Vitamin D deficiency, Stress and Hair loss
How Stress affects you
While hair loss can occur in association with mental or physical stress, pregnancy, or a hormone imbalance, the key to understanding this deficiency lies in hormone receptors. And while not every hormone will find a receptor in the body, a hormone without one is like a key with nowhere to go and nothing to do. Vitamin D functions as a steroid hormone in the body. Other steroid hormones that you may be familiar with are testosterone and estrogen. Once vitamin D is synthesized (or consumed), it still needs to find a receptor in order to become active in the body. Vitamin D has its own receptor, called vitamin D receptor or VDR. As much as you need sunlight to make vitamin D, you need sleep to use it. Certain things are known to inhibit or promote the expression of vitamin D receptor.
What influences vitamin D receptor in our own bodies?
A special class of hormones called glucocorticoids is known to decrease expression of vitamin D receptor. The most well known glucocorticoid is cortisol. Cortisol is a “stress hormone.” It is produced by the adrenal glands and helps the body adapt to stressful situations. Cortisol also helps the body adjust to the rhythms of the day: in a person with well-regulated cortisol, levels will peak in the morning, around 8 am. Cortisol will reach its lowest levels in the middle of the night, from midnight to 4 am.
This means that if you are awake past midnight, you are pushing cortisol levels into an unnatural rhythm. What else is happening? Remember, the presence of cortisol will decrease the uptake, or activation, of vitamin D. Without a receptor, vitamin D is left with nothing to do and nowhere to go; it remains inactive in the body. Click here for Vitamin D rich foods & recipes.
A key Body Ecology Principle when eating the above foods is to food combine properly - 80% vegetables, 20% proteins. It is also crucial to digest your proteins well by using enzymes designed for protein and drinking a few ounces of a probiotic beverage with your protein meal.
The best way to use vitamin D3 is to manage stress and make sure that you are asleep well before midnight. A good night’s sleep will help to regulate cortisol levels and promote the use of vitamin D3 - keeping your body and your brain strong!
The vitamins and minerals most women lack for proper hair health Vitamin D and Iron. More on each of these in other blogs, but we commonly see women who do not and cannot get enough of either of these important nutrients in their diet. We loose Iron through menstruation and pregnancy. Also, we no longer live in a carnivorous society where we scarf down red meat at multiple meals a day.
While that may be great for other reasons, it is not so helpful when it comes to maintaining appropriate levels of Iron. As a result, eventually we see signs of Iron depletion in the form of hair loss, fatigue and other symptoms. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, the first step is to consult with your doctor as these symptoms may be signs of something more serious. Sometimes, additional testing is warranted.
However, it is our experience that most women complaining of hair loss are Iron depleted. Through a plan of gradual replacement (in the correct combination with other nutrients that help with iron absorption, such as Vitamin C) this problem can be fixed. This does not happen overnight. It takes 6-12 months, but we are sure that universally women would tell you it is well worth the wait.
Similarly, a Vitamin D deficiency is a very common contributor to the hair dilemma. Vitamin D is an important vitamin that plays a vital role in bone metabolism, immunity and many other physiologic processes. Getting enough Vitamin D strictly through our diet (mostly found in salmon or fortified milk) is very challenging.
While the sun gives us Vitamin D, we all know by now that excess exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer and other ailments. Thus, sunbathing is most definitely not recommended as a source for our Vitamin D. Additionally, our kidneys and liver must convert the metabolite we obtain from the sun into its active form and our bodies do not often process the Vitamin D as they should.
But fear not, Vitamin D also is a nutrient that we can replenish over time. Like Iron, it requires a steady daily dose over many months and the amount taken should not be excessive (too much of a good thing is not better, but can in fact be harmful). But, appropriate levels of Vitamin D should enable you to restore your body to its optimal level of function.
Hair growth would not be stimulated without providing your body with its natural building blocks. For this we turn to Biotin, another nutrient that plays an essential role in the repair and regrowth of hair follicles. Each of us has variations in what we eat, how much sun we get and how we live. Finding the ideal mix of nutrients, based on your lifestyle, is essential to keeping your body functioning at its very best.
Hair loss is a very vexing problem for many women. Consult with your doctor to rule out any serious medical conditions and consider addressing nutritional deficiencies to optimize your own health and well-being.