A link between vitamin D levels and Alopecia Areata, which leads to sudden patchy hair loss, has been observed for some years, with a particularly telling 2014 study in Turkey finding that 91 per cent of Alopecia Areata patients had low levels of vitamin D.
Now a new study conducted by London’s Queen Mary University adds weight to the link by suggesting that people with asthma – a suspected autoimmune disorder, like Alopecia Areata – may get relief by taking Vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D found to cut risk of severe asthma attacks
According to Reuters, data gathered from trials in the US, India, Japan and Europe showed that taking vitamin D tablets cut the risk of severe asthma attacks needing hospital treatment to around three per cent from six per cent. In other words, it halved the number of severe asthma attacks needing hospital treatment.
Asthma UK described the findings as promising, but said more evidence was needed for the efficacy of vitamin D as a possible treatment option to be established.
According to a detailed description of asthma at the US National Library of Medicine, “asthma is a heterogeneous disorder characterised by chronic inflammation of the respiratory airways that can be triggered by allergen exposure or by other mechanisms, possibly autoreactive/autoimmune. The autoimmune hypothesis is further, indirectly, supported by the response to immunosuppressive drugs.”
Autoimmune disorders are complex and numerable, and describe everything from rheumatoid arthritis to IBS and even MS. Type 1 diabetes is classified as an autoimmune disorder, as is psoriasis. Keen-eyed readers of the Belgravia blog wouldn’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to notice that many of the above conditions have been mentioned countless times in relation to Alopecia Areata. Indeed, treatments are already starting to overlap: JAK inhibitors, a group of powerful drugs designed to treat rheumatoid arthritis, among other things, have shown great promise in early trials on people with Alopecia Areata.
But what does this all mean for vitamin D? First of all, it is remembering that its nutritional role is significant: vitamin D helps the intestine absorb calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate and zinc. Importantly, both iron and zinc are vital for healthy hair growth. The former carries oxygen through the body, the latter is needed for something a little more complex-sounding: it is required for DNA replication and the maintenance of hair follicle cell division.
Open to interpretation
What is still unclear is just how big a role a lack of vitamin D plays in cases of Alopecia Areata. Even the Turkish study – which seems to paint a clear picture that low levels of vitamin D hugely increase someone’s chances of developing Alopecia Areata – can be interpreted in different ways. Do the results mean that people with low levels of vitamin D became more susceptible to Alopecia Areata? Or do they mean that having Alopecia Areata can lead to lower levels of vitamin D?
Also, given that around two per cent of people are affected by Alopecia Areata, is loading up on vitamin D as a preventative measure a good idea? The answer, it appears, is yes: new government guidelines released this summer state that everyone should take a daily 10 microgram dose of vitamin D to maintain general health.
Sadly, there is little evidence – even anecdotal – that gorging on vitamin D after an Alopecia Areata diagnosis will make hair grow back quickly. What have shown impressive regrowth results are bespoke alopecia areata treatment courses, which can be tailored to each client’s requirements by a dedicated hair loss clinic.
If you are worried by sudden hair fall or rounded bald patches appearing, a quick visit to Belgravia can confirm this and you can be brought up to speed with your options. And if you’re just reading this and simply hoping to hang on to your currently-luxurious hair, then following the government guidelines and keeping topped up with vitamin D as part of a balanced diet is almost certainly a sensible thing to do – though it’s unlikely to offer any kind of guarantee of immunity to hairloss.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.