Vitamin B12 deficiency: The worrying sign which lies in your hair signalling a deficiency

Vitamin B12 is a cofactor involved in essential body processes including cellular metabolism, DNA replication and red blood cell formation. Having a deficiency in the vitamin could cause a range of symptoms and even disorders. Noticing this sign in your hair could mean you’re lacking in the essential vitamin.


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There are a number of symptoms that a person may not be getting adequate levels of vitamin B12.

Some signs could include weakness, heart palpitations, pale skin or vision problems.

While the most notable impact of a B12 deficiency involved the blood, gastrointestinal or nervous system, having a shortfall of this vitamin could also affect the hair including hair loss.

Vitamin B12 deficiency and hair loss

The hair is made of a protein known as keratin.

The bulb, which is located at the bottom part of the hair follicle, is made up of the fastest growing cells in the human body, dividing every 23 to 72 hours.

At the base of the bulb is the papilla, which contains blood vessels.

The main job of the papilla is to connect the follicles to the body’s blood supply to deliver the oxygen and nutrients necessary for hair growth.

Since vitamin B12 helps produce red blood cells, having enough of this vitamin is essential to hair growth and being deficient will lead to hair loss.

Deoxyribonucleic acid, commonly known as DNA, is the information within each cell which carries the instructions for growth, development and functioning of all body cells, tissues and organs.

When the cell reproduces, it must first make a copy of its DNA.

Hair growth is dependent on synthesis of DNA and adequate vitamin B12, among other nutrients.

Therefore, a potential sign of a vitamin B12 deficiency is hair loss.


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A report published in the July-September 2010 issue of “Indian Journal of Dermatology” addressed hair changes and a B12 deficiency.

Hypopigmentation of the hair, or loss of hair colour, has been reported with a deficit of B12.

For those concerned their hair loss may be due to not getting enough B12, eating a diet rich in beef, liver, chicken and fish will greatly help.

Vitamin B12 injections are also available which provide immediate and sufficient levels of B12.

If a person is experiencing hair loss and suspects a B12 deficiency is the cause to this, speak to your GP about ruling out any serious underlying health problems.

Your GP can also give blood tests to check your B12 levels and help to decide if a supplement is right for you.

There are many different types of hair loss and only a medical professional is able to determine the exact cause.

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