Turkish doctors have found that low levels of vitamin D in children can worsen and prolong hair loss that is caused by the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata.
Their findings confirm long-held beliefs that vitamin D can play a part in Alopecia Areata, and while the team does not suggest that low levels of vitamin D directly cause the condition, its tests do confirm, it says, that the severity of the disease, the number of patches and the disease duration can be aggravated by low levels of the vitamin.
Egg yolks are one of the only food sources of vitamin D
Vitamin levels compared
The researchers, who are based at the Konya Numune Hospital in the city of Konya, south of Ankara, looked at the vitamin D levels of 20 paediatric patients with Alopecia Areata and compared them with 34 children who were not losing their hair.
Significant, negative correlations were seen for vitamin D concentration with the Severity of Alopecia Tool score (P < 0.001; r, −0.831), number of patches (P < 0.001; r, −0.989), and disease duration (P < 0.001 and r, −0.997).
In summing up, the researchers stated: “Vitamin D deficiency is not the only etiologic factor in AA pathogenesis, but in the presence of other etiological factors, this deficiency can aggravate AA severity, and thus, vitamin D supplementation may be beneficial in treatment of paediatric AA.”
But why does vitamin D play a part? Unsurprisingly, the answer is complex as the Turkish doctors note: “Besides playing an important role in calcium homeostasis and bone health, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D3] is a modulator of immune systems via its varied effects on cells expressing vitamin D receptors (VDRs) such as T and B lymphocytes, dendritic cells, and macrophages.”
They also suggest that a vitamin D deficiency might be an environmental trigger for the induction of autoimmunity meaning that it might “kick-start” a condition that may otherwise effectively lay dormant. Other experts have wondered much the same thing though there are always two ways of looking at things. As one doctor in Houston recently admitted, it may be that people with Alopecia Areata have low levels of vitamin D because they are less inclined to go outdoors for fear of being looked at (vitamin D is made by skin that has been exposed to sunlight).
It’s also safe to say that no studies have yet shown that giving people with Alopecia Areata vitamin D supplements actually improves their prognosis.
Time helps in many cases
What does tend to lead to improvements is time: in many cases patchy hair loss caused by the disorder will grow back in a few months, although this isn’t always the case and the number of patches can increase.
Alopecia Areata treatment at a specialist hair loss clinic begins with a conversation about what the trigger event that caused the autoimmune disorder may be. Several such triggers are commonly thought to initiate the condition, including psychological long-term stress, physical trauma and sudden shock. A genetic link is also suspected, though the precise cause of autoimmune hair loss remains unknown.
At Belgravia, this peek into a client’s history and lifestyle is followed up with a tailored treatment course that makes use of high strength minoxidil and a number of hair growth boosters such as the vitamin and mineral supplement, Hair Vitalics which contain vitamin D.