How Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) Keeps Your Hair Healthy - TELETIES

How Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) Keeps Your Hair Healthy

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is crucial for healthy hair because your body needs it to produce the red blood cells that carry oxygen to your hair follicles, plus it plays a role in DNA synthesis and affects your body’s use of proteins, which it needs to build hair. Because of this, a vitamin B12 deficiency can cause both a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium and premature graying, as this study showed. 

How Vitamin B12 and Gray Hair Are Related

A vitamin B12 deficiency causes imbalances in how your body produces and uses melanin, the pigment that gives both your skin and your hair their color. 

Fun fact: A B12 deficiency will cause your skin to get darker by producing more melanin, but won’t do the same for your hair. 

Melanin comes from stem cells called melanocytes, and the ones in your skin are different than the ones that color your hair. Melanocytes in your skin are long-living cells, but hair melanocytes die at the end of the hair cycle, which lasts 3-8 years. Since vitamin B12 stimulates the nerve pathways that regulate the hair growth cycle, not getting enough interrupts the cycle and causes the melanocytes that color your hair to die off, which then leads to premature gray hair.

On the plus side, getting the right amount of vitamin B12 might reverse premature graying hair, although it’s not guaranteed. And the deficiency of B12 would have to be causing the gray instead of something else, like how stress can cause gray hair.

The Link Between Vitamin B12 and Hair Loss

Your body needs vitamin B12 to produce red blood cells and it needs red blood cells to carry oxygen to your hair follicles. So, not getting enough vitamin B12 means your hair follicles essentially suffocate (or at least have a hard time breathing), and this can lead to the type of hair loss called telogen effluvium (TE).

You might have TE if you notice that you’re shedding much more hair than usual. And it should be more than just a few extra hairs because you wore a tight hat, like if you notice a serious increase in hair falling out anytime you run your hands through it, rub your head on the pillow while you sleep, or run a comb through your hair. You typically shed about 100 hairs a day, but if you notice a larger increase, or any non-normal amount, talk to your doctor ASAP.

The good news is that, much like reversing premature gray hair, getting the right amount of vitamin B12 might help hair growth because you have a cobalamin deficiency. But if your hair isn’t growing properly because of something else, like not getting enough iron, which can also cause your hair follicles not to get enough oxygen, then extra B12 won’t make a difference.

How Much Vitamin B12 You Need

The right amount of vitamin B12 depends on your life stage and is easy to get either through your diet or with supplements. The table below (we copied it from the NIH) shows the right amount based on your age.

Life Stage

Recommended Amount

Birth to 6 months

0.4 mcg

Infants 7–12 months

0.5 mcg

Children 1–3 years

0.9 mcg

Children 4–8 years

1.2 mcg

Children 9–13 years

1.8 mcg

Teens 14–18 years

2.4 mcg


2.4 mcg

Pregnant teens and women

2.6 mcg

Breastfeeding teens and women

2.8 mcg

Foods to Eat for Vitamin B12

This hair-healthy vitamin comes attached to the proteins in many of the foods you eat on a regular basis, like fish, beef, chicken, eggs, or dairy products. And if you're vegetarian or lactose intolerant, don’t worry since many foods like breakfast cereal and alternative milks (like soy milk) often come fortified with vitamin B12.

Now you know how vitamin B12 works to keep your hair healthy, and how a deficiency can cause premature graying and lead to hair loss. If you found this guide helpful and want more articles on hair nutrition, subscribe to the TELETIMES blog today!

Share this Post