Vitamin D and its Role in Alopecia Areata
By Dr. Jeff Donovan, Canadian Hair Loss Foundation
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune hair loss condition. Vitamin D has an import role in the immune system and low levels of vitamin D are thought to be a risk factor for some autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Several recent studies have examined whether low vitamin D levels have role in alopecia areata.
A Study from Turkey published in the journal Vitamins and Trace Elements compared the levels of vitamin D in 42 individuals with alopecia areata and 42 individuals who did not have alopecia areata. Levels of vitamin D were reduced in those with alopecia areata compared to those without.
A study from Italy published in the journal Dermatoendocrinology showed a similar finding, namely that a vitamin D deficiency was present in 40 % of individuals with AA compared to 30 % of individuals without AA.
What are we to make of these vitamin D research findings?
It’s important to realize that these research studies inform us that individuals with alopecia areata are more likely to have low vitamin D levels. It does not mean that low vitamin D levels was a cause of the alopecia and it doesn’t mean that taking supplements will necessarily help with hair growth. Additional research studies are going to be needed to determine if taking vitamin D pills will help with hair growth. However, because of the benefit of vitamin D in so many areas of health, and the safety of vitamin D supplements, it is important that all patients with alopecia areata to speak to their physicians to make sure their levels are normal and if not that they take vitamin D supplements.
Yilmaz and Colleagues. Vitamin D Concentrations are Decreased in Patients with Alopecia Areata. Vitamins and Trace Elements 2012: 1: 3
d’Ovidio and Colleagues. Reduced level of 25- hydroxyvitamin D in chronic/relapsing alopecia areata. Dermatoendocrinol 2013; 5: 271-273