Anyone who ignores the importance of vitamins is fooling themselves.
For all the reasons I have mentioned in the book and in previous posts, such as the lack of truly fresh/ripe foods and genetic inability to absorb appropriate amounts of vitamins, we are not getting what we need to keep a healthy head of hair. When that happens, we have to take action or surrender our hair.
I covered some of the best anti-hair loss and pro-hair growth vitamins and supplements in the book. However, I can’t cover everything in just one book which is one of the reasons I started this blog.
Furthermore, science is learning more about vitamins everyday and, subsequently, I am too. That being said, today I wanted to share some information about two frequently overlooked vitamins, B and D.
Overlooked is probably an understatement because there is a marked deficiency of these vitamins throughout the world’s population. Of course, hair loss is also running rampant among the population and I do not believe it is a coincidence.
You may see these vitamins added to many of the foods you eat and you may think you are getting plenty. It would be easy to check them off your list. Unfortunately, that common misconception is fooling thousands of people and their hair is paying the price.
To help you understand, here are the facts you need to know about vitamins D and B.
The Amazing Vitamin D
Unlike most vitamins which were discovered in the foods we were already eating, we had to go looking for vitamin D. To help you understand this story, I will go back to the beginning.
A century or two ago, when some nations began to emerge as “first world” and others started sinking into the “third world”, nutritionists noticed an over all improved healthiness in the citizens of the former.
This made sense, transportation infrastructure was now making it possible to have fresher foods from a more diverse geographic range. Put simply, more people were eating fresh fruits, veggies, and grains.
Furthermore, the price of meat or substitutes was cheaper in the “first world” and more people were getting protein. Because automobiles and automation were still uncommon, people still performed manual labor and walked to work, keeping them in shape. It was a perfect lifestyle for health.
However, there still seemed to be some deficiencies. The elderly, and sometimes the not-so-elderly, retired early because they suffered from bones which were as fragile as glass. The disease rickets was still running rampant throughout the population.
Nutrition experts began to suspect something was lacking. Thinning hair and thinning nails were further signs of some deficiency.
It was even more perplexing to see that the people who most exhibited these maladies were the most economically well off. Women were especially vulnerable and elderly women had a marked mortality rate from bone related problems.
In poor or rural areas all over the world, the majority of the population had none of these symptoms. In other words, the people who best afford and most exposed to nourishing foods seemed to be lacking something important within their bodies which their poorer counterparts did not.
That is when nutritionists started searching for an answer. Obviously the answer was vitamin D, but the search was exhausting.
The availability of vitamin in food is rare, which I will explain in the next section, so it took extensive blood work to isolate and identify the vitamin d compound. However, as soon as it was identified it became clear that vitamin D was a secret to looking and feeling younger and more fit.
In recent decades, we gained the technology and knowledge to track the issue more thoroughly.
Experts began to notice that in addition to thin hair and brittle nails, people who have even the slightest D deficiency tend to have a weaker statue and a worse athletic performance than those who have the full recommended levels of the vitamin.
Scientists believe this happens because vitamin D helps direct more testosterone toward muscle building instead of storage on the scalp where it would be converted to DHT.
To back up that data, experts also noticed that children given an adequate supply of vitamin D during growth spurts developed more bone AND muscle tissue (the correct use of testosterone) than children with vitamin D deficiency.
In most cases, patients with hormonal cancers seemed to have a better outcome than those with lower levels of vitamin D. (However, I find it important to note that vitamin D seemed to have no positive or negative effect on prostate cancer patients).
Most importantly, those who are markedly deficient in vitamin D lose their hair. In fact, a study at The Mayo Clinic revealed that it may be impossible to grow hair without vitamin D.
I don’t know about you, but I was convinced. D had to be one of the important vitamins for hair loss.
Getting More Sunshine Vitamin D
The reason why it was so hard to discover vitamin D is because it is one of the hardest vitamins to find on the planet.
It is found in small amounts in yeasts and mushrooms as well as small amounts in the skin and milk of cows, goats, and sheep. However, each of these are very miniscule sources of the vitamin.
