Which vitamin deficiency causes hair loss?

Hair loss is big problem for many people. Some of the causes for this condition can be deficiency of certain vitamins.

Which vitamin deficiency causes hair loss?
Viktor Simunović, Dr.med.
Dr.med. Viktor Simunović
22 March 2024.

Vitamins and minerals play a pivotal role in regulating hair growth and maintenance, with deficiencies linked to increased hair loss through various pathophysiological mechanisms. Essential nutrients are critical for the proliferation of hair follicle cells, and their deficiency can disrupt the hair growth cycle, leading to the miniaturization of follicles and eventual hair loss.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is increasingly recognized as a potential contributor to hair loss. Clinical evidence suggests that insufficient levels of Vitamin D can disturb the hair follicle cycle, manifesting in symptoms such as increased hair shedding.

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency

Deficiency in vitamin D can manifest through a range of symptoms like fatigue, bone pain, muscle weakness, and mood changes.

How to increase vitamin D levels?

To effectively elevate vitamin D levels, individuals can engage in regular sun exposure, consume fortified foods, and consider supplementation under medical guidance. However, geographical location, skin pigmentation, and lifestyle can limit UV exposure.

Fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, and cereals provide dietary sources of vitamin D. When prescribed by a healthcare professional, vitamin D supplementation can correct a deficiency for those unable to attain sufficient levels through sunlight and diet alone.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A deficiency includes vision issues and skin problems and extends to the weakening of hair follicles. Deficiencies cause changes in hair texture, leading to dryness and brittleness, which can result in hair loss.

Inadequate vitamin A levels disrupt sebum production in the scalp, which is essential for maintaining healthy hair. Moreover, the weakened immune response associated with this deficiency may increase susceptibility to scalp infections, further exacerbating hair loss.

Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency

Vitamin A deficiency, characterized by insufficient retinol levels, can manifest through clinical symptoms, including visual disturbances, impaired immune response, and skin issues.

How to increase vitamin A levels?

Foods rich in beta-carotene, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens, are excellent sources. Moreover, maintaining a balanced diet with sufficient vitamin C can enhance the absorption of vitamin A, as vitamin C deficiency might impair this process. Given the potential for toxicity with excessive intake, a cautious approach to supplementation is recommended.

Vitamin E

Deficiency in Vitamin E can present as hair thinning and increased oxidative stress on scalp tissues, leading to premature hair follicle aging. Vitamin E's antioxidant properties are vital in combating the free radicals that can damage hair follicles, leading to brittle hair.

Symptoms of vitamin E deficiency

Deficiency in vitamin E can manifest through several distinctive symptoms, including neuromuscular problems and impaired immune response. Without adequate vitamin E, individuals may notice their hair becoming increasingly fragile and prone to breaking, underscoring the importance of this nutrient in maintaining the structural integrity and health of hair.

How do you increase vitamin E levels?

Dietary modification is foundational, emphasizing the intake of vitamin E-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, and leafy greens. Supplementation may be warranted in cases of significant deficiency, as determined through serum levels of vitamin analysis.

Vitamin C

Insufficient vitamin C can hinder collagen production, a crucial protein for hair structure, potentially resulting in hair thinning. Additionally, this deficiency can precipitate iron deficiency, exacerbating the risk of hair thinning.

Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency

Typically, individuals with a vitamin C deficiency exhibit symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, and bleeding gums, indicative of the vitamin's essential role in overall health maintenance.

How do you increase vitamin C levels?

Dietary modification is the primary intervention, with an emphasis on incorporating foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, and dark leafy greens. Supplementation may also be considered in cases of dietary insufficiency or increased physiological demand. Adhering to recommended dietary allowances is vital, as excessive intake can lead to adverse effects.

Vitamin B9 (Folic acid)

Folic acid, a water-soluble B vitamin, is pivotal in cell growth and metabolism processes essential for hair follicle health and function.

Symptoms of folic acid deficiency

Folic acid deficiency can manifest through various symptoms, including fatigue, mouth sores, and changes in hair, skin, or nail quality. Additionally, individuals may experience a decline in cognitive function, presenting difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness.

How do you increase folic acid levels?

Increasing dietary intake of folate-rich foods is vital to mitigate the effects of folic acid deficiency. Leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, and whole grains are significant sources of folate, the natural form of folic acid.

Supplementation may be necessary for individuals unable to meet their folate requirements through diet alone. Adults' recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 400 micrograms of dietary folate equivalents (DFE) per day. However, specific conditions, such as pregnancy, may necessitate higher doses.

Vitamin B7 (Biotin)

Biotin has wide-ranging roles in metabolic and enzymatic processes within the body.

Symptoms of biotin deficiency

Biotin deficiency, clinically known as biotinidase deficiency, manifests through several dermatological symptoms, including hair thinning and loss, indicative of its critical role in skin and hair health. Beyond these dermatological signs, biotin deficiency can present with neurological symptoms such as depression, lethargy, and hallucinations, underscoring the vitamin's importance in neural function. Additionally, individuals may experience muscle pains and cramps, further complicating the clinical picture.

