(You might also like to read my updated post: FAQ – Hair Loss and Vitamin D Deficiency)

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a long long time.  I’ve been keeping this personal struggle to myself (and close family).  Then, when I heard that 40% of the American population are deficient in this critical vitamin, I felt compelled to share my health issues, hoping it can help someone out there. 

Losing My Mind, Losing My Hair

This past May, my older sister noticed my hair looked thinner.  I hadn’t yet noticed myself and just attributed it to overuse of the blow dryer and straightner.

Here I am in a ponytail May 2010... eating and losing hair! ha ha

My hair in a pony tail, May 2009

In August, my hair stylist looked at me like something was wrong and asked “Are you taking any medications or anything because your hair is just falling out in my hands.”  My bathroom drains were clogged up and when I would run my hands through my hair in the shower… clumps of my hair would fall out!  It was a leeeeetle terrifying and I cried so much because of it.  We women identify ourselves with our hair and with every clump I’d pull out daily.. I’d loose a little bit of myself.  I was preparing myself to purchase a pretty wig, if needed!  As a biology major, I had learned that hair loss symptom can be caused by many things!

October 2010

At this point, all I wanted to do was see my doctor and get some answers!  What the flip was going on!?? She ran a full blood panel, thyroid blood test,  iron test, and one other test I can’t really remember.  It took a whole 5 minutes for the lab lady to draw two tubes of my blood, and done!  She was a good “poker” and it didn’t even hurt, yay!! A few days later,  I got a call from my doctor.  Everything was fine, except I had dangerously low levels of Vitamin D in my body.  She recommended me to buy supplements immediately and take (2) 1000 IU daily.

All of my symptoms:

Hair loss wasn’t the only symptom of my deficiency.  I was also lethargic, low in energy, all I wanted to do was sleep, and my joints ached tremendously.  If you are training for a full marathon like I was at the time, you would probably say you, too, have many days just like that!  Well…within a month of taking my Vit D supplements, I started to notice thickening of my hair, more energy, and a boost in my mood!

My hair in a pony tail, November 2010

How much hair shedding is normal?

I recommend you do these tests before seeing your doctor for potential hair loss issues.  You can figure it out by either:

  1. THE EASIER METHOD: Grabbing a small section of your hair and lightly glide your hand through it.  If you pull out more than 6 hairs, you may be experiencing hair loss.

  2. Clean your hair brush.  At the end of the next day, collect all of the hairs in your brush and attempt to count them.  If there are more than 100, you are probably experiencing hair loss.

People at risk for vitamin D deficiency:

  • Vegetarians – I am a strict vegetarian (basically vegan), so there are minimal food sources for us veggie lovers.
  • Northerners and anyone who experiences long periods without sunlight – Sunlight is the #1 source that causes Vitamin D production in our bodies!  What a cool, free way to be healthy… soak up the sun!
  • Overweight/obese individuals – Vit D is a fat soluble vitamin and having excess body fat seems to interfere with absorption of the nutrient
  • African Americans/dark skin individuals - There is so much pigment (skin color) in darker skinned individuals that UV light doesn’t get absorbed enough to convert cholesterol –> Vit D.  Just as darker skinned folks are less likely to get sunburned, so are they less likely to obtain sufficient Vit D from the sun.

Who cares?! Why should I worry about Vitamin D?

Oh my gooly julie.  I can not stress the importance!  Vitamin D is involved in many enzymatic pathways in your metabolism, heart, bones, joints, immune system, healthy body weight, and lowers the risk of certain types of cancer!! Part of the reason I was experiencing joint pain was because of my deficiency.  Runners, take note.

How can I get vitamin D in my diet:

  • Fish
  • SILK soymilk
  • Vitamin D fortified cereals
  • Tuna
  • Quaker instant oatmeal
  • Mushrooms
  • Vitamin D fortified milk
  • 15 minutes of sunlight, 2-3 times a week (although, wearing sunblock interferes with sunlight absorption)

That doesn’t leave very much room for you to choose from, yeah?  You can see how vitamin D supplements are necessary for a lot of people including me!

The Daily Vegetarian Cocktail

Omega 3,6,9 + Iron + Vitamin D + Calcium + Super B Vitamin Complex

These are the vitamins/nutrients which vegans/vegetarians are most commonly deficient.  In fact, lots of meat eaters are lacking these too.  Please check with your doctor before you start taking any supplements, as it is possible to overdose.  In that case, things could get wayyyyy uglier than hair loss ;-)

“So many people spend their health gaining wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health.” —A. J. Reb Materi

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