For centuries, scientists believe vitamins were only found in food. Your body could only get vitamins when eating. This was why it was so hard to discover vitamin D, because none of the healthier subjects seemed to be ingesting any more notable vitamins than their unhealthy counterparts.
So, how could vitamin D be so important and yet not present in most foods? This question led the experts to look at the blood.
Somehow, the healthier patient’s blood had a richer supply of vitamin d than the other patients. This observation led to a closer look at human anatomy and, finally, the answer revealed itself.
Your body can make its own vitamin D. In fact, it can make all of the vitamin D you need. Furthermore, it will stop making vitamin D when you don’t need it to prevent toxicity. If that wasn’t amazing enough, then wait until you hear how your body makes vitamin D.
Inside your hair follicles are tiny sunlight receptors. They are within every hair follicle on your body, but the largest and most productive sunlight receptors are on the follicles in your scalp.
When the sun touches the receptors, a complex chemical reaction happens where the sun is metabolized into the purest form of vitamin D. The vitamin D enters the blood stream through the capillaries supplying your scalp and is distributed throughout your body.
If you have shopped for milk lately you probably noticed every single carton advertising “added vitamin D.” It is common practice now to add artificially synthesized (and often unabsorbable) vitamin D to most dairy and cereal products.
You may be asking yourself the obvious question, if our bodies can make vitamin D, why are we needing to ingest it artificially?
The answer is simple, our society has become sun-phobic. As with most threats, the occurrence of skin cancer ignited a mass panic to become sun-proof. We limit our time in the sun. We cover up to prevent exposure.
We buy large-brimmed hats to protect our scalp and face. We layer on thick sunscreen to further block our skin’s absorption of sunlight.
I once had a doctor joke that the US was a nation of vampires considering how little actual sun exposure the average citizen received on a daily basis. However, it really is no laughing joke.
The US Centers for Disease Control has issued numerous statements warning against over-avoidance of the sun and the increased risk of mortality related to vitamin D deficiency because they know that dietary D supplements aren’t getting the job done.
Unfortunately, if you are blocking sunlight you are also blocking vitamin D. The solution is not to consume artificial D, it is to carefully expose yourself to sunlight.
In areas closer to equator, it really only takes about 15 minutes of sun exposure each day to reach your daily requirement.
You will not get skin cancer from such little exposure. The further you get away from the equator, the greater sun exposure you will need but you still do not need so much exposure to make you worry about skin cancer.
As I said, the most powerful of these sunlight receptors is within the follicles of your scalp. This is especially true of your crown and temple hair follicle. It is no coincidence that this is where balding happens first there, considering how important vitamin D is.
However, that same Mayo Clinic study revealed that those with hair loss typically have their sunlight receptors flooded with oil and sebum, where sunlight cannot penetrate.
Furthermore, it may have been the overall weaker structure of the hair loss sufferer’s hair follicle which triggered the vitamin D deficiency. The follicle which is more susceptible to hair-loss causing DHT will often over-store the toxic hormone.
This causes swelling and crowding, inhibiting the function of the sunlight receptors and sometimes physically shielding them from it. Obviously, this means you need to do what you can to keep your scalp DHT and sebum free.
Nighttime scalp masks and massages, like those in The Hair Loss Black Book, will be very beneficial at reducing swelling and removing unwanted material within the hair follicles. Also, it is important to note that your thinning scalp will be more prone to sunburn which will lead to swelling and excess oil production.
So, make sure you get sun on the top of your head but not too much. Then, let the rest of your body’s follicles do the work.
The Wide World Of Vitamin B
While I still consider those two as essential vitamins for hair growth, I do not want you to overlook the importance of the rest of the B vitamins.
B vitamins are essential vitamins. This means they are essential to maintain human life but cannot be produced within the body like vitamin D. Vitamin B must be consumed via food or supplementation.
B vitamins are primarily responsible for cell metabolism. In laymen’s terms, it means that every single cell in your body needs this vitamin to grow, heal, reproduce, and function normally. Without vitamin B, cells would essentially stop doing their jobs.
Without B your immune system would not be able to reproduce enough white blood cells to fight off a threat. The central nervous system cannot route neuron signals correctly without B which can lead to manic like symptoms. If you do not have B in your system, you cannot absorb dietary iron and will become anemic.
