Your hair goes through a regular cycle of growing, resting, and shedding, which you may not even notice on a daily basis. In fact, you’re losing anywhere from 50-100 hairs every day! But when that regular cycle is interrupted, it can lead to excess shedding, slow regrowth, and a noticeably sparser head of hair.

What’s the deal? Hair loss can be attributed to a wide range of factors, from your hair care routine to your genetics. But it could also be a sign that you’re dealing with hormonal imbalances or a deficiency of nutrients. With all the different possible causes behind thinning hair, it’s crucial to get to the exact reason behind your hair loss before finding a viable solution. Here’s how hormone imbalances and vitamin deficiencies could be contributing to your hair loss, and what you can do to stop the shed.

Are vitamins or hormones to blame for hair loss?


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What vitamin deficiencies can cause hair loss?

Vitamin D

Vitamin D can affect your regular hair cycle in a couple of different ways. First, your body produces Vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. This process is carried about by keratinocytes, which are cells that also produce the protein keratin found in your hair, so a Vitamin D deficiency can impact the cycle of growth and shedding. Because it’s such an important nutrient for your immune system, Vitamin D deficiencies have also been linked to alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease in which your body attacks its own hair follicles.

Vitamin A

Fat-soluble Vitamin A can help activate the stem cells in hair follicles necessary for cell growth. Interestingly, too much Vitamin A could also lead to hair loss. Some studies have shown that anoverdose of Vitamin A is strongly linked to hair loss as well as changes to your skin, vision, and bones. It’s a primary example of why “more” does not always equal “better” in terms of nutrient levels.

Vitamin C

Immune-boosting Vitamin C could be indirectly correlated to your hair loss. C helps your body absorb iron, a mineral that some studies link to hair loss when levels are deficient. Iron helps your blood cells transport oxygen to cells in your entire body, including the cells that stimulate hair growth. Since Vitamin C enhances how much iron your body can use from plant-based sources, a Vitamin C deficiency could contribute to iron deficiencies and therefore have an indirect effect on your hair woes.

Can hormone imbalances cause hair loss?

Your hormones are chemical messengers that dictate virtually every cellular action in your body, so an imbalance could very well contribute to hair loss.

Testosterone

Androgenetic alopecia is also commonly referred to as “male/female pattern baldness.” It’s one of the most common forms of hair loss --- a result of an excessive response to androgens, a group of sex hormones including testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

Testosterone is converted to DHT, which is then “received” by androgen receptors that then shorten the growth phase of your hair follicles. People who experience androgenetic alopecia seem to be genetically “programmed” to be more responsive to DHT, leading to gradual thinning and hair loss as you age. So it’s important to note that this type of baldness depends on your genetics, not necessarily the hormone levels themselves.

Estrogen and progesterone

Testosterone isn’t the only sex hormone that could contribute to hair loss. Fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone, two female sex hormones, can also contribute to thinning and hair loss. Some women experience this type of hair loss during menopause.

Thyroid hormones

Sudden hair loss could be an indication that there’s something up with your thyroid, a gland that produces metabolism-stimulating hormones T3 and T4. Hair loss is common among people who suffer from thyroid-related autoimmune disorders like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, in which your thyroid is underproducing thyroid hormones (aka hypothyroidism).

Cortisol

High levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, could also play a role in the hair loss you’ve been experiencing. When you go through something particularly stressful (think: severe illness, high fever, traumatic experiences, childbirth, or even stopping a birth control pill), your body could respond by putting your hair follicles into what’s called an “extended resting phase.” This means that you could start shedding significantly more hairs without regrowing. This kind of stress-related hair loss even has its own name: telogen effluvium.

How to get to the root of hair loss

Because hair loss could be tied to so many different issues, getting to the root cause behind it is the first and most essential step for figuring out an effective solution.

If you aren’t sure where to start, getting your hormones and vitamin levels tested is a good first step. Base offers convenient at-home tests that can give you trackable insights into relevant hormone and nutrient levels. Keep in mind, our bodies are efficient, so there are very few hormones that are “single-purpose”. That’s why you’ll see the hormones that affect your hair in categories you might not have expected, including:

Base’s Diet Test: Can give you insights into your current levels of ferritin (iron) and vitamins, as well as your thyroid and testosterone levels

Of course, you can also get your hormones and vitamin levels tested the traditional way by getting a blood draw test from your doctor. Your doctor can also help if you are concerned about any underlying health issues that could be causing hair loss like thyroid disorders.

Another option would be to talk with a registered dietitian. These health professionals can help you evaluate the quality of your current diet and determine if anything needs to change to optimize your vitamin intake.

Finally, a dermatologist is a great medical resource. They can examine your scalp, evaluate your medical history, and help pinpoint the underlying cause of your hair loss.

What to do about hair loss

So you pinpointed the exact cause behind your hair loss. Now what?

  • If you’re dealing with a vitamin deficiency, you might consider increasing your daily intake with a combination of dietary supplements and whole food sources. Be sure to check with your doctor for exact doses for your needs. Here are the general dosage recommendations of each vitamin and where to find them:

  • Vitamin D (recommended daily dose of 600 IU): fatty fish (or fish oil), egg yolks, beef liver, fortified foods like milk and cereal

  • Vitamin A (recommended daily dose of 900 mcg RAE for males, 700 mcg RAE for females): cod oil, liver oil, orange and yellow veggies like sweet potatoes and carrots, leafy greens.

  • Vitamin C (recommended daily dose of 90 mg for males, 75 mg for females): Vegetables and fruits (especially citrus). You might also consider taking an iron supplement.

  • If you have pattern baldness, you can talk to your doctor about starting a medication like Minoxidil (aka Rogaine). Hair transplants and laser treatments have also been used to combat pattern baldness with success.

  • If your estrogen and progesterone levels are low, hormone replacement therapy is a popular option, especially in the case of menopause. Talk to your doctor to determine whether it would be a safe route for you.

  • If your thyroid levels are low, medication may be required.

  • If acute stress and high cortisol levels are causing hair loss, the problem will generally resolve itself after a while. If your stress is chronic, you may need to find a different way to manage your cortisol levels. Adaptogenic herbs, gentle exercise like yoga, and meditation are all proven ways to help manage cortisol levels.

Conclusion

Noticing that your hair is thinning or balding can come as a shock, but there are plenty of options for regrowing your mane. The first step to combatting your hair loss is to figure out the exact cause behind it so that you can act on the most relevant solutions.


STRUGGLING WITH HAIR LOSS?

Take our quiz to build a bespoke testing plan that will help you identify the cause of your hair loss so you can beat it!


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