As we have explained previously, there are a number of cold weather and winter hair issues which can result in anything from dandruff to temporarily thinning hair.
In addition to these, men and women who notice hair loss during the winter months may want to take a look at their diet to find the culprit.
Vitamin D, also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, plays a key role in regulating calcium and phosphate levels in the body, keeping bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
It is created by the body from direct sunlight on the skin. Therefore, in the darker winter months our intake generally drops, not only because the amount of time we spend outside during daylight hours decreases, but mostly because the sun isn’t strong enough for the body to produce vitamin D.
According to NHS advice, from around late March/early April to the end of September most people should derive the necessary amounts of vitamin D from sunlight. However, from October until early March this drops off so we need to obtain this nutrient from other sources to prevent deficiency.
Signs of vitamin D deficiency can vary, ranging from diffusely thinning hair to bone pain. Research is on-going into links suggesting connections between vitamin D deficiency and Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss, as well as the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata.
It is thought vitamin D levels may influence the presence of Alopecia Areata as well as its severity, with studies also showing that a lack of vitamin D3 – the form of vitamin D present in Belgravia’s highly-targeted food supplement Hair Vitalics – can influence hair loss in women.
Sources of vitamin D
Whilst it is often cited that cow’s milk is a good source of vitamin D, this is not true in the UK.
There are a limited number of food sources rich in vitamin D, with the most dense options being certain fish dishes, including tinned salmon (15.3µg per 140g), baked salmon (10.2µg per 140g) and grilled mackerel (11.9µg per 140g), according to the British Nutrition Foundation. Two eggs served either scrambled or made into an omelette, pack the highest vitamin D content for vegetarians at 3.4µg, but there are no plant-based sources of vitamin D for vegans so year-round supplementation is recommended.
As it is difficult for everyone to get enough vitamin D solely from their food, the government recommends taking a food supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D during the autumn and winter. It can also be harder for people of colour with dark skin to produce enough vitamin D from sunlight all year round so taking a food supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D all year round is widely recommended.
The Department of Health also recommends the same action be taken by people who don’t get outside very often, including those who are housebound, in a care home, who don’t go outside much during daylight hours – such as night workers – or who wear clothing that covers the majority of the skin when outdoors.
For those taking food supplements it is particularly important not to exceed the recommended doses of vitamin D, which involves factoring in any food and sunshine sources as well as the amounts taken via nutritional support products. The NHS warns against taking 100mcg vitamin D per day or more as this can be harmful. Consistent over-consumption of vitamin D can cause calcium to build up in the body (hypercalcaemia), weakening bones and damaging the kidneys and heart. It is therefore advised that anyone unsure of how much supplementation they need or experiencing unusual symptoms should consult their doctor for advice.
Thinning hair solutions
Thinning hair that arises solely as a result of dietary issues, including vitamin D deficiency – Telogen Effluvium or Diffuse Thinning – is likely to be temporary, with hair growth returning to normal within 6 to 12 months of the underlying trigger being addressed. These can, however, exacerbate existing cases of Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss, or even initiate the early onset of these permanent conditions in people with the relevant genetic predisposition.
If persistent hair shedding becomes a problem, the best thing to do is take professional advice as soon as possible. A specialist will be able to diagnose the specific hair loss condition – or conditions, given it is possible for more than one to present simultaneously – and discuss the potential reasons for this with you, as well as recommending appropriate hair loss treatments based on their findings.
Further supplementary hair growth supporting products may also be suggested to use alongside these, and, at Belgravia, on-going support is also provided throughout the hair growth journey. This is something many clients tell us they really benefit from as having a dedicated hair specialist they are able to speak to at any point when they have questions or queries can be extremely reassuring, particularly given how upsetting and emotional hair loss can be to deal with.
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. 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 world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.