Vitamin B12 Deficiency Hair Loss

About Yaman, Nutritionist at Traya
A post-graduate in Food Science and Nutrition, Yaman Sharma is our nutrition whisperer! He also believes ‘motility (exercise) is magic’. His specialization is to help you heal with food.
Your hair follicle is the site of hair production. To perform this amazing job they need appropriate nutrition. Vitamin B12 is one of the essential vitamins for hair growth. To know more keep scrolling?
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Hair Loss

The average hair follicle can produce about six inches of hair annually. You must ensure that you keep these follicles strong and rejuvenated. This can be easily achieved by having a healthy and well-balanced diet. One of the most vital nutrients that are essential for healthy hair is vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin. Vitamin B12 deficiency hair loss is a very common issue nowadays, especially among vegetarians. 

Read on to know how lack of B12 hair loss can be addressed and how you can maintain healthy levels of vitamin B12 through natural food items.

How Does Vitamin B12 Affect Hair Growth?

When the cells in the hair follicle divide and multiply, you have the growth of a new hair strand. You would be surprised to know that the hair bulb has the fastest-growing cells in the human body.  The base of the hair bulb consists of the blood vessels which connect the hair follicle to the body’s blood supply. They supply oxygen and other essential nutrients to the hair follicle.

Vitamin B12 aids the production of red blood cells. The red blood cells are oxygen-rich and play a key role in carrying the oxygen from the lungs to all the parts of the body. Thus, a healthy amount of vitamin B12 facilitates a healthy scalp and stimulates hair growth. Having appropriate amounts of vitamin B12 is instrumental to hair growth. Vitamin B12 also plays a key role in cellular metabolism, cell division, and DNA replication. The deficiency can hinder the synthesis of DNA during cell division at the hair follicle and result in vitamin B12 deficiency hair loss. 

If you are having a deficiency of vitamin B12, you will start observing symptoms of low red blood cell count. Vitamin B12 deficiency hair loss is one of those prominent symptoms. Under this deficiency, the hair follicles will not be able to grow new hair efficiently. This will result in hair loss and hair thinning. Since this vitamin also helps in cell replication, its deficiency causes the cells to struggle during replication, stunting growth among other symptoms. In a later section, we will look at some of the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. 

How to Diagnose Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Vitamin B12 deficiency is synonymous with low red blood cell count. You must be careful if you observe any of these symptoms and make appropriate changes to your diet after consultations with an expert. Some of these symptoms include – 

  • Anemia
  • Breathlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Hair loss or hair thinning
  • Premature greying of hair
  • Dry skin
  • Swollen tongue and mouth ulcers
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Memory loss
  • A decline in cognitive reasoning
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Insomnia and sleeplessness
  • Irritability
  • Tingling of hands and feet

A minor deficiency does not cause symptoms but if it is not addressed, there can be far serious consequences such as heart palpitations and nervous system issues. Given the variety of symptoms, it is very easy to overlook or confuse it with something else. 

With age, it becomes more difficult for vitamin B12 to be absorbed by the body. Conditions such as immune disorders, weight loss surgery, and heavy drinking also make it harder for vitamin B12 absorption by the body. These could also lead to deficiency.

Food Rich in Vitamin B12

Most non-vegetarian food sources are vitamin B12 rich. Vegetarians and vegans are more at risk of having a vitamin B12 deficiency, although this can be addressed by an intake of appropriate foods. 

  1. Non-vegetarian foods such as egg, pork, chicken, lamb, and seafood such as fish, prawn, crab, squid are rich in vitamin B12. Non-vegetarians rarely have vitamin B12 deficiency hair loss. These items are rich in proteins and are beneficial food for hair growth.
  2. If you follow a vegetarian diet, you must consume nutritional yeast. Cereals and grains fortified with vitamin B12 are also an alternative. Fortified cereal is a great choice for breakfast and is also easy to digest, helping the body to get vitamin B12 more easily. Consuming dairy products is also an easy way to add vitamin B12 to your diet. Low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, and swiss cheese can provide you with the needed daily value of vitamin B12.

Besides a healthy diet, if your daily requirement of Vitamin B12 is not getting fulfilled (especially if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet), you are recommended to take vitamin B12 orally as a supplement. Just be careful of the below points – 

  • OTC multivitamins often contain high amounts of B12. Check with your doctor once for the appropriate dosage before going for supplements.
  • If you suffer from pernicious anemia, B12 pills may not work as a supplement as the intestine is not able to absorb B12. In this case, B12 injections might be needed.

Natural Treatment for Vitamin B12 Deficiency Hair Loss

If you are witnessing one or more symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency hair loss, we recommend that you consult with your doctor so that any underlying health problem is ruled out. Hair loss due to stress is very common nowadays hence a diagnosis will help establish if vitamin B12 deficiency hair loss is the exact condition. A blood test can check the B12 levels and help you decide if a supplement is needed and what dosage is appropriate in case deficiency is the culprit.

Is Vitamin B12 deficiency hair loss reversible? The answer starts with your diet, you must start consuming B12 rich foods as discussed in the section above. B12 deficiency is often associated with the deficiency of iron. Sprouts, lentils, dates, potato, beetroot, spinach, whole grains, lean beef, oysters, turkey, chicken are rich in iron and can be included in your diet.

Vitamin B12 deficiency hair loss is caused due to the reduced flow of red blood cells to the hair follicles. A head massage can go a long way in improving blood circulation in the scalp. Ayurvedic treatments such as Shirodhara, Shiro abhyanga, Shiro lepa are effective in increasing blood circulation and can compensate to an extent for the hair loss due to B12 deficiency.

Improving B12 absorption is also essential in maintaining a healthy B12 levels in the body. B12 absorption is a long and tedious process. Good dietary practices and healthy food choices improve the absorption process.

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by Yaman, Nutritionist at Traya
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