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Vitamin D and Hair Loss (Alopecia): New Research Confirms Link

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Vitamin D Receptors DO Play Role in Hair Loss, Although Effects of Vitamin D Itself Remain Unclear

Science has determined that defective vitamin D receptors in skin cells are responsible for at least one form of hair loss (alopecia), but the actual role of vitamin D itself remains unclear.

Back in February of last year (2011), the Vitamin D3 Blog published an article about Vitamin D Deficiency and Hair Loss, which at the time appeared to be accurate, but that nonetheless spurred quite a bit of controversy among readers. That particular post has been among the most read, and has attracted the most reader comments in the history of this website.

The gist of the post was that while plenty of speculation of a link between vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency and inexplicable and/or premature hair loss could be found online, at the time, we here at the Vitamin D3 Blog had been unable to confirm a scientific link between the nutritional insufficiency and hair loss. The post set off a firestorm of comments (which still arrive at a rate that exceeds our ability to moderate all of them in a timely manner) by readers who believe based on personal experience that such a relationship does in fact exist.

In the time since the previous post on the topic of vitamin D and hair loss went live, a number of studies have been released that Vitamin D3 and Hair Lossappear to validate the reader speculation regarding a possible association between low vitamin D and alopecia, which is a scientific term for baldness and/or hair loss.

According to one study conducted by a group of researchers at the Department of Medicine, Veterans Affairs Medical Center and University of California, both humans with certain mutations in their vitamin D receptors (VDR), and mice lacking in these receptors developed alopecia (baldness). In that study, the mice were born with a full coat of hair, but failed “to initiate normal hair follicle cycling”. The study concluded that the lack of vitamin D receptors resulted in the disruption of the hair follicle structure, which resulted in subsequent failures of hair follicle cycling. The researchers went on to state that such changes are associated with increased hair loss, suggesting that the mutated VDRs were at least partially responsible for the regulation of the gene that controls hair loss, and hence the hair loss itself. (1)

Another study conducted by scientists at the Department of Dermatology at the University of Texas and the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston “sought to evaluate the role that vitamin D and the vitamin D receptor play in the hair cycle and assess how this can be clinically applied to the treatment of hair disorders.” While it was determined that the vitamin D receptor does in fact play a role in hair follicle cycling, this receptor acts independently of vitamin D itself in this regard. The research concluded that treatments that up-regulate the vitamin D receptor may hold potential as a possible future treatment for hair disorders, and that further studies should be conducted on the matter. The researchers were quick to admit however, that the actual role of vitamin D in hair follicle cycling is not well understood, and that no conclusions could be drawn at this time about the role of the actual nutrient itself. (2)

In yet another study, this one conducted by the Endocrine Unit, Massachussetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, researchers found that by genetically tweaking the vitamin D receptor-null mice, alopecia could be prevented. Effectively, what they did was take VDR-null mice and mate them with in mice by mating them with two “highly expressing transgenic lines of mice expressing the human VDR” in order to obtain VDR-null mice expressing the human vitamin D receptor-transgene. Expression of the transgene (the one created by cross-breeding VDR-null mice with genetically-altered mice expressing the human VDR) in the VDR-null mice prevented alopecia (hair loss). Thus, the scientists were able to restore the VDR expression in the VDR null mice, preventing the hair cycle defect that leads to the development of alopecia. (3)

One final study worth mentioned a likelihood that keratinocyte is the actual cell responsible for the defective vitamin D receptors, which are believed to lead to alopecia (hair loss, baldness). This study, conducted by the same group of Boston-based researchers responsible for the latter of the three previous studies mentioned, concluded that keratinocyte, the predominant cell type in the epidermis (skin), is the “origin of the defect”. They went on to suggest that “this form of alopecia is due to absence of ligand-independent receptor function.” (4)

Perhaps the most promising study of all was one conducted by researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center/University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine. The very title of the abstract of their research sounds far more promising and to-the-point than those studies previously mentioned. The title reads: “Vitamin D3 analogs stimulate hair growth in nude mice”.  The study determined that “Vitamin D3 analogs dramatically stimulated the hair growth of nude mice,” adding that “Vitamin D3 analogs seem to act on keratinocytes to initiate hair follicle cycling and stimulate hair growth in mice that otherwise do not grow hair.” (5)

To conclude, science has determined that a genetic defect in the vitamin D receptors found in skin cells is responsible for at least one form of premature hair loss/baldness/alopecia, or whatever other term one wishes to assign to describe the condition. However, the relationship of the actual vitamin D levels of a person suffering from alopecia has not been established relative to the development of the condition. It may well be that the mutated vitamin D receptors prevent proper absorption of the nutrient, resulting in vitamin D deficiency, which could factor into the loss of hair. Or, it’s entirely possible that new research will determine conclusively that vitamin D itself has nothing whatsoever to do with the condition.

