8 Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies That Can Lead to Hair Loss

8 Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies That Can Lead to Hair Loss

Hair loss can be devastating. But for some people, preventing it can be as easy as making sure you’re getting enough of the right vitamins and minerals. Both are factors that play essential roles not only in overall health but specifically in the growth and health of hair follicles too.

If you're wondering what vitamin deficiencies cause hair loss, check out this list of vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy hair growth. Then, make sure you’re getting enough to sustain the luscious locks you love. Though most nutritionists will suggest you get them naturally through the food you eat, supplements are an alternative and functional approach to beating deficiencies and keeping hair strong.

1. Vitamin A

Vitamin A, often known as retinol or retinoic acid, is essential to cell growth, including cells that make up the hair follicles. It also helps in the creation of sebum, an oily substance that helps prevent the breakage of hair. 

For the average adult, 1300 mcg per day is recommended by the National Institute of Health. It’s important not to consume too much vitamin A though, as extremely high doses can be toxic and may even contribute to hair loss. Dairy products such as cheese, milk and yogurt are great sources of vitamin A, and it can also be found in some fish and liver.

Beta-carotene, which can be converted by the body into retinoic acid, can also be used to get your daily dose of vitamin A. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and yellow fruits such as mangos are excellent sources of beta-carotene. 

2. B-Vitamins 

There are eight water-soluble vitamins in the vitamin B family that contribute to cell metabolism. Of those, only riboflavin (B2), biotin (B7), folate, and Vitamin B12 have been shown to need supplementation in order to prevent or decrease hair loss.

Riboflavin (B2) 

Riboflavin acts as an antioxidant to help healthy hair production and maintenance. It is rare for riboflavin deficiency to occur in the US, but it does cause hair loss. 

Adult men are recommended to get 1.3 mg per day while adult women should get 1.1 mg per day unless they are pregnant or lactating. Pregnant women should get 1.4 mg per day while lactating women should get 1.6 mg. Riboflavin is naturally occurring in meat, milk and green vegetables and is added to many enriched grain products such as cereals and bread.

Biotin (B7) 

Biotin helps stimulate the production of keratin and can improve follicle growth. It is frequently used in the treatment of weak hair and nails, with many supplements available on the market, and there is no known level of biotin that causes toxicity.

Biotin’s recommended intake for adults is 30 mcg per day and 35 mcg for those who are breastfeeding. It's found naturally in milk, eggs and bananas.


Folate, sometimes called folic acid, is important in the production of new cells and hair growth. It’s especially vital to women who are or may become pregnant.

The average adult should consume 400 mcg per day, while those who are pregnant should strive for 600 mcg. Those who are breastfeeding are recommended to get 500 mcg. Broccoli, leafy greens, chickpeas and nuts all have folate in them, and many foods are fortified with folate, particularly grain products such as breads and cereals.

Vitamin B12 

Vitamin B12 is important in making DNA and helps promote the growth of healthy hair. Vitamin B12 deficiencies have been shown to increase hair loss.

The National Institutes of Health recommend adults get 2.4 mcg per day. Pregnant individuals should get 2.6 mcg, while those who are breastfeeding should get 2.8 mcg. Vitamin B12 is naturally occurring in meat, fish, eggs and milk. Many other foods, especially grain products, have been fortified with B12.

3. Vitamin C 

Vitamin C is vital in protecting the hair from damage caused by free radicals. It’s also important in the use of iron, which plays a key role in keeping hair healthy and growing. 

Adult men are recommended to get 90 mg of vitamin C per day and adult women should get 75 mg. Pregnant women should get 85 mg before giving birth and 120 mg while breastfeeding. Vitamin C can be found in cantaloupe, citrus fruits, blackcurrants, brussels sprouts and peppers.

4. Vitamin D 

Vitamin D helps to regulate cell cycles and stimulates hair follicles to keep hair healthy and growing. For those with telogen effluvium and androgenic forms of hair loss, vitamin D can be helpful, and vitamin D deficiencies have been associated with hair loss, particularly female pattern hair loss. 

It’s recommended that adults get 10 mcg of vitamin D per day. If you’re spending a lot of time indoors you may need extra, as vitamin D is derived from direct sunlight. Salmon, sardines, red meat, egg yolks and liver are all good sources of vitamin D, and there are some select foods that are fortified with it.

5. Vitamin E

Vitamin E contributes to healthy oxidant and antioxidant balance. It also works to increase circulation at the scalp, which is vital to hair growth. 

Adults should get 15 milligrams of vitamin E per day. Vitamin E can be found in many oils including hazelnut oil, wheat germ oil, sunflower oil and almond oil. It also can be obtained through sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts and some fish like salmon and rainbow trout.

6. Iron 

When it comes to nutritional deficiencies, iron is at the top: it’s the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. Women are especially likely to experience iron deficiency, particularly those who are still menstruating. Iron deficiencies are associated with hair loss too.

The National Institute of Health recommends that adult men get 8 mg per day. Adult women should get 18 mg per day. Those who are pregnant should try to get 27 mg while. Iron can be found naturally in red meat, spinach, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, liver and legumes.

7. Zinc 

Zinc cannot be created by the body; it has to be ingested through food or supplement intake. It’s vital to hair growth and quality, and it plays a role in keeping oil glands surrounding hair follicles healthy. Alopecia, a common form of hair loss, is known to sometimes result from zinc deficiency.

All adults are recommended to get 40 mg of zinc each day. This is not affected by pregnancy or lactation. Oysters are by far the greatest source of zinc, with a whopping 74 mg per three ounces, but it can also be found in beef, crab, lobster, pork, some beans and chickpeas.

8. Selenium 

Selenium is essential for the synthesis of proteins in the body, and selenium supplementation has been shown in at least one clinical trial to significantly decrease hair loss in patients undergoing chemotherapy due to ovarian cancer.

For those above age 14, the NIH recommends an intake of 55 mcg a day. Selenium can be found in chicken, beef, pork, turkey and select nuts and beans.

Eating a healthy, diverse diet rich in vitamins and minerals is essential to great hair and normal hair health. Supplements can help, but most physicians recommend eating right and getting proper nutrition to begin with. If necessary, many deficiencies can be corrected with supplements, and extreme nutritional deficiences should be diagnosed by a doctor.

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