Gluten Found to be a Cause of Autoimmune Hair Loss
To date, there have been 100’s of symptoms, syndromes, and diseases linked to gluten exposure for those with gluten sensitivity. One of these little known diseases is alopecia areata (autoimmune hair loss). This condition can affect men and women and typically manifests as circular balding patches over the head. Other forms of autoimmune hair loss can cause total baldness and in even more severe cases, can lead to universal body hair loss. The study below illustrates the connection between celiac disease and autoimmune alopecia.
Gluten and Hair Loss
Is gluten and alopecia areata related? A patient with coeliac disease presenting alopecia areas as the only symptom is described. Alopecia disappeared completely after a few months of strict gluten free diet and reappeared after an unintentional prolonged introduction of gluten. After a severe gluten free diet, a new and persistent hair growth in the alopecia areas was observed. The possibility was a direct relationship in some cases, between coeliac disease and alopecia areata is confirmed.
Source: Minerva Gastroenterol Dietol. 1999 Dec;45(4):283-5.
Gluten Can Cause Nutritional Hair Loss as Well…
Aside from causing autoimmune hair loss, gluten can cause malnutrition leading to nutritional forms of alopecia. One of the primary side effects of gluten is damage to the intestinal lining. This damage can lead to malabsorption of vitamins and minerals
The loss of nutrients long term can contribute to many problems, one of which is hair loss. For example, gluten intolerance and sensitivity can create nutritional deficiencies in protein, iron, vitamin C, calcium, selenium, B-vitamins, and many others necessary to maintain proper and healthy hair growth.
Watch the video for more on gluten and nutritional deficiencies…
5 Nutrients Critical for Healthy Hair
There are several vitamins and minerals that are vital to healthy hair, nail, and skin growth. These nutrients can help play a role in hair thinning reversal. Let’s start with some of the most important:
- Biotin – Also known as vitamin B-8, biotin is necessary by your body to be able to properly metabolize fats. It plays a major role in energy production by the body. Symptoms of biotin deficiency are hair loss, nail brittleness, dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), muscle pain, depression, and fatigue. 40-50% of your daily biotin is produced by healthy intestinal flora or bacteria. Those with long-standing gluten sensitivity are more prone to biotin deficiency for this reason.
- Zinc – Zinc is an essential mineral. It plays a role in several hundred chemical reactions in the body. One of those roles is in the production of collagen protein. Collagen is the backbone molecule for hair. Zinc also helps regulate thyroid hormone production. Low levels of zinc are linked to low thyroid (hypothyroidism). This, in turn, can contribute to hair loss as well. Zinc is also necessary for digestive enzyme production. Lack of enzymes contributes to further nutritional deficiency and malabsorption. In my experience, zinc is the third most common deficiency in those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance.
- Vitamin C – This vitamin is an essential nutrient oftentimes found low in patients with celiac or gluten sensitivity. It is crucial for the production of strong collagen fibers (again – collagen is necessary for hair growth). It also helps contribute to adequate blood circulation to the hair follicles. Low levels of vitamin C can cause hair loss, easy bruising, lowered antioxidant function, anemia, and increased risk for infections. Most forms of vitamin C produced in the U.S. are made from corn.
- Protein – Adequate protein is essential for the proper growth of hair. Because the standard dietary advice of most doctors is to avoid red meat and eat more whole grain, the average American gets too many carbs and nowhere near enough protein. Protein is found in animal meats and vegetables. Grain-based proteins have poor nutritional value. Protein is essential for growth and repair of bodily tissues.
- Omega-3 Fats – These fats are essential nutrients that must come from the diet. They are important for keeping the hair and scalp hydrated. These fats help give hair it’s sheen. Omega -3 is also an important component of every cell membrane in your body. These fats also help to control and regulate inflammation. Dietary sources include cold-water fish (farm-raised fish not included) and walnuts. Contrary to popular belief, beef also contains omega 3 fats – provided it is grass-fed.
You can also purchase gluten-free shampoo for thinning hair if you are struggling with this problem. Going completely gluten-free can help reverse some of the hair thinning along with getting the proper amount of nutrients. Let us know if you have any questions about gluten and hair loss.
Learning about and sharing things like this is the reason the Gluten-Free Society came into being.
Always looking out for you,
Dr. O – AKA the Gluten Free Warrior
37 thoughts on “Is Gluten Linked to Hair Loss (Alopecia)?”