In infants, marked developmental delay or regression can occur, highlighting the necessity of early detection and intervention.

How do you increase biotin levels?

A dietary approach involving biotin-rich foods such as egg yolks, nuts (especially almonds, peanuts, and walnuts), whole grains, and organic meats is recommended to augment biotin intake.

Integrating biotin supplements under healthcare professional guidance can elevate biotin concentrations, especially in individuals with genetic disorders affecting biotin metabolism or those with increased requirements. Moreover, it is pivotal to minimize the intake of raw egg whites, which contain avidin that binds biotin and prevents its absorption.

Ensuring adequate gastrointestinal health, as gut bacteria synthesize biotin, also plays an important role in optimizing biotin levels.

Vitamin B6

Research suggests that sufficient levels of Vitamin B6 are necessary for protein metabolism and red blood cell formation, directly affecting hair strength and growth.

Symptoms of Vitamin B6 deficiency

Vitamin B6 deficiency can manifest through a range of clinical symptoms, including anemia, dermatitis, depression, confusion, and weakened immune function. These manifestations are rooted in B6's critical roles in amino acid metabolism, neurotransmitter synthesis, and hemoglobin production.

Dermatological symptoms may present as seborrheic dermatitis, characterized by scaly, itchy rashes on the scalp, face, and perioral area. Neurologically, the deficiency impacts the synthesis of key neurotransmitters such as serotonin and GABA, leading to mood disturbances, irritability, and cognitive dysfunction.

How to increase vitamin B6 levels?

Dietary sources abundant in B6 include poultry, fish, potatoes, chickpeas, bananas, and fortified cereals. Integrating these foods into the diet can effectively elevate plasma pyridoxal phosphate levels, the active form of vitamin B6, thereby mitigating associated deficiency symptoms.

Supplementation may be advisable under medical guidance for individuals unable to meet their dietary requirements through food alone.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, plays a pivotal role in cellular metabolism and DNA repair. Deficits of this vitamin have been linked to hair loss, among other symptoms.

Symptoms of vitamin B3 deficiency

A vitamin B3 deficiency manifests through a range of clinical symptoms, including dermatitis, diarrhea, and dementia. These manifestations form part of pellagra, a condition that primarily affects systems where rapid cell turnover occurs, such as the skin and gastrointestinal tract.

Dermatological symptoms include photosensitive rash, scaling, and skin thickening, particularly in areas exposed to sunlight.

Gastrointestinal manifestations can range from mild abdominal discomfort to severe diarrhea, contributing to malabsorption and nutritional deficits.

Neurological presentations may include memory impairment, cognitive decline, and mood disturbances, reflecting niacin's role in neuronal function.

How to increase vitamin B3 levels?

Incorporating a variety of niacin-rich foods into one's diet represents a foundational approach supported by evidence-based nutritional guidelines to enhance vitamin B3 levels. Primary sources include poultry, fish, whole wheat, and fortified grains, which are rich in niacin and contribute to its bioavailability. Additionally, legumes, nuts, and seeds are valuable plant-based sources that can help diversify dietary intake.

Supplementation may be considered under medical guidance for individuals unable to meet their niacin requirements through diet alone. Adhering to recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) is imperative to prevent niacin deficiency and mitigate potential adverse effects associated with excessive intake.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is essential for DNA synthesis, erythrocyte formation, and neurological function. Deficiency may result from inadequate dietary intake, malabsorption syndromes, or the use of certain medications. Clinical guidelines suggest that adults require approximately 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency manifests through various clinical symptoms, including neurological disturbances, hematological abnormalities, and cognitive impairments. Patients may experience peripheral neuropathy characterized by numbness, tingling, and altered sensations in extremities, indicative of nerve damage.

Hematologically, a deficiency can lead to megaloblastic anemia, where the bone marrow produces unusually large, structurally abnormal, immature red blood cells. This results in reduced oxygen transport, causing fatigue and weakness.

Cognitive effects can range from difficulty in maintaining concentration to severe memory loss, potentially escalating to dementia in prolonged cases. Additionally, individuals might suffer from mood swings, depression, or irritability, directly impacting mental health.

How to increase vitamin B12 levels?

Addressing a deficiency in vitamin B12 necessitates incorporating dietary sources rich in this nutrient, such as meat, fish, dairy products, and fortified cereals, or considering supplementation under medical advice.

For those unable to meet their needs through diet alone, cyanocobalamin or methylcobalamin supplements may be recommended. Intramuscular injections of vitamin B12 are an alternative for individuals with absorption issues.


Iron plays a pivotal role in synthesizing hemoglobin, a critical component for transporting oxygen in the blood.