Here’s what should be most interesting to those of us with scalp issues. People who are B deficient are plagued with skin issues.
Some symptoms are simply rash-eczema like swelling, which can cause the allergic-like reaction that causes some forms of alopecia. However, the most common features are acne and hair loss. (Hmmmm, does that sound familiar to all you DHT sufferers out there?)
Despite the many hours of research I have put into it, there doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut explanation for the DHT related symptoms related to B deficiency.
There are dozens of experts claiming that a lack of B is one of the triggers to an increase in DHT. Just as many experts claim it is the other way around and that the rise in DHT blocks absorption of dietary vitamin B and it must be supplemented to correct the issue.
Either way around, I believe we hair sufferers need to make sure we are getting ample vitamin B. However, this is where another complication arises. For almost as long as we have known about vitamin B, we believed it was just one vitamin.
Then, about 3 decades ago, it became obvious that there was a HUGE spectrum of “mini-vitamins” which fell under the general B structure.
Each of the mini-vitamins had its own unique roll in healthy cell metabolism and none could be replaced with another. While there is no overlap, often these mini-vitamins work together on a singular level to accomplish a more complex task.
Because your skin is your largest organ, it is one of the most dependent on these mini-B vitamins. And what’s all over your skin? Hair.
As I said, we once thought all we needed was vitamin B. Now we know we need the whole spectrum of mini-vitamins.
This is B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7 (Biotin), B9, and B12. This list is called the B complex.
In general, you don’t have to worry about getting each individual B mini vitamin because most foods offer the full B complex. They are very abundant in many of the foods included in a “well-balanced” diet.
They are most concentrated in meats like turkey, fish, and beef/pork products and liver. It is important to note that processed meats are not a significant source of natural B.
Yeasts, grains, lentils, and legumes also contain the B complex, but not at the same potency as meat. Furthermore, highly processed yeast and grain products do not offer any natural B.
Protein equivalents, like tofu, do not contain any B complex. This is why vegans are the largest demographic of B complex deficient patients.
However, dietary sources of B complex may be a moot point. If you noticed a distinct lack of those foods in your diet, that is explanatory.
But, if you are following the diet recommended in the Hair Loss Black Book then you are consuming a healthy balance of meats, grains, fruits, and veggies and would be getting plenty of dietary B.
Since we know there is a strong indication in B complex deficiency and hair loss and we are losing our hair, we must assume that something about our bodies are inhibiting or even blocking the absorption of dietary B Complex.
Most of the time this is a genetic problem and there is nothing we can do about it. However, there is an easy solution to the problem.
B Complex supplementation is very easy. Every vitamin store or section of a store will have dozens or hundreds of B Complex products available. You will probably only have to make one stop to find what you’re looking for.
However, not all B Complex supplements were created equal and some will not offer the same benefits as others. First, if possible try to find supplements that are marked as “bioavailable”.
This means they are a form of B Complex which is most absorbable and most useable within the human body. Next, look for B Complex which has been extracted from natural sources versus synthesized in ways that may be difficult for your body to digest and use.
Finally, try to stick to a B Complex only supplement. If you buy a general multi-vitamin, you will probably not receive the necessary amounts of all of the B mini-vitamins.
Instead, take a B Complex supplement and then the additional vitamins and minerals you need individually. This will ensure accurate dosage and usage.
Supplementing The Rest Of Your Body
Vitamins are important. We can’t always get what we need from our diet.
If you have a DHT problem, your body probably needs more vitamins than can be absorbed from food. In the case of vitamins B and D, it should be obvious that you need to be very proactive about getting plenty of these essential nutrients.
However, you can’t just stop there. Vitamins D and B, as powerful as they are, are not magic pills. They can help boost health and treat symptoms, but it cannot be done with vitamins alone. You have to fix the bigger problem.
The good news is that the closer you come to correcting the imbalance within your body, the more likely it is that you will no longer need to supplement your nutrients.
As I said before, you may have a genetic resistance to dietary vitamins and will need to back up your food with oral vitamins.
However, it is very like that once you start living a pro-hair life of fitness, nutrition, scalp care, and happiness, you will find your body can get and use these essential vitamins all by itself!