
This obviously goes against most religious and/or cultural morays for women today. In fact, Islamic and sub-continent women have a high rate of vitamin D deficiency.
From an opposite stance, women over the age of 40 with very tanned or sun-damaged skin are at risk. Their damaged skin doesn’t absorb the UVB necessary to convert the skin cholesterol.
Some genetic conditions cause low vitamin D levels. They can slow vitamin synthesis and conversion. Since it's a fat-soluble vitamin, problems in the gut or biliary system also compromise absorption.
Full-blood Aborigines, Pacific Islanders, Sub-Continent, or African immigrants need more time in the sun. It can take 5 to 10 times more sun exposure to synthesize equal amounts of vitamin D compared to a fair-skinned person.
Vitamin D deficiency can occur due to liver problems and certain medications. Significant air pollution can block UVB sunlight and present a contributing factor.
What to Do If You Want to Take Vitamin D for Your Hair
It’s advisable to consult with a healthcare provider if you have concerns about hair loss. This allows them to check for other contributing factors. If you are vitamin D deficient, you’ll often start taking 1000IU per day of vitamin D for 3 to 6 months.
After that time, further testing will measure if this is the correct dose. The provider may have you increase your dose as needed. Achieving optimal levels increases the effectiveness of taking vitamin D for hair growth.
It’s important to follow your practitioner’s advice for taking vitamin D supplements. Large amounts can cause a toxic response.
Are You Looking for Ways to Enhance Your Health?
You have learned in this article about the connection between vitamin D and hair growth. This represents one of the consequences of inadequate vitamin levels.
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