Can Low Iron Cause Hair Loss?
Around one-third of the world’s population is iron deficient, and although it is more common in women, men also experience iron deficiency.
From causing fatigue to dizziness to headaches and cold hands and feet, iron deficiency can cause all sorts of problems. In fact, iron deficiency can even be linked to hair loss. Iron deficiency can cause your body to produce less haemoglobin, meaning that less oxygen is carried to your scalp — impacting your hair growth and condition.
Luckily, hair loss can mostly be reversed with the right approach and treatment. Find out more about the connection between low iron and hair loss with The Treatment Rooms London as well as how you can address your deficiency.
Understanding hair loss
To understand hair loss, we first need to understand how hair grows. Hair goes through a growth cycle made up of four different stages:
- Anagen (the growing phase)
- Catagen (the transitioning phase)
- Telogen (the resting phase)
- Exogen (the shedding phase)
The anagen phase is the longest and is where your follicles push hair out that will grow until you cut it (or it becomes damaged).
The catagen phase starts when anagen ends and lasts for around 10 days. Your hair follicles begin to shrink and your hair growth slows down.
The telogen phase normally lasts for about three months. This is where your hair doesn’t grow, but it doesn’t fall out either. New hairs start to form in your follicles at this time too.
The exogen phase is when your hair starts to shed and it’s normal to lose 50–100 hairs a day during this stage.
Apart from the exogen phase of hair growth, there are other reasons why you may experience hair loss:
- Poor nutrition
- Hairstyles that cause traction alopecia
- Damage caused by harsh hair products like dyes
- Hormonal imbalances
- Underlying health conditions
- Eating a vegan or vegetarian diet that excludes iron-rich foods
- Medical treatments such as chemotherapy for cancer
Nutritional deficiencies, particularly iron, can have a big impact on your hair growth. This is why it’s vital to eat a well-balanced diet that is full of all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to produce healthy hair.
The link between iron deficiency and hair loss
Iron deficiency develops when you don’t get enough iron through your diet. Although iron deficiency isn’t fatal, you should address your symptoms and manage it as it can decrease your quality of life.
The good news is that hair loss caused by iron deficiency is usually reversible once you boost your iron intake.
The reason why iron deficiency causes hair loss is not yet fully understood, and studies have resulted in conflicting evidence. However, doctors can agree that low iron levels lead to hair loss.
The main theory is that low iron stores in your body impact your hair follicles, stunting growth and causing excess shedding.
Sometimes, your body needs a bit of extra help absorbing iron — so even if you eat lots of foods rich in iron there will be no beneficial effect if your body can’t absorb it.
Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron, so try incorporating more of it into your diet. This could be through citrus fruits or vegetables like broccoli and leafy greens. Without the ability to absorb as much iron as you can, you will be limiting the possibility of hair regrowth.
Identifying iron deficiency
The most common symptoms of iron deficiency include, but aren’t limited to:
- Dizziness and fainting
- A feeling of weakness
- Irregular heartbeat
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- Cold hands and feet
- Chest pain
- Thinning hair or hair loss
- Brittle nails
If you think you may have an iron deficiency, it is recommended that you have a blood test so that your doctor can confirm your diagnosis.
Some people are more at risk of developing iron deficiency. These risk factors can be caused by:
- A diet low in iron-rich foods
- Health conditions that impact the small intestine, like Crohn’s and coeliac disease
- Heavy periods
- Chronic health conditions like cancer
- A family history of anaemia
Addressing iron deficiency for hair health
Once you’ve been diagnosed with iron deficiency, you’ll most likely be advised to make some dietary changes. You will need to make sure you include lots of iron-rich foods in your diet every day.
Foods high in iron include:
- Red meat
- Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale
- Dried fruits such as raisins
- Breads, pasta and cereals fortified with iron
- Dark chocolate
Most of these foods are accessible and affordable so it should be possible to include them in your daily meals. Not only are they nutritious, but they are delicious too.
Sometimes, you might be prescribed iron supplements to help increase your intake and prevent or treat anaemia. Iron supplements may be able to reverse some of the effects of your low iron levels, such as hair loss.
Taking iron supplements can also reduce other symptoms of iron deficiency that you might experience, like breathlessness and dizziness, as well as give you a boost of energy.
By making these simple dietary changes and taking any iron supplements that you’re prescribed, you should start to see a difference in your hair and notice some regrowth.
Seeking help for iron deficiency
If you’re concerned that you might have an iron deficiency, you should speak with a healthcare professional so that they can properly test your iron levels and provide you with personalised advice and treatment.
Finding the right medical support typically starts with a visit to your GP. They may book a blood test for you so that your iron levels can be checked.
Book a consultation with The Treatment Rooms London
If you’re dealing with hair loss as a result of iron deficiency, then it’s a good idea to speak with hair loss specialists like our expert team at The Treatment Rooms London.
For further advice and support on dealing with hair loss, book a consultation with The Treatment Rooms London. We’ll be able to provide you with a personalised approach to treating hair loss that provides you with real results.
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