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Home arrow Beauty arrow Hair arrow What Deficiencies Cause Hair Loss? 13 Nutrients to Keep in Your Diet

What Deficiencies Cause Hair Loss? 13 Nutrients to Keep in Your Diet

Written by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Dr. Donika Vata
Fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
Last update: May 25, 2023
8 min read 1768 Views 0 Comments
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Your diet might be to blame for your poor hair health, but how do you correct it?

what deficiencies cause hair loss

Various problems can trigger hair loss, from medical conditions and virus infections to stressful life events. And like most health concerns, what you eat can significantly affect how your hair looks and feels.

Poor diet and nutritional deficiencies can wreak havoc with your hair, skin, and nails. It can be tough to know for sure, but finding the root cause of your hair loss will help you get back on the road to healthy hair.

Discover the most important and supportive nutrients to keep your hair strong and start rethinking your diet today.

Want Healthy Hair Add These Vitamins and Minerals to Your Diet
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What Deficiencies Cause Hair Loss? 13 Important Vitamins and Minerals

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact nutritional deficiency behind your hair loss, but you can start to narrow it down. 

Knowing the vitamins and minerals your hair follicles need will help you reassess your diet and spot where you might be missing, lacking, or even overconsuming certain nutrients.

#1 Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is closely associated with various types of alopecia, including alopecia areata, telogen effluvium, and androgenetic alopecia. Studies show that addressing low vitamin D levels may help to diagnose and treat these conditions.

You need adequate amounts of it to support healthy hair growth and differentiation of the hair follicles. Diet-wise, oily fish, red meat, and egg yolks are good sources. However, few foods contain enough vitamin D for your body’s needs, so you may need supplements.

#2 Iron

Studies suggest there might be a link between iron deficiency and alopecia. Iron helps your body make the protein in your red blood cells called hemoglobin. This protein transports oxygen to your body’s cells, including those responsible for healthy hair growth and repair.

Furthermore, those with iron deficiency anemia may notice symptoms that include excessive hair shedding, brittle nails, and slow or stunted hair growth. You may need an iron supplement to counter iron deficiencies, but you can also include more iron in your diet.

Iron-rich foods to boost your iron levels include red meat, nuts, and leafy greens, such as kale and spinach.

#3 Zinc

A zinc deficiency is a well-known cause of hair loss that can improve if you start to take supplements. It’s also possible to induce hair regrowth with adequate amounts. You need this trace mineral to build proteins, aid hair growth, and support immune function.

Zinc deficiency is more common in pregnant women and those with eating disorders, alcoholism, and inflammatory bowel disease, among other medical conditions.

Most people can get enough zinc from red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, and dairy products.

#4 Selenium

An imbalance of selenium levels may impair the hair growth cycle and trigger the telogen effluvium phase. Getting enough selenium in your diet is important because it has antioxidant properties that help fight off free radicals and prevent damage to the hair follicle cells.

On the other hand, too much selenium can also trigger hair loss. So, getting your intake right is vital. Whole grains, dairy products, poultry, shellfish, and eggs are good sources.

#5 Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin needed for healthy hair and skin. A hair follicle condition called follicular hyperkeratosis can develop with deficiency, causing scarring alopecia.

Again, you need to get your intake right to mitigate side effects. Like selenium, too much vitamin A can also contribute to hair loss and reduced function of the sebaceous glands.

#6 Vitamin E

Vitamin E contributes to your hair health in a few ways. As it supports the skin, getting enough of this vitamin helps keep your scalp healthy. It has natural antioxidant properties to help ward off oxidative stress and harmful free radicals that cause damage to the hair follicles.

A vitamin E deficiency could leave your scalp at risk of oxidative stress contributing to hair loss. Furthermore, studies show an unhealthy scalp from oxidative stress can compromise hair growth and the quality of the hair that grows.

It’s also thought that vitamin E increases blood circulation to the scalp. An adequate blood supply is necessary for stimulating hair growth. For example, regular scalp massages may result in faster hair growth by boosting follicle blood flow.

Foods rich in vitamin E are various oils (sunflower, soybean, and wheat germ), red bell peppers, pumpkins, spinach, peanuts, peanut butter, and almonds.

#7 Folic acid

Folic acid is a type of B vitamin that helps make red blood cells and stimulates cell growth in the body, including your hair cells. You need healthy blood cell production and good blood circulation for hair growth, making folic acid an essential nutrient in a balanced diet.

Folic acid is the synthesized form of folate (the nutrient found naturally in foods). Some sources of folate are beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, liver, sunflower seeds, and citrus fruits.

#8 Fatty acids

You might lose hair without adequate fatty acids, specifically omega-3s, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. A study shows supplementation with omega-3 and 6 essential fatty acids are effective against hair loss and improve hair density.

Avocado contains omega-3 essential fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid. Eating avocado or applying it topically as a hair mask can support hair growth by deeply nourishing and strengthening your hair.

As well as avocado, you can eat fatty fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, and plant oils.

#9 Vitamin B12

Low vitamin B12 levels can leave your follicles lacking nutrients, resulting in hair loss. Your body needs this essential nutrient to make healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen and nutrients to the follicles. It keeps your scalp well-nourished and contributes to hair growth.