So, for those of you reading this in hopes of discovering how to re-grow your hair, vitamin D3 supplementation may help, but there is no direct scientific evidence to support any claim that it would. The Vitamin D3 Blog is neither suggesting or denying a relationship between an balding individual’s vitamin D levels and the condition of his or her hairline and scalp, nor are we encouraging those suffering from hair loss to go out and purchase supplements in hope of regrowing hair.

That said, if anyone suffering from premature hair loss or balding does decide based entirely upon his or her own rationale to purchase supplements for the purpose of attempting to reverse a receding hair line, we here at the Vitamin D3 Blog would most definitely like to be notified of the results. So if anyone reading this does decide to try vitamin D supplementation (hopefully using vitamin D3 as opposed to D2) in an effort to regrow hair, please fill out the contact form located on the Contact Us page of the site and share your story with us regardless of the end-result. If we receive enough responses, we may do a follow-up post on the subject comparing the results of the readers of this blog who tried D3 supplementation as a means of slowing and/or reversing hair loss or premature balding.


Written by Admin

January 14th, 2012 at 5:19 am

39 Responses to 'Vitamin D and Hair Loss (Alopecia): New Research Confirms Link'

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  1. I have been taking 4000IU of D3 for about 3 months. I have PCOS and upon having blood work, my doctor suggested D3 because my levels were low. I also have a male-patterned baldness due to the PCOS. After taking D3, I have noticed hair re-growth, although the amount of shedding has not decreased as much. However, I can definitely say that the vitamin has encouraged hair growth and my hair is a lot thicker than what it was when I started.

    Ayana W

    26 Jan 12 at 9:53 pm

  2. Thanks for this post. This pretty much confirms what I have been able to find on line, in that there is a casual link between Vitamin D and hair loss. Vitamin D obviously plays an important role in many biological functions, some to a greater degree than others, and a deficiency in Vitamin D is probably minor contributor to hair loss.

    Michelle

    28 Jan 12 at 10:35 am

  3. When I take vitamin d3 I notice a huge difference with my hair NOT falling out. Better than this is when I take vitamin d3 my muscles don’t hurt. I’ve got a slip disk and I dnt hurt. Now I make vitamin d3 an every day thing I do as I get out of bed in the morning. I notice I dnt hurt throughout the day. No more pain meds or clogged up tubs from the loss of my hair

    Nikki

    29 Jan 12 at 5:58 pm

  4. Hi. I have had considerable hairloss fromm the age of 21. I have only recently read about Vitamin D3. I am going to use it daily now for everyday and see if it makes any difference to my hair.
    Thanks, Paul

    Paul

    13 Feb 12 at 10:19 am

  5. Just wanted to throw in that I have been using Vitamin D3 for about 2-3months everyday now. I do not see any further progression in hair loss :) Still undetermined if I am growing new hair, but I am optimistic. If I do, I will certainly tell not only you, but the rest of the world.

    Brian

    19 Feb 12 at 12:54 pm

  6. Wonderful issues altogether, you just won a new reader. What would you suggest in regards to your publish that you just made a few days in the past? Any certain?

    female hair restoration

    23 Feb 12 at 2:10 am

  7. I started using D3. Let’s see……..

    adil

    1 Mar 12 at 1:09 am

  8. My daughter has been expriencing hair loss, I am going to try vitamin D3 and see if it has any positive effect on her.

    Ordena Thompson

    2 Mar 12 at 8:48 am

  9. Nice blog right here! Additionally your website rather a lot up very fast! What host are you using? Can I am getting your associate link in your host? I want my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

    nioxin

    4 Mar 12 at 1:13 am

  10. Hi Guys,

    Thanks for posting this information.

    I am suffering from the hair loss problem. In my recent check for the knee pain problem, I conducted the blood test for the vitamin D3 which confirmed that level of D3 is on border line.

    Well, Right now, I am under medication. What are the fast ways to increase the levels of vitamin D3. i will leyt you know if some improvements happen.

