Can Low B12 Cause Hair Loss?
Hair loss might be a sign of Vitamin B12 deficiency. The normal level of B12 is between 200 to 300pg/ml. Levels below 200pg/ml are considered low.
Though the rate of hair growth varies according to individuals, healthy hair follicles produce about 6 inches of hair annually. A well-balanced diet is crucial to supply the hair cells with essential nutrients needed to sustain hair growth.
Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, contains cobalt, one of these essential nutrients for hair growth. It helps to form red blood cells, which supply oxygen to body tissues, including the hair follicles, thus, enabling healthy hair growth.
Are you losing more hair than usual?
Or maybe your hair is growing at a slower pace?
This article explains all you need to know about B12 and hair growth, how vitamin B12 helps with hair loss, and how to treat vitamin B12 deficiency for hair growth.
Let's get into it!
Is all hair loss related to B12 deficiency?
You can suffer hair loss due to a deficiency of B12, but this condition has other causes. Other possible causes of hair loss include:
Underlying health conditions
Side effects of certain medications
Depending on the cause, hair loss appears in various ways. It could be gradual or occur abruptly and may be temporary or permanent.
Hair loss is a widespread challenge, which could cause anxiety and lower your confidence and self-esteem.
Hereditary hair loss, also known as alopecia, is the most common form of hair loss in men. It affects about 30 to 50% of men by the time they are 50. This type appears as thinning on top of the head or round bald patches. It could affect only the scalp or the entire body.
Several health conditions like thyroid disease and iron deficiency, anemia, and protein deficiency could also lead to you losing your hair.
Major illnesses and surgeries may cause hair loss in other cases, but this is reversed once the treatment is complete.
Changes in hormones due to pregnancy, childbirth, or menopause could also trigger hair loss. Stress from physical or emotional shock may also trigger the loss of hair.
You could also lose some hair from medications used to treat cancer, high blood pressure, arthritis, depression, and heart problems.
Excessive hair treatment, styling, brushing, and washing could affect how much hair you lose daily. The structure of the hair follicle may become compromised from these treatments and cause you to lose hair.
How much hair loss is normal?
It is easy to assume you have an underlying condition causing hair loss when you see hair strands in the drain or on your pillow. While it might seem like a lot, it is likely just hair shedding.
Losing hair is normal, and you lose between 50 to 100 strands of hair daily. With about 100,000 hair follicles or more on your scalp, losing this amount will not be noticeable.
Usually, when hair is lost, it is replaced by new hair, but this is not always the case. Hair loss becomes troublesome when lost hair is not replaced.
Generally, women lose more hair than men.
About 40% of women shed more hair every day because of styling and brushing. If you notice that you're losing more hair than is normal for you, see your dermatologist or primary care physician.
How to know if you are losing too much hair
To determine if your hair loss is excessive, you can carry out a "pull test" on your hair. Follow these steps:
Clean and dry your hair.
Take out a small portion of hair and run your fingers through it.
Pull gently at the ends of the hair strands.
Check to see the number of strands in your hand after each pull.
If you have more than two or three, then you may be experiencing excessive hair loss.
Large chunks of hair falling out, bald spots, thinning on the head, hair loss on the body, etc., may indicate an underlying health condition.
You should contact your doctor for an assessment to determine if it is normal hair shedding or not.
Is B12 deficiency hair loss reversible?
Hair loss from B12 deficiency is reversible. Your hair will grow back once the deficiency is treated. When the lost vitamin B12 is restored, the hair cells will regenerate adequately and aid the hair follicles to grow healthy hair.
A few months of following a diet plan is required to restore the vitamins and reverse the hair loss. To boost B12 levels, take foods that are rich in this vitamin or consider supplementing.
We will cover more on treating B12 further down the article.
Does B12 help with hair loss?
B12 has a massive role in cellular development, cell metabolism, DNA replication, and the formation of red blood cells. Hair cells replicate their DNA whenever they reproduce. So, hair growth depends on DNA synthesis and B12 absorption.
The hair follicles are located under the skin's surface. The bottom part, the bulb, is made up of some of the quickest growing cells in the body. The papilla, at the bulb's base, contains blood vessels.
The blood vessels link the follicles to the supply of oxygen in the blood and nutrients necessary for hair growth. Since vitamin B12 helps form red blood cells, which distribute oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles, it stimulates hair growth.
A lack of B12 causes hair loss because of reducing red blood cells that supply oxygen to the hair follicles.
Suppose vitamin B12 in the body is insufficient. In that case, some cells struggle to replicate, including the hair cells in the hair follicle leading to stunted hair growth.
Low vitamin B12 can also lead to hair thinning. The reduced red blood cell levels reflect anemia which is connected to iron deficiency in the body. Hair loss and hair thinning on the scalp are among the notable signs of insufficient iron in the body.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency often translates to low red blood cells count and anemia. There are signs or changes in your body that may be indications that you are low on B12. Hair loss and hair thinning are other symptoms.
