Searching online for reasons why your hair is falling out, you may come across content stating that vitamin B12 deficiency causes hair loss. Since approximately 40% of the Western population has low or marginal amounts of this nutrient , that information may have you concerned. Could your hair loss be the result of a B12 deficiency?
Fortunately, it is unlikely that your hair thinning is caused by your B12 levels. While more research is needed on this subject, the studies that have been conducted so far have not revealed any causal relationship between this vitamin deficiency and excessive hair shedding .
While it is true that some patients with conditions such as alopecia areata or chronic telogen effluvium also present low levels of B12, no indication has been found that the vitamin deficiency has caused hair loss or made these conditions worse. Moreover, supplementation has not been found to improve the hair shedding .
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Vitamin B12 is a micronutrient commonly found in foods such as liver, fish, meat, eggs, cereals and dairy. However, if a deficiency is present, it can also be administered as a supplement . The daily recommended dose of B12 for healthy adults is 2-4 micrograms per day, according to recent studies .
Since B12 has a low potential for toxicity, there is no upper threshold on how much of this vitamin it is safe to ingest – absorption rates decrease on their own when you have a sufficient amount in your system and it does not get stored over safe levels . However, you can get too little B12, and many people do.
Vitamin B12 deficiency stems from a restrictive diet or absorption issues. If you eat enough foods that contain this vitamin and are still experiencing a B12 deficiency, your body may not be able to absorb the necessary amounts. This can happen due to conditions such as anaemia, gastrointestinal surgery or prolonged use of certain medications. Thus, the elderly, people with anaemia or gastrointestinal disorders and vegans are most predisposed to developing B12 deficiency .
Since vitamin B12 plays a significant role in keeping your blood and nervous cells working in good order and contributes to the synthesis of your DNA, it is essential to get serious deficiencies treated . So if you develop critically low levels of this vitamin, you may need to receive B12 injections or high-dose oral supplements.
The most common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are as follows :
At this time, there is insufficient evidence that B12 deficiency causes hair loss . While few studies addressed the relationship between this micronutrient and hair shedding, most of them found no outstanding B12 deficiency in patients with different types of alopecia.
Three studies conducted in Turkey, on a total number of 147 patients with alopecia areata revealed no differences in B12 levels between the test group who experienced hair loss and the healthy control groups .
Similarly, a different study  conducted on 115 patients with chronic telogen effluvium showed that only 2.6% of them had a B12 deficiency and there was no evidence that it was contributing to their condition. While a different article  performed on 100 Indian women with telogen effluvium, found a B12 deficiency in 36% of the participants, none of the two had control groups of people without hair loss to compare their vitamin levels.
Judging by the fact that B12 deficiency rates vary widely with the definition used for it (e.g. it can range between 3%-40% in older adults, depending on how it is calculated ), the two findings are not necessarily comparable.
Moreover, scientists who looked into the causes of trichodynia (burning scalp syndrome) in 91 patients with androgenetic alopecia and telogen effluvium found no significant differences in B12 levels between the test and control groups .
Finally, a small study performed on 11 women with female pattern baldness revealed no indication that lower levels of serum B12 increased hair loss .
Considering the current lack of substantial evidence to show that vitamin B12 contributes in any way to hair loss, supplementation is not recommended at this time for any type of alopecia or hair shedding .
Researchers believe that this nutrient may play a role in hair follicle development and metabolism, alongside vitamin B9 (folate). Since they are involved in the synthesis of DNA and proteins, having a B12 or folate deficit can slow down their production, impairing cell functions .
One in-vitro study suggests that B12 supplementation may be able to stimulate follicles for quicker hair growth after a hair transplant, which may lead to other applications for hair regeneration . However, more research is needed to understand and confirm this effect.
While lower levels of B12 have not been proven to cause hair loss, deficiency has been associated in relevant literature with premature hair greying . A study conducted on 52 people under 20 years of age with premature greying revealed a B12 and folic acid deficiency in the test group which was not also reflected in the control group .
Having a clinical deficiency of Vitamin B12 can cause anaemia, which is known to accelerate hair loss. However, while B12 supplementation can prevent further hair shedding, there is, unfortunately, no guarantee that your hair will grow back once you have corrected the deficiency.
If you are experiencing hair loss and have reasons to suspect nutritional deficiencies (e.g. a restrictive diet), it is best to get some blood tests, to rule out anaemia. Furthermore, seeing a trichologist from the first signs of hair thinning and balding can help you get a timely diagnosis of the condition which is making your hair thin. This way, you get treatment sooner and increase your chances of seeing hair regrowth.
There are several nutrients the absence of which has been proven to cause hair loss. Here are some of the most common:
If your hair is falling out, your thinning may be caused by one of many conditions that cause hair loss. The most common of them are:
One of the most common types of alopecia, male/female pattern baldness is caused by age, and genetic and hormonal factors .
This condition causes temporary hair loss and it is triggered by physical and emotional trauma. It normally resolves itself in under 6 months if the triggering event is removed .
This autoimmune condition can take several forms. Rarer ones include ophiasis alopecia, alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis .
Wearing tight hairstyles, such as braids or ponytails can cause hair loss. This type of temporary hair shedding is called traction alopecia and often resolves itself once you stop putting pressure on your hair roots .
Common scalp problems
Conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, scalp psoriasis or scalp folliculitis can lead to hair loss in the affected areas. Fortunately, treating them often results in hair regrowth.
Depending on the condition, the symptoms may vary, but they can often include:
Lifestyle-induced hair damage
Excessive use of heat-styling or harsh chemicals such as bleach or hair dye can cause hair loss. Smoking and vaping can cause hair loss as well and excessive exposure to sunlight is not good for your hair, as it can lead to oxidative damage.
The most common symptoms of lifestyle-induced hair damage are:
Are you wondering whether your hair is thinning or you are being paranoid? While some hair loss is normal in the shower, if you are routinely shedding more than 50-100 strands each day, your concern may be well founded. That is why the best course of action is to book a consultation with a trichologist.
They will perform a careful examination of your hair and scalp and accurately determine your diagnosis. Then, they will recommend the most appropriate personalised treatment for your condition. This may include efficient medications (such as Minoxidil or Finasteride), therapies (e.g. derma rolling for hair growth or low-level light therapy for hair growth) or surgical options, such as a hair transplant.
Whatever their recommendation might be, you can rest assured that your hair is in the best hands and that they will be doing everything in their power to help you regrow fuller, healthier locks.
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