Is “Sunshine Vitamin” The Baldness Cure?
As reported by the Vitamin D Council from the Wall Street Journal 9/12 Vitamin D: Possible cure for baldness?
Researchers investigating what causes hair follicles to go dormant are helping
lead us toward a potential cure for baldness.
Current treatments for baldness prevent further hair loss but don’t actually increase hair growth. Several research teams are working to uncover
ways to “wake up” existing dormant hair follicles. Scientists are finding that vitamin D and
vitamin D receptors are crucial to continuing hair growth.
Typical hair growth follows a cycle. Hair follicles produce hair for two to six
years before the hair falls out after which the follicles lie dormant for a
short period. After a few weeks to a few months a new hair emerges. Sometimes
the hair follicles permanently stay “asleep”, resulting in baldness.
Research so far has been encouraging. Dr Kotaro Yoshimura and colleagues at the
University of Tokyo studied rats and found more stem cells became hair
follicles when vitamin D was used in the final phase of growing the cells, when
compared with those not treated with vitamin D. They also found that more of
the follicles eventually produced hair, suggesting a potential role for vitamin
D in hair transplants.
The key is the vitamin D receptor, not vitamin D alone. The receptor activates
hair growth, so the next step will be to focus on activating the vitamin D
receptor to possibly initiate hair growth.
Dr Yoshimura and colleagues are currently planning a clinical trial which will
investigate new hair transplantation techniques involving their recent vitamin
A challenge for researchers is that vitamin D has many functions in the body,
such as improving bone growth. Taking too much vitamin D can have negative side
effects such as calcium accumulation in the blood causing weakness or kidney
problems, according to the Mayo Clinic. So it is important that any potential
treatment be finely targeted. "We're really aiming to manipulate vitamin D or
vitamin D receptors only in the skin," Dr. Oda says.
However, the majority of Americans don't get the recommended daily dose of the
vitamin. For some, getting their full amount—from foods such as fatty fish or from being in the sun—may generally improve health and aid hair growth, Dr Haussler says.