7 Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies That Are Causing Your Hair Loss

Anju Mobin
By Anju Mobin
Joel Taylor
Edited by Joel Taylor

Published July 30, 2022.

Woman in kitchen  holding two sides of orange cut in half.  Various fruit and vegetables on counter.

Our overall health and well-being are dependent on many factors. Of these, the most important is a nutritious, balanced diet. When the body doesn't get the necessary amount of specific nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, nutritional deficiencies can occur and give rise to a range of health issues.

One of the most evident and depressing symptoms of nutritional deficiencies may be hair loss. Improving your diet and taking vitamin or mineral supplements can often help reverse hair loss and other related symptoms.

1. Biotin (B7)

Biotin, or vitamin B7, is perhaps the best-known nutrient for stimulating hair growth. So it comes as no surprise that hair loss is a common symptom of B7 deficiency. The first sign of a biotin deficiency may be the thinning of hair that worsens rapidly over time. Other symptoms include brittle nails and skin infections. Scaly red rashes may develop around the eyes, nose, and other body openings (1).

To increase biotin intake, include biotin-rich foods such as egg yolks, organ meats, cauliflower, nuts, bananas, and legumes in your diet.

2. Riboflavin (B2)

Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is needed to activate the other B-vitamins that are key to hair growth (2). While hair loss is a depressing symptom of low riboflavin levels, there may be more worrying indications as well.

Fatigue, blurred vision, itchy skin, lip blisters or dermatitis around the mouth, swollen throat, and even liver degeneration can result from riboflavin deficiency.

Milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, organ meats, beef, pork, and fish such as salmon are good dietary sources of riboflavin.

3. Folic Acid (B9)

Folic acid is a B-vitamin required for making normal red blood cells, and lack of it can lead to folate-deficiency anemia. Folic acid is responsible for healthy cell growth, including the cells of the hair and skin. Premature hair graying has been associated with low folate levels (3).

Fatigue, weakness, and mouth sores are other common symptoms of folate deficiency, and potential neurological issues can also occur.

Green leafy vegetables, beans, sunflower seeds, peanuts, fresh fruits, and whole grains are good sources of folic acid.

4. Cobalamin (B12)

Vitamin B12 is needed to make healthy red blood cells. Inadequate levels of B12 can cause hair loss (4) along with anemia, loss of appetite, and digestive discomforts. When the B12 deficiency becomes more pronounced, you may experience bleeding gums, breathlessness, and palpitations.

Organ meats such as liver and kidney are known to be the richest sources of vitamin B12. Other food sources of B12 include spinach, beetroot, potatoes, mushrooms, clams, sardines, etc.

5. Vitamin D

An important nutrient that is essential for our health, vitamin D boosts immunity, stimulates cell growth, strengthens bones, and keeps our skin healthy. Vitamin D also plays an important role in stimulating hair follicles and encouraging hair growth, and a lack of it can lead to hair loss and alopecia (5).

Red meat, oily fish, egg yolks, and liver are good sources of vitamin D.

6. Iron

Iron is a mineral that’s well known for its role in transporting oxygen to all the cells in our bodies. Iron also plays another role as the cofactor for an enzyme needed for hair cell growth. Iron deficiency contributes to hair loss in women and increases the risk of alopecia in men (6).

Dark leafy vegetables and legumes are great sources of iron in the diet. Symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, weakness, brittle nails, and shortness of breath.

7. Zinc

Zinc is a trace mineral that is needed for hair tissue growth and for repairing hair cells. Zinc deficiency disrupts your normal hair growth cycle, resulting in hair loss. In such cases, supplementing with zinc supplements has been found to resolve this issue (7).

Zinc deficiency symptoms include loss of appetite, diarrhea, irritability, and hair loss.

Oysters are the best source of zinc, but other sources include red meat, poultry, nuts, beans, and dairy products.

How to Treat Hair Loss From Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies

Hair loss due to vitamin or mineral deficiencies are usually reversible by supplementing with the missing nutrients. The vital part here is the right diagnosis. Blood tests, along with a thorough physical examination and an analysis of your dietary habits, can help identify what symptoms and deficiencies you have.

Other than the nutrients listed above, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E are all important for promoting hair growth. Excess Vitamin A and hair loss are also related, so don't go overboard with the supplements.

Natural hair support supplements contain not just the vitamins and minerals needed for hair growth, but also various herbs and extracts that help regulate hormonal imbalances, improve scalp blood flow, and stimulate follicular growth.