    Bye,

    Prashant

    Prashant Keluskar

    22 Mar 12 at 9:59 am

  11. my 18 year old son’s extremely thick hair just starting thinning. we did a complete blood work up & found out that his vitamin d level is extremely low. it was recmmended that he take 4000 units/day for several months & then have his levels rechecked. we found this article coincidentally after purchasing the vitamins that he started taking today.

    deena

    28 Mar 12 at 5:38 pm

  12. Well very interestingly, about 2 months ago I had a thorough blood test because I was in a terrible state of being and could not find out what was causing it. I have a history of thyroid and possible pituitary problems (trying to get to the bottom of it) and have had very high prolactin levels, extremes of BP, psoriasis, repeated skin yeast infections. Hair loss (male) has also been something I’ve suffered for nearing 20 years, since my late teens, especially at my temples…not crown. Well that blood test revealed vitamin D levels of 10 ng/ml and my doctor was not in the least concerned, but for me it waved a big red flag because *I* know how I feel, and that was significant to me. I followed my instinct to this and other similar sites with real info about vitamin D3, and self-prescribed a rather high dose in the short term. So far I have been taking 25,000 iu almost every day for the past 6 weeks, and I feel GREAT! I look better, feel better, my mood is better, I’m losing weight around my middle which has been there as long as my hair started to go no matter how skinny the rest of me was. Now I see my hair line filling in with see-through, very soft downy hairs…longer than the microscopic ones that used to be there…and I even start to see one or two coloured ones appearing. I have to say, I have been applying vit D3 mixed in a moisturiser to the area too for extra luck :) but it’s now something I can not ignore, hair is returning. William who replied to the last post on alopecia / vitd3 had the same thing and I’d love to have an update from him as to where this might be going. I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but it’s looking promising.

    koffiekonijn

    3 Apr 12 at 4:52 am

  13. @koffiekonijn Wow! What a fascinating story! Thanks for sharing!

    Admin

    5 Apr 12 at 1:35 am

  14. @Deena, Thank you for sharing your story, and I certainly hope the supplements are able to help reverse the hair loss and hopefully help regrow his hair.

    Admin

    5 Apr 12 at 1:38 am

  15. @Prashant,

    Make sure the supplements you decide to go with are high-quality. Low quality supplements found at grocery stores and pharmacies are not well absorbed and not manufactured to the quality standards of an elite supplement. Douglas Labs, Pamela Egan / Egan Wellness Clinic and Biotech are three of the most trusted brands in terms of quality.

    Admin

    5 Apr 12 at 1:50 am

  16. @Nioxin

    We host the site with a company called GoDotYourself.com. They’re a lot like GoDaddy, only without the annual price increases.

    Admin

    5 Apr 12 at 2:28 am

  17. Ordena,

    Please follow-up with us and keep us posted on how she does with the supplements.

    Admin

    5 Apr 12 at 2:29 am

  18. @Female Hair Restoration, I’m not sure I understand your question.

    Admin

    5 Apr 12 at 2:34 am

  19. Brian, that is awesome! I’m thrilled for you that at the very least the hair loss has ceased.

    Admin

    5 Apr 12 at 2:37 am

  20. What should be the dosage of vitd3?

    nuzat

    11 Apr 12 at 9:12 am

  21. I just actually went to google and was surprised to find many articles in Vitamin D3 and Hair loss,

    Have to order some and try it soon. I am a big believer in supps and Vit D3 was on my list even before this.

    Danny

    20 May 12 at 2:49 am

  22. Well, duh!!! Vitamin D3 can be obtained from the sun…GO OUTSIDE!! You never see a fit, tan, healthy bald person…they usually look somewhat unhealthy or are overweight. Also, you are what you eat…eat healthy, stop smoking, drink moderately. You need to go outside at least once a day for about 15 minutes(when the sun is out–midday). Go running for 15 minutes as running moderates/regulates testosterone in your body and is also a great DHT inhibitor. If you want to learn how to not be bald you are going to have to learn from our ancestors. Just look at indigenous people who still live in tribes in remote areas of the globe. They eat to survive, they constantly are running or doing something active, they drink water all the time and they sweat a lot…they don’t smoke all the time. I don’t know about you but I’ve never seen a bald indigenous person. Also, forgot to mention, sodas are just as bad as cigarettes…especially when you are drinking in quantities of 44oz at a time. Nothing is good in excess. I was born with a strangely receding hairline(or big forehead whatever you want to call it) and the men on my mother’s side of the family are all bald…they are also overweight and lazy. My hairline started receding when I was in college partying all the time, drinking…not being healthy. I started being healthy and my hair grew back and it’s healthier than it’s ever been. It can be done…you just gotta change your ways. Pills and formula’s might work, but are the side effects worth it?

