Vitamin D for Hair Growth – 3 Incredible Benefits
By Jacqueline Samaroo
Vitamin D is a very special vitamin. You can tell by its nickname – the sunshine vitamin!
Our bodies need vitamin D for the health of our bones, teeth, skin, and of course, hair. It’s why vitamin D for hair growth is such a popular topic. It’s also why “Vitamin D for hair loss” ranks so high on Google Search.
As its nickname suggests, we get the “sunshine vitamin” from sunlight. And, no, molecules of vitamin D aren’t floating down to us on beams of light – although that would be really cool. What actually happens though, is our skin makes vitamin D when it is exposed to direct sunlight – which is still quite freaking awesome!
From an evolutionary standpoint, being able to make our own vitamin D is an advantage since there aren’t many natural food sources that give us this essential vitamin. We’ll give you a heads-up on them later in this article.
First, let’s take a look at:
ü The benefits of vitamin D for hair growth
ü Taking vitamin D for hair loss
ü How to get sufficient sunlight for vitamin D production
3 Benefits of Vitamin D for Hair Growth
1. Vitamin D helps your skin create hair follicles.
Each strand of hair grows from a tiny pore in your scalp. These pores are called hair follicles. Some research shows that vitamin D has a role in hair follicle production. Fewer follicles means thinning hair – not something any of us really wants.
2. Vitamin D plays an important role in the growth cycle.
Research has shown that vitamin D is crucial to the growth of both new and old hairs. A lack of vitamin D can inhibit hair growth, slowing down how fast hair grows. Both stunted hair growth or excess shedding of your hair could be a sign of a vitamin D deficiency.
3. Vitamin D may stop you from developing bald patches. Yikes!
Check out our recent post, Vitamin A for Hair Growth – 5 Intriguing Facts, to learn about another of the hair-healthy vitamins.
Taking Vitamin D for Hair Loss
Persons who are experiencing hair loss and are vitamin D deficient could benefit by increasing their intake of vitamin D. You can boost your intake of vitamin D for hair loss by taking vitamin D supplements or by applying vitamin D skin creams.
If you take supplements of vitamin D for hair loss, the recommendation is that you take it with magnesium. This increases the bioavailability of vitamin D or your body’s ability to use it.
You can of course get vitamin D from sunlight exposure and from some foods. However, supplements are a recommended way if you are already deficient and experiencing hair loss.
5 Tips for Getting Vitamin D from Sunlight
Having some fun in the sun does more than just lift your spirits. It allows your skin to manufacture vitamin D for hair growth and for the many other benefits of vitamin D for your body. Here are a few points to keep in mind as you catch those glorious rays.
1. Aim to spend time outside daily.
Short periods spent outside daily are usually enough for your skin to generate your daily recommended dose of vitamin D. Try to get at least half an hour in total. Just be sure direct sunlight is hitting your exposed skin.
2. Sunscreen is always important, but…
It has been shown that sunscreen limits the amount of vitamin D your skin produces. Sunscreen is necessary to help prevent skin cancer but vitamin D is also necessary for your general health. A solution could be waiting a little while before you apply your sunscreen.
3. Keep the seasons in mind.
Spring and summer months are the best time to get those vitamin D-producing UVB rays. Winter sunlight, however, may not have enough of these rays for your skin to produce enough of the vitamin D you need.
4. Don’t cover up too much.
Try to leave your hands, forearms, or legs uncovered for at least a while. You can cover them up again if you think you may be in danger of sunburn from overexposure.
5. Sit by an open, sunny window.
When going outside is not an option, you can still get your vitamin D boost indoors. Sit by an open window with the sunlight streaming in. “Open” is important here, since glass will block the UVB rays vitamin D production needs.
Natural food sources of vitamin D
There aren’t many natural food sources of vitamin D. Added to this is the fact that the vitamin D content in foods is lowered by cooking.
Plants sources of vitamin D
Vitamin D-rich plants are sorely limited. The only good ones are some mushrooms that have been sundried and cooked. Limited vitamin D plant sources may be an issue if you are vegan or vegetarian and you don’t get sufficient direct sunlight on your skin. You’ll have to get your vitamin D from fortified foods or from a vitamin D supplement.
Animal sources of vitamin D
Meat-eaters have a few more options when it comes to getting vitamin D from food. Really good sources include beef liver, cod liver oil, and egg yolk. You can also get your vitamin D from salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, and several other types of fish.
Vitamin D in Fortified Foods
“Fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D in American diets.” That’s according to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institute of Health. Vitamin D is most often added to
- Fortified breakfast cereal
- Fortified cheese
- Fortified milk
- Fortified orange juice
- Fortified infant formula
Vitamin D Supplements
Vitamin D is also called calciferol. It is a fat-soluble vitamin that comes in several forms. The two we hear about the most are
ü Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol)
ü Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)
They are the ones you’ll likely see listed among the ingredients of dietary supplements.
The Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health actually recommends vitamin D supplements for certain groups of people. These include breastfed babies and persons with certain conditions that affect how their bodies absorb vitamin D.
Plus, your skin’s ability to make vitamin D decreases as you age. That puts older adults at a greater risk of vitamin D deficiency. What’s more, darker skin naturally makes less vitamin D than lighter skin does. So, people with dark skin are at an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency.
In fact, vitamin D deficiency among African-Americans was at 31% in 2006. That’s from a vitamin D report out of the CDC. The same report shows just 3.2% vitamin D deficiency among White Americans.
See our article Natural Hair Growth – Should You Be Considering Vitamin Supplements? for more info on vitamins and hair growth.
Risk groups aside, vitamin D deficiency is actually quite common throughout the entire population. That’s not a surprise, really, when you take into consideration the limited natural food sources of vitamin D and the fact that most of us no longer get sufficient direct sunlight.
Since there are so many benefits of vitamin D for hair growth and for health in general, getting the necessary amount is crucial.
How do you get your daily vitamin D? Tell us about it!