Anyone who is passionate about his or her hair can relate how challenging it can be to keep a healthy head of hair looking great. A lot goes into hair health. There is the consideration of what shampoos and conditioners to use. There is also the consideration of how you chemically treat your hair and style it. Another consideration that people rarely remember is that what we eat can directly play a role in the health and length of hair.
One of the most common nutritional deficiencies is a lack of iron in the blood. Iron is consumed through the foods we eat and many people do not have a problem with their iron levels. However, those who do begin developing worrying symptoms that can be attributed to many other things.
If you are currently experiencing hair loss, then you may be panicked as to what you should do next. The cause of your hair loss may in fact be iron related. Can iron deficiency be the cause of your hair loss? Let’s take a moment to answer that question as well as get into how iron can provide a healthy head of hair as well as other symptoms that may develop along with hair loss. Finally, we will end with ways that you can get more iron into your system.
Can iron deficiency be the cause?
Can iron deficiency be the cause of your hair loss? The answer is absolutely. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficits in the United States. Women in particular are at a higher risk of being susceptible to iron deficiency. Reviews on more than 40 years of research have shown a direct correlation between a lack of iron and an inability to maintain a healthy head of hair. While not every single study shows a link between the two, there are many more studies as well as first hand accounts of iron levels being linked to an increase risk of hair loss. As more and more research is released, the link seems to be incontrovertible. While some people will not lose hair with a loss of iron, the majority of people will experience some measure of mild to severe hair loss if they have issues maintaining the appropriate levels of iron.
Why is iron so important?
The iron we consume through foods plays a critical role in the operation and function of our body. In particular, iron is used as a critical part of creating hemoglobins in your blood cells. It is a protein that allows red blood cells to deliver oxygen throughout the body. When your body has an intake of less iron, you risk having a decreased ability to deliver oxygen throughout the body. Known also as anemia, different parts of your body will suffer at the same time. It is important to understand that iron is the most common nutrient in your hair. When we have issues with low levels of iron in our body, it often plays out in our hair. We will gradually lose hair, as well as the length hair will grow before breaking off. If you are experiencing something like this, then one of the best ways to confirm if it is iron related is to look for other symptoms that may be occuring.
If I have an iron deficiency, will I experience any other symptoms?
Now that we know the answer to ‘can iron deficiency be the cause of your hair loss’ we should make sure that it is in fact the cause. One of the best ways to do this (outside of seeing a doctor) is to look for other symptoms that may be occuring due to a lack of iron in your blood. What are some of these symptoms? Some can be challenging to diagnose. Anxiety and headaches can both be signs that you have an iron deficiency. Known as pica, you may also have cravings for things like paper, clay, and ice. This will be your body reaching out and trying to get you to consume more iron. Shortness of breath with little exercise is not uncommon as well as your heart pounding. Heavy periods are another sign, as well as pale and clammy skin. Finally, if you have an under-active thyroid, if you are recently pregnant, or you are a vegetarian or vegan, then you stand an increased risk of having an iron deficiency. Along with losing your hair, having multiple symptoms usually points towards the same conclusion. You need to get more iron in your system.
How do I get more iron in my system
If you are afraid that an iron deficiency is causing your hair loss, then don’t panic. There are many ways to get more iron into your system. Women between the ages of 19 and 50 will require around 18 milligrams of iron a day. When pregnant, the amount of iron you need increases to around 27 milligrams a day. If you are above 50 and not menstruating, then you will only need around 8 milligrams a day to be fine. Foods that provide a great source of iron include spinach, beef, nuts, chicken, chickpeas, and lentils. Be aware as well that it is possible to go overboard with iron as well. Too much iron will result in you having issues with cancer, heart attacks, and even Type 2 Diabetes. Moderation is key. Can iron deficiency be the cause of your hair loss? In the end, the only way to be absolutely sure is to ask your doctor and have the necessary blood work done.
What are your experiences?
Can iron deficiency be the cause of your hair loss? As we’ve discovered, it very well might be. One of the trickiest things about a lack of iron causing hair loss (outside of diagnosis) is the stigma that comes from it. The best way to stop this from happening in the future is to let your voice be known. Have you experienced full blown iron deficiency anemia? If so, what were your experiences like? Add to the conversation by sharing your story with readers and passers by. By making your experience known, you can give someone else important information and become a part of this ever expanding dialog. So leave a blog comment and let us know if you have dealt with iron deficiency and hair loss in the past.