Why doesn’t anyone, doctor or otherwise ever mention the equally bad effects that foods with lectins have on your body? You can eliminate grains but if you still consume tomatoes, potatoes, beans, and in some cases, milk and eggs, you may still have symptoms. Try eliminating these or better yet, get a blood test find out your sensitivities. It made a huge difference in my life.
Here is a post on lectins for you: https://www.glutenfreesociety.org/lectins-gluten-rheumatoid-arthritis-molecular-mimicry/
..I HAVE CELIAC DISEASE & DERMATITIS HERPETIFORMIS. .HAVE BEEN ON GLUTEN FREE DIET FOR 8 YEARS SINCE BEING DIAGNOSED IN 2018. I HAD BECOME SO MALNOURISHED FROM MISDIAGNOSIS OVER & OVER , HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR A VERY KNOWLEDGEABLE GASTROENTEROLOGIST, WELL STUDIED ON CELIAC DISEASE. I WOULD NOT HAVE SURVIVED. .EVEN THEN, FOR SEVERAL YEARS IN & .OUT OF HOSPITAL WAS A STRUGGLE TO SURVIVE. ON G/.F DIET….NO MORE GLASS CUTTING PAIN IN MY STOMACH, VOMITING,& DIARRHEA SINCE. A BLESSING! .THE D.H. IS STILL WITH ME, ALL OVER MY BODY & SCALP CAUSING MY HAIR TO THIN BADLY. .HAVE LOST HALF OF MY HAIR!! ARE THERE SPECIAL HAIR VITAMINS TO ADDRESS THIS PROBLEM??!
..I HAVE CELIAC DISEASE & DERMATITIS HERPETIFORMIS. .HAVE BEEN ON GLUTEN FREE DIET FOR 8 YEARS SINCE BEING DIAGNOSED IN 2018. I HAD BECOME SO MALNOURISHED FROM MISDIAGNOSIS OVER & OVER , HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR A VERY KNOWLEDGEABLE GASTROENTEROLOGIST, WELL STUDIED ON CELIAC DISEASE. I WOULD NOT HAVE SURVIVED. .EVEN THEN, FOR SEVERAL YEARS IN & .OUT OF HOSPITAL WAS A STRUGGLE TO SURVIVE. ON G/.F DIET….NO MORE GLASS CUTTING PAIN IN MY STOMACH, VOMITING,& DIARRHEA SINCE. A BLESSING! .THE D.H. IS STILL WITH ME, ALL OVER MY BODY & SCALP CAUSING MY HAIR TO THIN BADLY. .HAVE LOST HALF OF MY HAIR!! ARE THERE SPECIAL HAIR VITAMINS TO ADDRESS THIS PROBLEM??!,NEED A RESPONSE!!
I was extremely sick 10 years ago I cut out gluten I had no problems! You right you should always out source other allergies or intolerance because all my test were negative due to me not eating gluten! People should absolutely get tested before cutting anything out can just cause more issues like me I had to re introduce my self to pesticides after cutting so much out was hard to re introduce back to my body gluten will never be allowed in my body nearly kills me now because I cur it out completely
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Thank you so much for writing about this. I think so many people do not realize what Gluten can do the damage to the gut, and to your overall health.
I’d love to see more with Gluten issues, and leaky gut, bacteria, yeast overgrowth, and MCS and multiple allergies, all as a result of Gluten.
The reasons for hair loss could be different. But in most cases it is the result of some problems with health. Right nutrition is vital to support healthy hair and healthy body. In order to make sure I am providing all the necessary vitamins for my hair I am taking special nutritional supplement, which contains the unique combination of herbs and microelements. This supplement is HairGain Formula (90 capsules) by Military Grade. This product is the only nutraceutical which possesses prostaglandin D2 blocking properties. Awesome nutritional product which defends my hair from falling out and enhances healthy hair growth.
Where do you buy Hair Gain Formula.
there are several reason for hair loss but no solution is perfect for hair loss every product have some limitation i used bio hair treatment and its working great thanks
Very good your text!
I’m eliminating gluten from my diet. So I am following the Paleolithic diet.
I AM CELIAC WITH CELIAC DERMATITIS. ON STRICT GLUTEN FREE DIET. STILL HAVE VERY THIN HAIR. CAN SEE MY SCALP ARE THERE VITAMINS THAT CAN HELP? I CANNOT TOLERATE DAPSONE. PLEASE HELP ME! ?