Symptoms of iron deficiency

Iron deficiency, a prevalent condition worldwide, can manifest through various clinical signs, including fatigue, pallor, and shortness of breath. This condition, characterized by a decreased hemoglobin level in the blood, can also lead to symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, cold hands and feet, and brittle or spoon-shaped nails.

How to increase iron levels?

Incorporating iron-rich foods such as red meat, poultry, seafood, beans, and dark leafy greens into the diet is essential to effectively raising iron levels in the body. The bioavailability of heme iron, mainly found in animal sources, is notably higher than that of non-heme iron from plant-based foods.

However, the absorption of non-heme iron can be enhanced by consuming it alongside vitamin C-rich foods. Additionally, it is advisable to limit substances that can inhibit iron absorption, such as calcium, tea, coffee, and dietary fiber, during iron-rich meals.

Supplementation under medical supervision may be necessary for individuals unable to meet their iron requirements through diet alone, especially in cases of diagnosed iron deficiency anemia.


Shifting from the role of iron, we now shift our focus to zinc, a trace mineral crucial for hair follicle health. Zinc deficiency is clinically linked with symptoms such as hair thinning and loss, highlighting its essential role in hair regeneration and growth processes.

Symptoms of zinc deficiency

Various clinical signs manifest zinc deficiency, which is characterized by hair loss, impaired immune function, and delayed wound healing. Beyond these primary indicators, individuals with insufficient zinc levels may exhibit dermatological manifestations such as dry, flaky skin or the development of acneiform lesions, reflecting zinc's vital role in skin health and cell regeneration.

Additionally, zinc is pivotal in maintaining an ideal immune response; hence, deficiency can increase susceptibility to infections. Neurological symptoms, including mood disturbances and cognitive impairments, have also been associated with low zinc levels, underscoring its importance in neurotransmitter function and brain health.

How do you increase zinc levels?

Dietary sources rich in zinc include meat, shellfish, legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy, eggs, and whole grains. These should be incorporated into daily meals to guarantee adequate intake. Processes such as soaking, fermenting, and sprouting can enhance the bioavailability of zinc from plant-based sources.

For individuals unable to meet their zinc needs through diet alone, zinc supplements may be advised, under medical guidance, to prevent potential toxicity. It is imperative to adhere to recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for zinc, which vary by age, gender, and physiological status, to optimize health outcomes and mitigate hair loss associated with zinc deficiency.

What causes vitamin deficiency?

A primary cause is an insufficient intake of vitamins from the diet, often due to the limited variety or quantity of food consumed. Malabsorption issues, where the body cannot adequately absorb nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract, can arise from conditions such as celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and chronic pancreatitis.

Certain medications and treatments can also impair nutrient absorption or utilization, further exacerbating deficiency risks. Chronic alcoholism is another factor, as it can lead to diminished nutrient absorption and storage. Genetic predispositions may also influence an individual's ability to metabolize or utilize specific vitamins, necessitating a higher intake to maintain adequate levels.

Does hair lost from vitamin deficiency grow back?

Hair loss from vitamin deficiency is generally reversible, contingent upon timely and adequate nutritional intervention. Restoration of hair growth is predicated on replenishing deficient vitamins to ideal levels.

For instance, deficiencies in vitamins such as biotin (B7), folate (B9), and B12 have been closely linked to hair loss. These deficiencies impair the hair growth cycle, leading to telogen effluvium, a condition where hair follicles prematurely enter the resting phase of the hair cycle, resulting in increased hair shedding. Clinical evidence suggests that once the underlying nutritional deficiencies are corrected, a normal hair growth cycle can be restored, leading to hair regrowth.

However, it is imperative to address these deficiencies early, as prolonged nutrient depletion may lead to irreversible hair follicle damage.

Can too many vitamins cause hair loss?

Contrary to the belief that only a vitamin deficiency can trigger hair loss, excessive intake of certain vitamins has also been identified as a potential cause for this condition. Specifically, hypervitaminosis A, which occurs from an overconsumption of vitamin A, has been linked to hair loss. The mechanism behind this involves the retinol form of vitamin A, which, in high levels, can inhibit the hair follicle cycle, leading to a cessation of hair growth and subsequent hair loss.

Similarly, an excess of selenium, a trace element that plays a role in hair follicle function, can also lead to hair shedding.

Are the same vitamins that are good for hair, also good for the skin?

Surprisingly, many vitamins essential for maintaining healthy hair also play a significant role in skin health. Vitamins A, C, D, E, and B-complex, particularly biotin (B7), have been identified as pivotal nutrients supporting hair and skin physiology.

Vitamin A contributes to skin repair and maintenance by influencing cell growth and differentiation. Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, aids in collagen synthesis, essential for skin elasticity and hair strength. Vitamin D's role in immune regulation extends to skin health, preventing disorders that could affect hair follicles. Vitamin E provides photoprotection, reducing UV damage to skin and hair. Lastly, the B-complex vitamins, especially biotin, are fundamental in energy and amino acid metabolism, supporting the keratin infrastructure that underlies hair and skin integrity.

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