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Vitamin D Deficiency and Hair Loss: What’s the Connection?

    Quick Summary: Vitamin D Deficiency and Hair Loss

    • What is Vitamin D? Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for the body. It is responsible for calcium absorption, bone health, immune function, and cell growth. Around 1 in 6 adults in the UK have vitamin D levels below government recommendations, with higher deficiency rates among older individuals, the housebound, and people with darker skin. This deficiency is more prevalent during spring and winter, when sunlight exposure is reduced.
    • Vitamin D and Hair Growth: Hair follicles contain receptors for vitamin D, suggesting it regulates hair growth. Deficiency may disrupt this cycle, leading to premature shedding.
    • Individualised Approach: If you’re experiencing hair loss and suspect a deficiency, consult your doctor. They can assess your situation, check your vitamin D levels, and create a personalised plan.
    • Management Options: May include dietary changes with vitamin D-rich foods, increased sun exposure with proper sun safety measures and taking vitamin D supplements.

    At The Treatment Rooms London, we understand that hair loss can be a frustrating concern, and are always happy to advise on the best management plan for you, and explore any causes.  While genetics play a major role, many other factors can contribute to hair thinning and shedding. One such factor that’s gaining increasing attention is vitamin D deficiency.

    What is Vitamin D?

    Vitamin D, often called the “sunshine vitamin,” is a fat-soluble vitamin essential for various bodily functions. Vitamin D exists in two forms – D2 and D3. Vitamin D2 is found naturally in sun-exposed mushrooms.  Interestingly, our bodies possess the unique ability to make vitamin D3 when exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from sunlight1

    Vitamin D regulates calcium absorption, which is crucial for strong bones and teeth. A deficiency in this vitamin can hinder bone mineralisation, leading to osteopenia or osteoporosis. It also plays a vital role in the immune system and cell growth2. While this vitamin is crucial, getting enough vitamin D can be challenging, especially in countries like the UK with less sunlight during winter. To discover more about other essential nutrients that contribute to hair growth, check out our comprehensive blog here.

    Vitamin D Deficiency

    Around 1 in 6 adults in the UK are reported to have vitamin D levels lower than government recommendations, with higher deficiency rates among older individuals and those that stay indoors constantly3. Research indicates that individuals with darker skin, such as those of Asian  and African descent, are more prone to vitamin D deficiency than individuals with lighter skin tones. Melanin, a pigment which gives skin its colour, naturally protects us from the UV rays of the sun. When absorption of these rays are reduced, the skin makes less Vitamin D3  as a result. Darker-skinned individuals have more melanin, and so are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency.
    In the UK, Vitamin D deficiency is more prominent during spring and winter, as there is less light (and UVB ray) exposure when compared to summer and autumn4

    The Link Between Vitamin D and Hair Loss

    Hair follicles go through a natural growth cycle with phases of growth, rest, and shedding. Vitamin D receptors are present in hair follicles, and research suggests a connection between vitamin D deficiency and hair loss. Here’s how:

    • Hair growth regulation: Vitamin D plays a role in regulating the growth phase of the hair follicles. Deficiency can disrupt this cycle, leading to premature shedding5.
    • Immune system: Vitamin D has immunomodulatory properties, meaning it helps regulate the immune system. Some hair loss conditions, like alopecia areata, involve an autoimmune response6. A lack of Vitamin D can cause an imbalance in the immune system, allowing autoimmune conditions to damage hair further. 

    Studies have shown an association between low vitamin D levels and various hair loss types, including:

    • Androgenetic Alopecia: A common form of hair loss that affects both men and women. It is characterised by a gradual thinning of hair, often starting at the temples or crown. Factors such as genetics, hormones, age and lifestyle influence this condition.
    • Alopecia areata: This autoimmune disease causes the immune system to attack hair follicles, leading to patchy hair loss.
    • Telogen Effluvium: A condition where hair enters the resting phase prematurely and falls out. This condition is often triggered by stress, hormonal changes, or nutritional deficiencies, and can cause diffuse thinning across the scalp7.

    It is important to note, however, that correlation doesn’t completely equal causation; while low vitamin D might be a contributing factor, it’s unlikely to be the sole cause of hair loss.

    Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

    Here are some signs that you might be deficient in vitamin D:

    • Excessive fatigue and weakness
    • Frequent infections
    • Bone pain
    • Muscle aches8

    If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s best to consult your doctor for a blood test to check your vitamin D levels.

    Treating Vitamin D Deficiency and Hair Loss

    Research suggests that taking vitamin D can help to overcome hair loss by stimulating the growth of new hair follicles9. There are several ways to address a vitamin D deficiency. These include natural vitamin D intake and the use of supplements. 

    Dietary adjustments 

    You are at increased risk of developing Vitamin D deficiency if you are vegan or vegetarian. If you are looking to increase your vitamin D levels if you have dietary restrictions you may need to take Vitamin D supplementation.