Like iron deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency can also trigger anemia due to disruption to red blood cell production.

#10 Vitamin B2

Deficiency in B2 (riboflavin) can result in hair loss, dry skin, and skin inflammation. It’s needed for cell growth, healthy collagen levels, and red blood cell production – primary functions for hair health.

Fortunately, vitamin B2 is naturally present in various foods like eggs, cheese, yogurt, and salmon.

#11 Biotin

Biotin is part of the vitamin B complex – a group of B vitamins responsible for various bodily functions. Biotin supplements are popular hair vitamins because this nutrient is involved in protein synthesis and keratin production.

Biotin deficiency is common among women dealing with hair loss, and supplementation is considered an effective strategy for improving poor hair and nail growth.

#12 Magnesium

Magnesium is another nutrient that supports the body in protein synthesis. An interruption in protein synthesis from low magnesium levels can hinder your hair’s growth cycle.

Furthermore, this mineral helps with calcium regulation and prevents calcium buildup on the scalp. Too much calcium blocks the blood vessels, reducing blood flow and decreasing the growth and density of the hair strands.

Studies show sufficient magnesium intake can improve hair loss in women. You can keep healthy levels with foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, and green leafy vegetables.

#13 Vitamin C

Getting enough vitamin C is vital for healthy hair and growth because it helps build collagen. Collagen plays a role in hair growth as it contains amino acids to build keratin – an essential protein for your hair.

Vitamin C also supports the look and feel of your strands, while deficiencies can cause dry and brittle hair. You also need this nutrient to support iron absorption. As mentioned earlier, symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include hair shedding and loss.

Be sure to include enough vitamin C in your daily diet by eating broccoli, tomatoes, red and green peppers, oranges, kiwi fruit, and strawberries.

Is Hair Loss Due to Vitamin Deficiency Reversible?

Hair loss due to a vitamin deficiency tends to be reversible once your hair follicles receive the proper nutrients they need. Vitamin deficiencies are a common cause of hair loss, and once identified, you can rectify them with a healthy diet and supplements where necessary.

Often, the key to unlocking the best hair loss treatment is identifying the root cause, and your diet is an important place to start. The sooner you discover the deficiency, the sooner you can regain balance and reverse the damages caused by malnutrition.

It may take a few months to reverse vitamin deficiency hair loss, so continuing your diet plan is essential.

What Are the Signs of a Poor Diet?

Your diet is responsible for how you look and feel overall. It impacts everyday life more than you might realize, influencing everything from your appearance to your ability to ward off illnesses.

Poor nutrition can present itself with physical and mental warning signs. Here are some common ones to watch out for:

  • Being under or overweight
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Reduced muscle strength
  • Low energy levels
  • Mood changes, such as irritability, lethargy, and depression
  • Poor concentration
  • Slower recovery time and wound healing
  • Premature skin aging
  • Hair thinning and hair loss
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Brittle nails

You should talk to your doctor if you exhibit signs of a poor diet. They can help you understand what’s going on and guide you toward living a healthier lifestyle.


Can a lack of vitamin D cause hair loss?

A vitamin D deficiency can contribute to hair loss and poor hair growth because you need enough of this vitamin to stimulate the hair follicles. Deficiencies have been connected to alopecia areata – an autoimmune disease that triggers hair loss.

Can supplements cause hair loss?

Dietary supplements may contribute to hair loss if you over-consume them. For example, over-supplementing vitamins A and E and selenium are connected to hair loss. It’s crucial to find the right balance and combination.

Can vitamin C cause hair loss?

Vitamin C is not usually associated with causing hair loss, but low levels can contribute to hair-related problems, including dry and brittle hair. You also need enough vitamin C in your diet to aid healthy hair growth.

A Word From an MD

Nutrient deficiencies are common among those experiencing hair loss or hair thinning, so it’s always worth checking your diet and exploring which vitamin deficiency causes hair loss. This can help you counter the problem before seeking hair loss treatments like medications.

Altering your diet can help reverse complications triggered by poor nutrition. Eating the right foods nourishes your entire body, supporting a strong immune system and healthy skin, teeth, eyes, and hair. Even simple changes can have a significant impact on your overall health.

Not all hair loss is diet-related. Aging, genetics, and hormones are responsible for some types, such as alopecia areata and female pattern hair loss. It’s best to discuss these conditions with your doctor, who can guide you toward the most effective treatment options.


Multiple vitamin deficiencies can result in thinning hair and hair loss, making a balanced diet a vital part of any haircare regimen. Try to create a diet rich in all the essential vitamins and minerals without overdoing it.

Consider discussing your hair needs with a professional who can help you tailor the perfect nutrition plan for hair loss and regrowth.

Written by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Dr. Rosmy Barrios, MD, is a medical advisor for the Health Reporter, the head of the anti-aging department, and a regenerative medicine specialist in several medical institutions with years of experience in aesthetic medicine and cosmetology.
The article was fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
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Written by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Dr. Donika Vata
Fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
Last update: May 25, 2023
8 min read 1768 Views 0 Comments

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