1. Make sure you are on a TRUE gluten free (grain free diet).
2. You might try this very high quality gluten free multivitamin to start.
All the best,
biosil its great for hair. i also them as well
Hi Mary Lou! Eliminate ALL corn and corn derivatives from your diet! Corn can mimic Gluten, so can Dairy, even real butter. Trust me on this. Just eliminate each food for 30 days and see how you feel. Follow a clean diet free from many processed foods from supermarkets as there are way too many added dangers that have different numbers and names as long as your arm! Usually corn or gluten can be hidden by other names!
Try shopping exclusively at fruit & veg grocers, farmers markets and your trusted butcher that has grass fed organic meat (no grain fed!). Eat more seafood, try eggs and see if you react ( rashes, gut pain or discomfort, grinding feeling in your gut – stop & introduce after 30 days).
Keep eating clean, be kind to yourself (meditate, yoga and gentle walks on the beach or near water) and know that you’re not alone in your quest for good health. Remember, it takes time to heal. Avoid stress and go to bed early and rise early ( better circadian rhythm helps the body heal).
Hi Dr O,
I’m a 51 year old male diagnosed with Alopecia Universalis. I have lost all of my hair over my entire body which happened about 4 years ago while on a business trip. After eating a meal, I experienced severe diarrhea. Two weeks later all my hair fell out. I was tested for celiac 3 times but each one came back negative. Any ideas as to what triggered this autoimmune response? I’m trying to discern between celiac, Candida’s, leaky gut, sugar allergy. I’m convinced that my underlying condition is due to an imbalance in my digestive system. Any thoughts would be deeply appreciated.
I loved the video! 🙂
I am 60 and had alopecia areata for a couple of years. Since giving up grains and processed food my hair has grown back. I am working with a nutritional therapist who has helped me change my diet and added a few supplements.
Self care seems to really help. Getting plenty of sleep, reducing stress, eating clean and doing the health enhancing things you love all help you heal
Hi im looking for abit of advice. My daughter is 9yrs old. Her hair has never went passed shoulder length. It gets so far then it breaks. We have been seeing a dermotologist for the last cpl of years. Her scalp was healthy folicals were healthy. She did have low iron but not low enough to be enemic. I got her on vitamins. I was giving her more red meat & hiding brocoli in her mince. Then 2months ago she has developed alopecia areata. The 1st time i seen the patch on her head i honestly freaked out. My daughter cant afford to loose any hair she doesnt have that much. I feel totally helpless when she comes & asks if she will ever have hair like me. Its horrible or telling me that kids and adults are calling her boy. She has told me that she got asked if she had cancer. She now has 2 patches on her head but she only knows about the 1. I just dont know what else i can do for her. Im getting abit fed up getting told it will grow back.
I would highly encourage you to put your daughter on the No Grain No Pain diet protocol. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease. In essence her immune system is attacking her hair follicles. In order to stop this, diet is essential.
Try it for 30 days and let me know how she does.
All the best,
My daughter is 6 years old and she was recently diagnosed with alopecia areata – she’s lost about 85-90% of her hair … and in only 6 short weeks. I was not encouraged to get blood tests (was told they would be for my piece of mind only), AA was the diagnosis. I decided to get them done just because I wanted to tell her that I tried everything – especially when she gets older. Her labs came back with results indicating that she may have celiac-gluten intolerance. We are now going down the road of having her tested for celiacs and if that comes back inconclusive we’ll move on to allergy testing. I just mention this because we would be going the AA road only if I decided not to get the blood tests. Sometimes these auto immune issues are tied together. My hope is that changing her diet may show us positive results with hair growth. I can relate to EVERYTHING you wrote above. It’s been a very hard time for my daughter and our family. AA is a very emotional disease – please reach out if you need support!
Hi Natalie, it is kind of comforting to know others go through the same, on the other side knowing how desolate the described condition can be /will be potentially forever is tearing me apart. My daughter is not 5 yet and the blood test was inconclusive. How did they test in your daughter the possibility of potential gluten intolerance? How do they test for celiacs? thanks.
Hi Natalie. My daughter is 12. She developed AA just last year and most of her hair has now gone. Its devasting for her and me watching her go through this. We tried dpc treatment but nothing has really helped. Im now introducing a gluten free deit and will be having blood tests shortly. I hope your daughter beats this.