    Ken

    29 May 12 at 7:12 am

  23. Have your levels tested and ask your doctor.

    Admin

    3 Jun 12 at 5:52 am

  24. I’ve had alopecia areata for about 6 years. After about three years of frustration (hair would grow in spring/summer, fall out in fall/winter), I asked the doc to test my vitamin levels. Found that my D was at around 10. Started taking supplements, 2,000 IU first which did not really increase my count much. Moved to 3,000 IU and my count moved up to about 20. At this point I also noticed my hairless “spots” filling in (head and chest). Moved to 5,000 IU, which is where I am now. My hair really is filling in nicely. Not sure what caused the D deficiency to begin with. I think it started when I used to live where it rained a lot, thus not as much sunshine. Or, perhaps the increased use of sunblock when I did see the sun? I am above average active and eat well (healthy, balanced diet). Guess I can’t really say vitamin D is the reason, but I’m not sure why else my hair would grow back now.

    Hair today

    18 Jun 12 at 5:54 pm

  25. 20 years of age about to be 21… hair line reeceding in early ages of 20.. went to the doc a month ago for some blood work and found out iam vitamin d deficient (19 ng/ ml ). i startd taking( right after doc appt) D3 1000 iu. its been 2 days i think its too early to say but already iam seein less hair fall out and less thinning on my hair line . i might just have too high of hopes that this is the cause but ill keep posting in the comin month on my results.

    vans$wagger

    23 Jun 12 at 5:56 pm

  26. I was told by my doctor that I was severely vitamin D deficient and that I needed to take supplements at very high doses. At the time I was experiencing (what I thought was) postpartum shedding. The shedding dramatically decreased when i began taking the supplements but because I assumed the shedding was hormonal I did not make the connection between its cessation and D3 supplementation. After a few months of taking the D3 supplements I stopped (primarily because I just kept forgetting). I started experiencing shedding again. At the same time I was experiencing acne and I heard that vitamin D3 was useful at treating acne so I started taking the supplements again. After a a week or so of regularly taking the D3 supplements the shedding again stopped. Seeing the connection I decided to test it by discontinuing the supplements. Sure enough after a few weeks the shedding began again. I am now a believer and take my supplements regularly.

    Michelle

    19 Aug 12 at 5:28 pm

  27. Good afternoon. I plan to repost soon with some results so hopefully this will be helpful to all of those out there struggling with hair loss.

    I am a female, 41, and I have been dealing with adrenal exhaustion. I have been seeing a holistic doctor who advised me to go outside in the sunshine each day for 15 minutes. However, working a full day job has prevented this. I realize the purpose though, was for Vit D3 to be absorbed into my bloodstream to boost immunity and a host of other “good stuff”.

    Lately I have realized that in the past year, my thick hair has thinned to almost half, my temples have receded and my eyebrows are nearly bald which is the most upsetting thing for me as at least I can wear a hat if needed for my hair.

    Today, I started taking Vitamin D3, so far I have taken 2 pills, one with mid afternoon breakfast and another with late afternoon lunch. I eat healthy organic food and drink only pure chlorine and flourine free water. It does seem like my arm doesn’t hurt today after taking the supplement as usually I have a sore ache in my right upper arm that seems to come from the bone.

    I went online to see what Vitamin D might do for hairloss and found this forum. This is most motivating as I do hope to recover my hairline and eyebrows.

    I do plan to add L-taurine to my regimen as from what I read, this amino acid helps to re-grow hair and at least stop the hair falling out. What I know about aminos though is that you have to go slow as to not get out of balance so I will take a small amount with water each day and report on this as well.

    Also, last week I started to take the powdered collagen and mix in water on an empty stomach, this is supposed to help skin, bone, hair, etc..

    Just a side note, I always use supplements that do not have any binders, especially not magnesium sulfate. Currently I am purchasing my aminos and vit D from a company called nutrabio and most other products from vitacost for the best deals but with the vitacost I have to look carefully to ensure the ingredients are good.