    If you are able to eat meat and fish, consume vitamin D-rich foods including:

    • Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel
    • Red meat
    • Liver (avoid if you are pregnant)
    • Egg yolks
    • Fortified foods – such as some fat spreads and breakfast cereals10

    We have an entire article that also explores how a balanced diet can help with your hair too. This can be found here:

    Increased sun exposure

    In the UK, the sun is strong enough to help your body produce vitamin D only during certain times of the year. Researchers have found that for lighter skin types – daily sunlight exposure for 10-15 minutes between April and September from 11 am to 3 pm provides sufficient year-round vitamin D. Individuals with darker skin tones require more sun exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D as those with lighter skin. For darker skin types, 25-40 minutes is recommended. Tailoring your sun exposure time to your skin type can help optimise vitamin D synthesis11.

    However, it’s essential to balance sun exposure with skin protection to prevent damage. Sunblock, or sunscreen, is vital for protecting your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays, such as sunburn and an increased risk of skin cancer. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) measures a sunscreen’s ability to protect your skin from UVB rays. For example, an SPF of 30 means it would take 30 times longer for your skin to burn than if you were not wearing any sunscreen. 

    While using sunblock is crucial, it’s also important to allow some unprotected sun exposure for a short duration to enable vitamin D production. Consider exposing small areas of your skin, such as your forearms and legs, to the sun for short periods without sunblock. Afterward, apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 if you plan to stay outside longer. This approach helps you reap the benefits of sun exposure while minimising the risks associated with prolonged UV exposure.

    Intake of Supplements

    Cloudy skies can significantly reduce the amount of UVB radiation that reaches your skin. Therefore, during the winter months, when UVB rays are weaker, consider vitamin D supplements to maintain adequate levels.

    Vitamin D supplements are available in various forms, such as capsules, chewable tablets, and liquid drops. According to the NHS, 10 micrograms per day will be sufficient for most people11, but recommended daily dosage of vitamin D varies depending on age, overall health, and severity of deficiency. It’s crucial to consult your doctor to determine the appropriate dosage for you. Taking too much vitamin D can be harmful, causing calcium buildup in the body which results in weakened bones and damage to your heart and kidneys12.

    Considering Hair Transplant Surgery

    If you are experiencing severe hair loss that persists despite taking vitamin D supplements and addressing any deficiencies, it may be time to consider more advanced treatments such as a hair transplant. Hair transplantation is a highly effective solution for restoring hair in areas of significant thinning or balding. This procedure involves the extraction and implantation of healthy hair follicles from a donor site to the affected areas, providing a permanent and natural-looking solution to hair loss. Our hair transplant specialist surgeons are available to help determine if this treatment is suitable for your situation, and can offer a comprehensive plan to restore your hair and confidence.


    While genetics play a major role in hair loss, vitamin D deficiency might be a contributing factor. Maintaining healthy vitamin D levels can promote a healthy scalp, potentially leading to thicker hair and reduced shedding.

    If you’re concerned about hair loss or suspect a vitamin D deficiency, consult your doctor. They can assess your individual situation, recommend a blood test to check your vitamin D levels, and create a personalised treatment plan that may include dietary changes, increased sun exposure (with proper precautions), or vitamin D supplements.


    1. Calame, W., Street, L. and Hulshof, T. (2020) ‘Vitamin D Serum Levels in the UK Population, including a Mathematical Approach to Evaluate the Impact of Vitamin D Fortified Ready-to-Eat Breakfast Cereals’, Nutrients, 12(6), 1868. Available at:
    2. Jones, G. (2014) ‘Vitamin D’, in Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 11th edn. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, pp. 278–292.
    3. Department of Health and Social Care and Javid, S. (2022) ‘New review launched into vitamin D intake to help tackle health disparities’. Available at:
    4. Lin, L., Smeeth, L. and Langan, S. (2021) ‘Distribution of vitamin D status in the UK: a cross-sectional analysis of UK’, BiobankBMJ, 11:e038503. Available at:
    5. Reichrath, J. (2006) ‘Hair follicle expression of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 receptors during the murine hair cycle’, British Journal of Dermatology, 131(4), pp. 477–482. Available at:
    6. Sakai, Y., Kishimoto, J. and Demay, M.B. (2001) ‘Metabolic and cellular analysis of alopecia in vitamin D receptor knockout mice’, Journal of Clinical Investigation, 107(8), pp. 961–966. Available at:
    7. Saini, K. and Mysore, V. (2021) ‘Role of vitamin D in hair loss: A short review’, Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 20(11), pp. 3407–3414. Available at:
    8. Sizar, O. (2023) Vitamin D deficiency, StatPearls. Available at:
    9. Natarelli, N., Gahoonia, N. and Sivamani, R.K. (2023) ‘Integrative and mechanistic approach to the hair growth cycle and hair loss’, Journal of Clinical Medicine, 12(3), p. 893. Available at:
    10. NHS. Vitamin D. Available at:
    11. Burchell, K., Webb, A., & Rhodes, L. (2019) ‘Sunlight exposure and vitamin D: Getting the balance right: sunlight exposure advice that ensures adequate vitamin D while minimising the risk of sunburn and cancer. Available at:
    12. Galior, K., Grebe, S. and Singh, R. (2018) ‘Development of vitamin D toxicity from overcorrection of vitamin D deficiency: A review of case reports’, Nutrients, 10(8), p. 953. Available at:

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