Hi I’m a mother of a 16 year old girl and she also has alopecia areata that started last year with 2 patches and now she’s completely bald I took her to 3 different dermatologist and they all told me the same thing so she’s tsking cortisone pills and using a shampoo that seemed to be helping in the beginning but now I see nothing more happening 🙁 as of today we started a gluten free diet to see how it will react with her and hopefully that will help. Please let me know what has happened with your daughter since last year, hope all is well with her.
Hi natalie, i suffer from alopecia and am almost universalis. I found a interesting post about someone suffering from vitiligo. As i read the comments on the post i stumbled across a fellow alopecian who recovered by following the information on the post.
Read more at https://www.glutenfreesociety.org/is-gluten-linked-to-hair-loss-alopecia/#5YWPP29RPDF8iajw.99
I was diagnosed wth celiac 2014. My hair is now super thin, breaking and falling out, I am so careful about sticking to a gluten free diet.
What am I eating that could be causing thinning hair loss? Yes, I do take vitamins : Calcium Magnesium, Zinc, D3, C, Fish Oil, Biotin.
What about a link between a gluten issue and scarring types of alopecia (like Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia)? I am gluten free now, but lost a lot of my hairline a couple of years ago. Going gluten free seemed to stop my hairloss (and even a little regrown where the scarring wasn’t too bad), but wondering what kinds of studies are out there that link gluten sensitivity or celiac with this type of alopecia.
Hi Bridget. Lots of research on this. Remember that fibrosing alopecia is a type of lichen planus. Here is a link to the National Library of Medicine Database showing many connections:
All the best,
Thanks! I’ve been gluten free for almost three years and have been telling others (in a support group) page about my experience with he connection. I think I’ve convinced a few of them to go gluten free! Nice to hsve some resources to back it up! 🙂
Hi, Our daughter is at the age of 4 was diagnosed with AA, moving on to body hair and facial hair loss, with 70% of scalp hair loss. In 2012 our daughters hair started to grow back in places, but this week at the age of 14 it has started falling out again, her lashes are falling out daily, with big gaps, new smooth patches on her scalp, and arms and legs are smooth.
I found your article after reading an article on yahoo about gluten side effects. My husbands sister was diagnosed with celiac disease, and always told me my husband should get tested as its passed through the family. So I am now wondering if this is what is causing our daughters hair loss, another condition our daughter has, is IBS.
We are waiting for an appointment with her consultant, so would be good to have this info to take with me.
My name is Theresa my 8 and a half year old starting losing her hair a year ago this month. About 5 months ago I did steroid shots and blood work. All came back normal. She seemed to have the pattern ophiasis alopecia where you lose it behind your ears and neck. Anyways I went with the cortisone steroid shots. Did 2 doses. Made her face swell so big and she ate non stop if she was able. Yes it started to grow back but as soon as there wore off her hair started falling out all over the center and back. About 50 percent right now is gone on her head. I decided to take her to a naturopathic doctor and he did magnet therapy on her. Said she has a gluten allergy. I haven’t seen a allergy specialist yet and haven’t got the tests but I do plan to very soon. Anyways her mood is a lot better being gluten free this is the first week we have started it!
hi Theresa. I have the same problem, ophiasis alopecia and i just started gluten and dairy free diet and vitamin d3 pills because it was very low. what happens with your daughter? she starts gluten free diet? any result?
My son was diagnosed with alopecia areata when he was 5, he is 7 now and has no hair on his body and many bald patches on his head.he is now losing eyelashes and eyebrows.
If he does not have celiac disease , is it still possible that he has the autoimmune reactions due to gluten. he went on a gluten free diet for a year and I don’t think it helped much ..now I want to go back to gluten but I am scared if I start a gluten diet again he might lose hair faster. I will forever wonder if he is or if he isint reacting to gluten
My son is 14 he was diagnosed with alopecia totalis about 10 yrs his came off when he was about 4 we change his diet and the hair came back then six years about he became completely bald he loss his eye lashes and eye brow I’m at my with end I don’t know what else to use
Hi! This page is so interesting to read. My story is so similar to many of yours. I am a 24 year old female with Alopecia areata. I have had it since I was 20, just spots hesr or there sometimes large areas. Always treated with steroid injections and topicals. In April 2020, 90% of my hair fell out. Also, over the last couple of years, I have been mostly on a gluten free dairy free diet. My family does this. However this motivates me to go all in and also try the vitamins mentioned above.
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