Can Vitamin B12 Deficiency Cause Hair Loss?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

If you noticed that you're losing more hair than usual, or your hair is just not growing back at its usual pace, you may have a vitamin B12 deficiency. This article explains how vitamin B12 and hair growth are connected, and ways you can increase its intake. Read on for more.

  • How Vitamin B12 And Hair Growth Are Connected?
  • Symptoms Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
  • How To Treat Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
  • How To Reverse Hair Loss Caused By B12 Deficiency?
  • How Much Vitamin B12 Is Too Much And What Is The Recommended Dosage?

How Vitamin B12 And Hair Growth Are Connected?

If you’re suffering from a Vitamin B12 deficiency, it is likely that you have already begun seeing symptoms of a low red blood cell count. It is one of the essential nutrients required for healthy hair.

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Vitamin B12 helps produce red blood cells that carry oxygen to your scalp and keep it healthy and stimulating hair growth.

Symptoms Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 is essential in making red blood cells that carry oxygen to the hair follicles. When vitamin B12 levels are low, your hair follicles may not be able to grow new hair as efficiently, resulting in hair loss. A vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause symptoms of anemia, which is associated with low iron levels, hair thinning, and hair loss.

If you're young and have noticed your hair turning grey, it could be due to a vitamin B12 deficiency. According to research, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to premature hair greying.

Other signs of B12 deficiency include:

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Difficulty in cognitive reasoning
  • A swollen mouth or tongue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Disturbed vision
  • Changes in the way you walk

How To Treat Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

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It is essential to spot the early signs of vitamin B12 deficiency. If not identified and treated, its lack can lead to more severe health problems, including neurological disorders. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, we recommend you speak with your doctor and get your vitamin B12 levels checked at the earliest.

1. Natural Sources

The easiest way to boost your B12 levels is to chart out a diet plan with the right foods. Studies have shown that people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet are at increased risk of developing B12 deficiency.

If you follow such a diet, it is recommended that you eat nutritional yeast, cereals, and other grains fortified with vitamin B12 to get your essential nutrient supply.

Vitamin B12 is found naturally in several animal foods, including eggs, beef, liver, clams, sardines, salmon, tuna, trout, hard-boiled eggs, and ham.

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Three ounces of cooked clams contain 84.1 micrograms of vitamin B12, while three ounces of cooked salmon contains 4.8 micrograms and three ounces of light tuna fish canned in water 2.5 micrograms.

2. Supplements

Besides a healthy diet, some recommend an oral intake of vitamin B12 supplements for vegans who do not consume any meat or dairy products. [2]

According to some studies, using supplements and consuming a B12 rich diet, which includes fortified cereal and milk, can help fight vitamin B12 deficiency. [3]

Vitamin B12 can also be administered in the form of injections. However, this is only in cases where severe B12 deficiency is caused by anemia. [4]

How To Reverse Hair Loss Caused By B12 Deficiency?

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Hair loss can occur due to several causes such as genetics, stress, hormonal changes, pollution, and excessive heat styling. The first step is to check your B12 levels to identify whether there is indeed a deficiency of the vitamin that is causing hair loss.

To boost your B12 levels, consume foods that are rich in this essential vitamin. According to studies, vitamin B12, along with vitamin D and iron, is an integral part of your diet and can reduce premature greying. [5]

In another study, it was found that participants reported a significant reduction in hair shedding when supplementing the diet with B12, biotin, iron, and L-Lysine. The study also identified food as the primary cause of hair shedding among women who were younger than 50. [6]

Oral administration of cyanocobalamin, a manufactured version of vitamin B12 was found to be effective in treating a deficiency of the vitamin in one study. [89512/' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer' >7] Scalp massages have also shown to increase the overall thickness of hair. [8]

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A B12 deficiency can even lead to an increased risk of some types of cancer. [9] Early diagnosis is critical in preventing damage.

How Much Vitamin B12 Is Too Much And What Is The Recommended Dosage?

The average daily recommended amount of Vitamin B12 differs according to your age. If you're 14 years old or older, you need to consume 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12. Pregnant women and those breastfeeding will need a higher daily intake of 2.6 and 2.8 micrograms. [10]

Although vitamin B12 intake beyond its recommended dosage does not cause much harm, there have been studies conducted, one of which shows that an elevated B12 level among pregnant women led to a higher risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the child. [11]

Another study conducted in the Netherlands showed that people with higher blood levels of vitamin B12 are at an increased risk of early death. [12]

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Wrapping Up

As various factors may induce hair loss, it is important to identify its root cause to find the most effective treatment. If a vitamin B12 deficiency is indeed causing your hair loss, a test can quickly help diagnose or monitor your B12 levels.

Remember, early diagnosis is key. So, keep a close watch for initial signs and symptoms. If you experience unusual or severe hair loss, make sure you set up an appointment with a doctor at the earliest.

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