Alopecia areata and vitamin D, relationship?
Researchers at the Konia Numene Hospital located south of Ankara in Turkey have found that low levels of vitamin D in children may contribute to worsening and prolonging hair loss caused by the autoimmune disorder called alopecia areata.
The study compared vitamin D levels in 20 children with alopecia areata with those of 34 children without the condition.
It showed astatically significant correlation between lower vitamin D concentrations and:
- Severity of alopecia areata
- Total number of patches
- Duration of autoimmune disorder
This finding only reinforces the belief that vitamin D plays an important role in the evolution of alopecia in its severity and duration.
The researchers argue that “vitamin D deficiency is not the only etiologic factor involved in the pathogenesis of alopecia areata but, in the presence of other etiologic factors, low vitamin D levels may exacerbate the severity of alopecia areata. It follows that vitamin D supplementation may be beneficial in the treatment of pediatric alopecia areata.”
Vitamin D: important immune system modulator
Vitamin D in fact, besides playing an important role in calcium homeostasis and bone health, is also an important modulator of the immune system.
According to Turkish researchers, vitamin D deficiency could also be a kind of environmental trigger for the induction of autoimmune disorder, which means that it could initiate a pathology that would otherwise have remained dormant for a long time.
To date, the triggering causes of alopecia areata are still unclear, although various hypotheses have been made such as prolonged phases of psychological stress, physical trauma and sudden shock.
The study of the Turkish hospital confirms the results of that of the University of Cairo that had shown how subjects affected by alopecia areata had fewer vitamin D receptors than subjects not affected by alopecia.
Exposing at least the face and arms to the sun for 15-20 minutes a day, obviously with due caution, is one of the basic indications of experts to allow our body to synthesize vitamin D thanks to natural light. When the season permits, we can take advantage of sunny days.
With regard to nutrition, the sources of vitamin D can be of animal origin, such as eggs, milk and dairy products, as well as foods of plant origin, with particular reference to mushrooms. Balanced diet and sun exposure should ensure adequate levels of vitamin D.