    Ok guys.. that is my shared insight and hope it helps all of you. Please keep this forum updated with anything new that might help. I will do the same.

    peace & love,
    Stacie

    Stacie

    28 Aug 12 at 3:52 pm

  28. I was diagnosed with Alpoecia Universalis 2.5 years ago and lost all of my hair on my entire body. I started taking vitamin D3 last spring because the doctor told my husband that most people in our area do not get enough sunshine and have low Vitamin D levels. About three months later I started noticing hair on my legs, arms, pubic area and now I even have a few eyelashes. Still no hair on my head but I am optimistic. I am totaling convinced that the Vitamin D3 is the reason I am growing hair again.

    Jennifer DeHart

    15 Oct 12 at 2:31 pm

  29. My hair started falling out 3 months ago and a blood test the only result was vitamin d defficient. I’ve been taking 3000UI a day since. Hair is still falling out, but in the past month I’ve also had some regrowth.
    I’m going to go get my blood done again to see what level I am now

    ano

    30 Oct 12 at 11:14 pm

  30. Yes, I have studied different articles on websites and the relation between hair loss and vitamin D3 has been proven.

    Nathan

    28 Nov 12 at 11:24 pm

  31. I take about 1000 mg of d3 suplement daily and have been for a long time but about a month ago I started applying 1000 mg liquid vitamin d3 to my bald scalp and I do have some hair growth. I will say I have more growth than I did with rogaine. Not to say I have a full head of hair or anything like that but I do have some shafts of hair I can actually see. I am 53 yrs old and have been balding from my late teens.

    Glen

    5 Dec 12 at 6:23 pm

  32. I have been losing hair since i was 20 years of age. However i moved from Nevada to Washington state at the age of 26, I noticed my hair start to fall out at a very fast pace. I didn’t understand what was happening and i tried many of the typical hair loss treatments without any success. I am now 29 and started taking 7000 IU of vitamen d. I have noticed my nails and cuticles go from very dry to normal looking. My energy levels and general overall state of being have greatly improved. I have been on vitamen D for a week, and in this week i haven’t noticed any hairs on my head fall out even if i try to pull them out. It a very short test period, i will write again later with more results.

    Steven

    19 Jan 13 at 11:24 pm

  33. People! It really works for me! Just don’t forget to take vitamin K2 along with D3. It will prevent soft tissue calcification. It’s very important. Second thing is that you have to monitor D3 level in your blood. To high may be toxic. I’m 27 years old male, and I was balding seriously. It looked pretty bad. I started to take D3 in January. In March my hair really started to grow back! I take 4000 IU every day, and check D3 levels every month.

    Norman

    29 Mar 13 at 4:01 am

  34. Norman, thanks for sharing your story. I’m going to have to look into the vitamin K2 bit, as this is the first I’ve read about it. Assuming everything checks out, you can expect to see a follow-up post highlighting the importance of taking the two together.

    If you’re willing to be interviewed for the story, let me know via the contact form on the Contact Us page.

    Thanks,

    Peter Egan

    Editor-in-Chief

    Admin

    29 Mar 13 at 7:07 am

  35. I have to warn you that I have problems with kidneys after taking 8000 IU every day for about two months. I would not recomend to take such a big dose. My level of creatinine is to high. Now I have to see a doctor. I think 2-3000 IU should be max.

    Tom

    19 May 13 at 11:06 am

  36. Tom, to solve your problems you have to take some more things along with vit D3, like: magnesium, K2, zink, a bit of boron (raisins), and very important: Beta Carotene (carots and apricots). I had some pain form not taking those co-factors so I think they are very important.

    Norman

    7 Aug 13 at 7:22 am

  37. Its good research there is relation between vitamin d and hair loss but research is not enough because people still losing their hair trying to get research on bio hair treatment its a good topic for research

    susan

    29 Nov 13 at 4:14 am

  38. Informative post. Thanks for sharing. Many reasons are there for hair loss, and vitamin D deficiency is one of them. If you are having premature hair loss, it is not good for you to go blindly to the vitamin D supplement. Firstly, find out the root cause for the hair loss, if the problem is Vitamin D deficiency, then you can take the supplements.

    Janet Diaz

    9 Apr 14 at 6:08 am

  39. Hey, thanks for the post.Really thank you! Really Cool.

    Johnd893

    8 May 14 at 1:22 am

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