The following are other signs of vitamin B12 deficiency:
Weakness and fatigue
Loss of appetite
A decline in cognitive reasoning
Early greying of hair
Tingling of hands and feet
You must closely monitor your body and report all noticeable changes to your doctor for proper diagnosis.
Recommended Daily Intake of Vitamin B12
The recommended daily intake of B12 varies according to age. The required amount in an adult is 2.4 micrograms while pregnant, and breastfeeding women require a slightly higher amount daily.
Recommended Daily Amount of Vitamin B12
Recommended Daily Intake (micrograms)
0 – 6 months
7 – 12 months
1 – 3 years
4 – 8 years
9 -13 years
How to treat B12 deficiency for hair growth
When you lose more hair than expected, the first step is to check your B12 levels with your doctor to determine if you’re indeed vitamin B12 deficient.
If so, it could be the reason for your hair loss. Worry not, as this is treatable, and the following are ways to treat hair loss resulting from vitamin B12 deficiency.
1. Eat B12-rich foods
The easiest way to boost B12 levels is by following a diet plan that includes foods rich in the vitamin. People on a vegan or vegeterian diet are often at risk of B12 deficiency as the vitamin is only present in animal products.
If you follow a vegan diet, it is recommended to take foods that have been fortified with vitamin B12 to get the nutrient supply. Examples of these are nutritional yeast, breakfast cereals, and other grains that have been recommended.
You can get the recommended supply of vitamin B12 by eating a variety of foods, including:
Fish and other types of meat
Eggs, milk, and other dairy products
Clams and beef liver
Breakfast cereals, nutritional yeasts, other products fortified with vitamin B12
As stated earlier, B12 deficiency is also connected with a lack of sufficient iron in the body. An iron-rich diet helps prevent thinning of the hair.
The body continuously pumps iron into the bloodstream. Iron processes hemoglobin, which is the part of the blood that supplies oxygen to body tissues, including hair tissues.
Below are examples of foods rich in iron:
Potatoes and carrots
Green leafy vegetables like spinach
Beans, sprouts, lentils
2. Take B12 supplements
Besides diet, you may improve hair loss by taking B12 supplements. Supplementation is relatively easy and affordable, but the vitamins must be beneficial in treating hair loss.
The quantity of vitamin B12 in these supplements varies widely. The multivitamin/multimineral supplements contain doses ranging from 5 to 25 mcg. The supplements with B12 and other B-complex vitamins are higher, generally between 50 to 500 mcg or higher.
Supplements containing only vitamin B12 have the highest doses, typically between 500 to 1000 mcg or higher. Check the Supplements Facts label to see the amount of vitamin B12 supplement contains.
The most common form of vitamin B12 in supplements is cyanocobalamin. Other B12 forms are adenosylcobalamin, methylcobalamin, and hydroxocobalamin.
Vitamin B12 is also available in sublingual vitamin B12, which is dissolved under the tongue. B12 can be prescribed as a shot and also as a nasal gel sprayed into the nose.
The best Vitamin B12 supplements to use
Why Not Natural Vitamin B12 supplement is a high potency sublingual form of vitamin B12. It boosts energy, supports health metabolism, functioning of the nervous system, and improves overall health and well-being.
It is made up of methylcobalamin, the bioactive form of B12 that is readily absorbed by the body.
Nature Made Vitamin B12 supplements support the nervous system and break down food into cellular energy. Each bottle has a 90-day supply of 1000 mcg softgels that are easy to swallow. It is effortless to fit this supplement into your daily routine.
Jarrow Formulas vitamin B12 supplement is made of methylcobalamin, the bioactive form of B12. It enhances red blood cell production, supports nerve health, and boosts energy. The tablets are cherry-flavored and chewable, with each delivering 5000 mcg of methyl B-12 to the body.
Vitafusion vitamin B12 gummies supplement aids energy metabolism and the formation of red blood cells. It also converts food to energy and contains no artificial sweeteners nor gluten.
Check out our comprehensive list of the best B12 supplements that will give you the necessary energy boost.
3. Improve B12 absorption
The body absorbs vitamin B12 from the foods you eat with the help of acids and enzymes. Suppose the body is not producing enough of these enzymes like pepsin that helps to digest protein.
In that case, it won't be easy to absorb adequate B12. Some factors like frequent alcohol consumption and using certain medications can reduce the body's rate of absorbing B12.
Detoxifying your digestive tracts can improve B12 absorption but make sure to consult a doctor first. Using folic acid together with B12 will also enhance its absorption.
Always consult your doctor for the appropriate amount of folic acid you need to take.
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that enhances nerve function and facilitates the production of red blood cells. It is a necessary vitamin in growing healthy hair.
Many factors trigger hair loss, and it is crucial to identify the root cause and determine the best treatment. A test can quickly diagnose if your hair loss is a result of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Watch closely for low B12 symptoms and if you suffer from unusual hair loss, make sure to consult a doctor. Hair loss from being deficient in vitamin B12 is reversible by supplying the body with the proper diet and using vitamin B12 supplements like Why Not Natural.