Taking vitamins and minerals may help when dealing with alopecia areata and may even improve hair growth in certain cases.

If you have alopecia areata, you probably already know there’s currently no cure for this bothersome autoimmune condition. But there are a number of treatment options available, including medications and, if you’re so inclined, more natural therapies.

Yes, diet and lifestyle changes may be helpful when dealing with hair loss. That includes supplementing with nutrients like vitamins and minerals.

These may be helpful for people with alopecia areata and may even improve hair growth in certain cases.

Here’s everything you need to know about taking vitamins and minerals for alopecia areata.

The cells that make up hair follicles — how your hair grows — are some of the fastest dividing cells in the body. Hair follicle cells need certain nutrients to stay healthy and are sensitive to changes in vitamin and mineral levels.

Certain nutrients, such as zinc, vitamin D, and iron, are necessary for hair growth and hair health maintenance, and having low or deficient levels of these nutrients may trigger hair loss.

Studies show that people with hair loss conditions, including alopecia areata, tend to have lower levels of hair growth-promoting nutrients such as vitamin D, iron, B12, and zinc compared to people without hair loss.

In some cases, like if you have hair thinning or hair loss related to a lack of nutrients, upping your vitamin and mineral levels through supplementation can help hair regrow. But of course, alopecia areata isn’t all that simple.

While some vitamin and mineral supplements may support hair regrowth, it’s not yet known if vitamin and mineral supplements are helpful for everyone with alopecia areata.

People with alopecia areata are more likely to have low or deficient (read: super low) levels of several nutrients involved in hair growth, and studies suggest that nutrient deficiencies could trigger or worsen symptoms.

For example, people with alopecia areata tend to have lower blood levels of vitamin D and zinc compared to the general population.

Studies show that people with alopecia areata are significantly more likely to be deficient in vitamin D compared to people without alopecia. Also, alopecia areata symptom severity seems to be related to vitamin D levels, meaning people with lower vitamin D levels tend to have more severe hair loss.

People with alopecia areata who have low vitamin D levels are more likely to develop the more extensive form of alopecia areata called alopecia areata universalis, a term for alopecia areata that causes complete hair loss over the entire body.

Blood levels of zinc, a mineral that plays a super important role in hair growth, are also more likely to be low in people with alopecia areata. Research shows that people with alopecia areata have significantly lower zinc levels than those without alopecia. Like vitamin D, lower zinc levels are linked to more intense disease severity.

Other study findings suggest that other nutrient deficiencies, such as iron deficiency anemia, may also be more prevalent in people with alopecia areata.

While it’s clear that people with alopecia are more likely to have low or deficient levels of vitamins and minerals involved in hair health and hair growth, few studies have figured out the effects of vitamin and mineral supplements on alopecia areata symptoms.

Still, several case studies suggest that supplementing with certain nutrients may improve alopecia areata severity.

In fact, one 2020 case study reported that an 8-year-old boy with alopecia areata achieved complete remission after following a treatment plan that involved supplementing with vitamin D, zinc, fish oil, and other micronutrients and following a whole foods-based diet for 5 months.

These results are promising. But, an important note: The author of this study received consultancy fees from the manufacturer of the supplement used in the study, which could have influenced the results.

A 2021 study reported that oral vitamin D supplements were effective for promoting hair regrowth in pediatric patients, with one patient’s alopecia areata resolving completely after being supplemented with 8,000 IU of vitamin D per day for 3 months.

Though these findings look promising for supplementation with specific nutrients that may improve alopecia areata symptoms, research is currently limited. And it’s unclear if vitamin and mineral supplements are helpful for everyone with alopecia, especially those who don’t have low or deficient nutrient levels.

While some study findings suggest that people with alopecia tend to have lower vitamin D levels than most, and replenishing vitamin D may help improve hair loss, there’s no evidence that vitamin D supplements can cure alopecia on their own.

Though limited evidence suggests that increasing vitamin D levels may help lessen alopecia’s severity and lead to remission in pediatric patients when combined with other supplements and dietary changes, vitamin D is not considered a cure for alopecia.

If you have alopecia areata and are concerned that you may have low vitamin D levels, it’s important to have your doctor check your vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D deficiency is generally recognized as serum vitamin D levels less than 30 ng/mL, while levels between 20–30 ng/mL are considered insufficient (not so great).

Depending on your levels, your doctor will recommend an appropriate treatment, which may include high dose oral supplements or vitamin D injections.

If hair loss is caused by a vitamin or mineral deficiency, then replenishing stores of the nutrients through supplementation can help hair regrow.

For example, people with hair loss related to iron deficiency anemia may be able to grow their hair back when iron levels are restored.

But, as you already know, alopecia areata is far from a simple condition.

Some studies suggest that vitamin and mineral supplements may improve hair loss and even lead to complete hair regrowth in certain situations, but supplements aren’t currently considered an effective treatment for all people with alopecia areata-related hair loss.

Multiple nutrients are involved in the hair growth cycle, including vitamin D, zinc, and iron.

Some studies have shown that certain vitamin and mineral supplements, such as vitamin D, may help improve certain types of hair thinning and hair loss, including male- and female-pattern hair loss, also called androgenetic alopecia.

Also, if a person is deficient in one or more vitamins and minerals involved in hair growth, such as vitamin D or iron, supplements can help restore nutrient levels, which can support hair growth.

But there’s no evidence that dietary supplements can help improve hair loss and hair thinning in everyone with alopecia areata.

Deficiencies in several vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, riboflavin, biotin, folate, and vitamin B12, are associated with hair loss.

But this doesn’t mean that everyone with alopecia will benefit from supplementing with these nutrients. As mentioned above, alopecia areata is a complex condition, and researchers aren’t exactly sure what triggers or worsens the disease process.

While some people with alopecia areata may benefit from supplementing with one or more vitamins and minerals, supplement routines should be personalized and based on a person’s health needs, nutrient levels, and disease severity.

Keep in mind that while certain supplements may be helpful for alopecia areata, some vitamins and minerals may actually trigger or worsen hair loss. For example, taking large doses of selenium or vitamin A may lead to hair loss.

Because everyone with alopecia areata has different health needs, it’s best to create a supplement plan with an experienced healthcare professional.

Though there’s currently no cure for alopecia areata, diet and lifestyle changes may help reduce symptoms in some people. Research suggests that certain diets, such as gluten-free diets and whole food-based diets, may help improve hair growth in some people with alopecia areata.

But, studies looking at natural treatments for alopecia areata are currently limited, and dietary advice for this population is largely based on theory.

Maintaining a moderate body weight, quitting smoking, and getting enough sleep may also improve alopecia areata symptoms and support overall health.

Diet and lifestyle changes may not be helpful for everyone with alopecia, and some people may need medications to control their symptoms.

Your doctor will recommend the best treatment plan based on your needs, which may include diet and lifestyle changes or medications.