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Curly Haircare 101: What Nutrient Deficiency Causes Hair Loss? Quite A Few, Actually!

By March 30th, 2022No Comments
What nutrient deficiency causes hair loss - vitamin deficiency

Curly Haircare 101: What Nutrient Deficiency Causes Hair Loss? Quite A Few, Actually!

By Jacqueline Samaroo

What nutrient deficiency causes hair loss? Well, there is a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that play a role in hair growth. They contribute to the production and growth of new cells in the hair follicles and help with maintaining a healthy scalp and ample sebum production.

As a result, a deficiency of some nutrients has been directly linked to hair loss, hair breakage, slowed hair growth, and other worrying hair issues.

What nutrient deficiency causes hair loss?

Here are three minerals and three vitamins that contribute to hair growth and whose deficiency has been linked to hair loss.


Iron is a constituent of hemoglobin. It is the hemoglobin in red blood cells that transports oxygen to all the other cells in the body. The cells need that oxygen for their metabolic processes to ensure proper functioning and normal growth.

Hair follicles do not get the oxygen they need when there is an iron deficiency. The result is stunted follicle growth and hair thinning. An iron deficiency is one of the main causes of hair loss.


Hair is primarily made up of protein and so a zinc deficiency has a very negative effect on hair. That is because zinc plays a vital role in protein synthesis. Zinc also supports proper cell functioning. When there is insufficient zinc in your diet, hair growth may stop and the strands of hair become brittle and break off.

A zinc deficiency may lead to the development of telogen effluvium in which a high percentage of hairs enter the resting (telogen) phase of the hair growth cycle. They are then shed without new hair growth to replace them. This then leads to alopecia (aka baldness) either in patches or completely.

You can read more about telogen effluvium in this recent article: Stress and Hair Loss: Here’s The Connection and 5 Ways to Break It.

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Selenium has received plenty of attention because of the many roles it plays in supporting good health. It helps to maintain both metabolic functioning and hormone balance. Selenium also displays antioxidant properties, helping to prevent and repair cell damage. All of these contribute to selenium being an important nutrient for healthy hair growth.

Selenium deficiency results in dry skin (including scalp skin), sparse hair and, possibly, premature graying of hair.

Two very important points must be made about selenium and hair growth. Firstly, selenium deficiency is quite rare. Secondly, high levels of selenium can be toxic, causing different issues, including hyperthyroidism and generalized hair loss.

Related article: Selenium for Hair Growth – 4 Fantastic Benefits

Biotin (vitamin B7)

Biotin plays a role in protein synthesis. It also plays a role in a wide range of other metabolic processes in the body, including reactions that have to do with how we utilize carbohydrates and fats.

Biotin is readily available in plenty of foods as so a vitamin deficiency is uncommon in this case. When it does occur, it is usually due to a congenital, inherited condition. It can lead to alopecia as well as to the development of a skin rash.

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Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps with the creation of hair follicles and so its deficiency could lead to thinning hair. A vitamin D deficiency can cause your hair to stop growing. This is because vitamin D also helps to ensure that the hair growth cycle proceeds as it should – hairs growing than transitioning to the resting and shedding phases with new hair growth following after that.

Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is not found in many foods but, thankfully, our skin has the ability to make vitamin D when exposed to direct sunlight. You may be at risk of a vitamin D deficiency if you do not get sufficient sun exposure. It is vital to also be aware that darker skin does not make vitamin D as well as lighter skin tones do.

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Niacin (vitamin B3)

Niacin helps our bodies to get energy from the foods we eat. It also plays a role in maintaining healthy skin, including healthy scalp skin. We also need niacin for its role in supporting the digestive system. A healthy digestive system means we are able to get the nutrients our hair follicles and scalp need out of the foods we eat.

Pellagra a deficiency disease caused by insufficient niacin in the diet. It has been shown to lead to alopecia (along with several other skin conditions). This vitamin deficiency is quite unlikely since many foods in developed countries are fortified with this important vitamin.

Other nutrient deficiencies that cause hair loss

What we have shared here is by no means an exhaustive list when answering the question, “What nutrient deficiency causes hair loss?”

There are several other nutrients that are vital for healthy growth and whose deficiency can lead to hair loss. These include:

  • Fatty acid
  • Amino acids
  • Proteins

We can help prevent hair loss due to any nutrient deficiency by eating a balanced diet.

3 Important points to keep in mind about nutrient deficiency and hair loss

  1. Some nutrient deficiencies are much more likely to occur than others. Others happen only in very rare cases, sometimes due to extreme undernutrition, extreme diets, or genetic and metabolic factors.
  2. While vitamin and mineral supplements can help to decrease the likelihood of a deficiency, an overabundance of some nutrients has been indicated as leading to hair loss, too. In some cases, it is deficiency or abundance of the same nutrient that causes hair loss.
  3. Supplementation of any kind should be approached with caution. Be sure to stay within recommended dosages and discussed supplementation with your doctor.
  4. Healthy hair growth is one of the things we reap from maintaining our general health and wellness. General health and wellness come from a combination of several factors, including a balanced diet, restful sleep, sufficient exercise, and the ability to cope with stressors.

Related article: Natural Hair Growth Supplements – 6 Helpful Points to Keep In Mind

Have you ever experienced hair loss, hair thinning, or excessive hair breakage? How did you handle it?

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