Iron Deficiency & Hair loss – Iron deficiency may well be a cause of hair loss. Treating the cause is essential. However, treating the hair loss itself may be required. Please remember, even if you have a low iron level, this may not be the only reason why you are shedding hair. A consultation to establish the actual cause would be advisable. Book a Consultation
For many years the theory of iron deficiency in women has been debated. Iron is a fundamental requirement of body cells. The question ‘Does Serum Iron & Serum Ferritin ( the biochemical state in which iron is stored in the body) affect the hair growth cycle remains unproven however, in my opinion I feel there is a clear link with iron deficiency and hair loss.
Most menstruating women will find that an iron deficiency will affect them at some stage. The importance of iron in the body should not be overlooked as it plays a role in many bodily functions. When discussing iron deficiency we as trichologists look at the serum ferritin levels which in most cases will be measured within a range (20 – 300ug/L). A suggested level of above 75ug/L is considered the bare minimum with a mid range level of 150ug/L a level that some believe should be sought. Regrettably, it is still a common belief from many that if the iron is within the range then it is sufficient. This would suggest that someone with a ug/L of 20 would have a similar metabolic drive to that of someone with a ug/L level of 250. Do I need to comment more?
Dr John Lee (researcher into the thyroid Gland) “Insufficient iron restricts cell mitochondria production from which Adenosine Tri-phosphate (ATP) – ‘cellular energy’ is created. Our metabolic activity and Phase II liver detoxification pathways are ATP dependant” (ref Dr John Lee).
Iron deficiency is relatively common. Chronic iron deficiency partly caused by low intake or avoidance of red meat or vegetarianism, may lead to diffuse hair loss.
Mr Barry Stevens MA FTTS records significant observations relating to serum ferritin levels in females who suffer hair loss. Over a practice lifetime period of 40 + years 62% of his female patients 16-60 years with otherwise unexplained diffuse terminal hairloss had a serum ferritin level of 10-17. Iron supplements were taken to increase the serum ferritin levels. As the levels were raised, hair losses reduced significantly.
Iron distribution in the healthy human body
65% should be found in Haemoglobin (the oxygen bearing protein found in red blood cells – an iron rich biochemical)
4% in Myoglobin (an oxygen bearing protein similar to haemoglobin) located in skeletal muscle.
30% stored as Ferritin (biological state by which iron is stored in the body) or Hemosiderin in bone marrow, liver & spleen.
1% relates to Transferrin (sync. Siderophilin) an iron transporting beta-globulin which facilitates transportation to bone marrow & tissue storage regions. It is also a component of enzymes located in cells throughout the body.
Free Iron is reactive.
Low Iron levels may lead to anemia (the body’s inability to produce red blood cells) and a reduction in levels of essential oxygen transportation. Symptoms may include pale skin and fatigue.
When considering hair loss in females, iron levels should be established. A Serum Ferritin test should be sought from your GP. It should be noted that low level serum ferritin levels will take many months to rise.
Treatment is advisable in most cases.
If you are suffering from any form of hair loss or scalp condition and would like to find our more please contact our help line top left of page. You will be able to speak with a trichologist who will advise you accordingly. Alternatively e-mail us. Appointments can be made via e-mail or telephone as well.We are able to offer treatment for most hair loss & scalp conditions. I hope you have found this page useful and informative.
Those with vitamin B12 deficiency, particularly those with autoimmune disease should be tested for B12 deficiency and anemia. There are other considerations that should be thought of in addition to iron supplementation which are listed below:
1. Vitamin C assists the body in absorbing Iron hence food high in Vitamin C should be sought.
2. Red meat is high iron. It can also assist the body in absorbing iron from other sources.
3. Foods that have a source of Iron are green leafy vegetables, red meat e.g. liver & beef, fish, poultry, oysters, wheat germ, cereals fortified with iron and dried fruits.
4. Tannin in tea may in some cases interfere with iron absorption. Herbal teas are the exception.
5. EDTA is a food additive which can block iron absorption as well as antacids, phosphates which are found in beer, ice cream, chocolate and fizzy drinks.
6. Fiber is recommended to prevent constipation hence amounts should be increased.