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Vitamin B12 deficiency

Can vitamin B12 deficiency cause hair loss?

What does Vitamin B12 do?

Vitamin B12 or cobalamin is an essential vitamin that is required for the body to make healthy red blood cells, as well as nerve cells and DNA. The human body needs Vitamin B12 to function properly. Vitamin B12 helps maintain healthy nerve cells and DNA. Vitamin B12 also helps maintain a healthy immune system.

Vitamin B12 is an essential water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in fish, seafood, meat or poultry, eggs, milk and milk products. The livers contain higher concentrations of Vitamin B12 than any other food - nearly 10 times higher than the next best food. Vitamin B12 is a specific type of vitamin B complex and its complex role cannot be replicated by simply consuming more of the other vitamins.

What are the Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

The common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include, weakness, fatigue, mood disorders, dizziness, shortness of breath, numbness, jaundice, blurry vision, hair loss, swollen tongue, mouth ulcers, burning sensation around the mouth, digestive issues, nausea, vomiting, gas, unhealthy weight loss. Premature greying can also indicate that your body is not getting enough Vitamin B12, which contributes to healthy hair growth and hair colour.

Early detection of Vitamin B12 deficiency can prevent neurological problems, blood diseases and physical impairments.

Hair Loss due to Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency can weaken the hair follicles and negatively affect melanin production.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to slow hair growth because the body struggles to replicate hair cells. Vitamin B12 helps in producing red blood cells and promotes healthy hair growth by feeding the hair follicles. 

Cobalamin produces red blood cells and a decreased number of red blood cells has been linked to iron deficiency. Both these conditions hamper hair growth, leading to hair loss or thinning from the scalp.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can take up to 6-12 months to fully recover.

Can Hair Loss due to Vitamin Deficiency be Reversed?

The best way to fight hair loss caused by vitamin deficiency is to plan a diet rich in Vitamin B12. You can also take Vitamin B12 supplements and other multivitamins that contain Vitamin B12.

Consult your doctor before taking Vitamin B12 supplements regarding the dosage because high doses may interact with certain medications.

Including some foods rich in Vitamin B12 can help in reversing hair loss. Eating meat and dairy can help in increasing Vitamin B12 in your body but you may struggle to meet the daily recommended value of Vitamin B12 if you are an older adult or have a digestive disorder that makes it difficult for your body to absorb Vitamin B12.

Some medications can also lower the Vitamin B12 levels in your body like proton pump inhibitors, H2 receptor antagonists and metformin.

Given below are some foods that contain Vitamin B12 and adding them to your diet will help you get rid of hair loss due to vitamin deficiency.

  • Chicken breast
  • Eggs
  • Yoghurt
  • Milk
  • Salmon
  • Clams
  • Beef livers
  • Tuna
  • Turkey
  • Pork
  • Crab
  • Oyster

What are the other Causes of Hairloss?

  1. Genetic Hair Loss: Hereditary-pattern baldness is the most common cause of hair loss. If you have a family history of baldness, you are very likely to experience hair fall due to genetic factors. This type of hair loss can begin as early as puberty because certain sex hormones trigger these hereditary hair losses.
  2. Hormonal Changes: Hair loss due to hormonal changes is usually temporary in nature. Your hair will start growing back without any treatments. Some hormonal changes that can cause temporary hair loss are:
  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause
  • Childbirth
  • Discontinuing the use of birth control pills

3. Medical Conditions: Medical conditions such as thyroid, diabetes, alopecia areata, scalp infections can cause hair loss. Certain medications used to treat health conditions like cancer, depression, heart problems, high blood pressure, etc. can also trigger hair loss.

Sometimes emotional or physical shock can also induce hair loss. These shocks include:

  • High fever
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Accident
  • Death of a close family member

Other causes of hair loss are:

  • Hair loss due to tight hairstyles or use of styling tools/heating tools
  • People with trichotillomania, which is a hair-pulling disorder, experience hair loss.
  • An imbalanced diet or lack of nutrients in the body can also lead to hair thinning.

Take Away

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a key nutrient for normal growth and development. It plays an important role in cell division and blood formation. Irregular levels of Vitamin B12 in the blood can cause problems in the functioning of the nervous system and can also lead to Anemia. Vitamin B12 deficiency also results in hair loss.

Vegans and vegetarians may find it more challenging to increase their Vitamin B12 intake but there are plenty of foods packed with vitamin b12 that can ensure you get the benefit of Vitamin B12. Some people with medical problems can also find it tough to get Vitamin B12, in that case, you can consult your doctor for better recommendations.