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Iron Deficiency and Hair Loss

Kanika Khara
Research studies show that one of the most common causes of hair loss in men and women is iron deficiency. Hair loss or seeing those extra hair in your hair brush can be a scary sight for anyone. This story provides some information on hair loss that is associated with iron deficiency. It also includes some methods to prevent this condition.
Hair loss or baldness is a hair problem, which is more common in men than women. Medically termed as alopecia, hair loss can occur on the scalp or any other part of the body like eyebrows, eyelashes, etc. However, a certain amount of hair loss is not a matter of worry and is normal.
Moreover, research studies show that a normal person sheds approximately 50 to 100 strands of hair per day. Daily shedding of hair is not necessarily a permanent hair loss as all hair have a life expectancy of 3-6 years, and most hair that we shed grow back.
Contraceptive pills, dandruff, stress, childbirth, emotional disorder, menopause, crash diets, etc., are some common reasons for hair loss in women. Besides these, one of the most common causes of hair loss in premenopausal women is iron deficiency. Hair loss in women can also be a result of certain illnesses like anemia, low thyroid hormone levels, lupus, and sometimes cancer.
Ferritin is a protein found in the intestines, liver, and spleen that store iron in the body. The concentration of ferritin in the blood is directly proportional to the amount of iron present in the blood. Moreover, in comparison to blood iron level that changes with diet, ferritin monitors the long-term body iron status. Hence, iron deficiency is basically defined as having a ferritin level of less than 40 ng/ml.
In the human body, iron helps in the production of hemoglobin (the substance that carries oxygen within red blood cells) and myoglobin. Apart from this, iron also plays an important role in the oxygenation of red blood cells in the body.
Hence, we can say that levels of iron play a vital role in many bodily functions, and so is essential for the normal growth and maintenance of hair. Besides being a dominant cause for hair loss, low-ferritin level or iron deficiency is also an underlying cause for slow thinning of hair over a few months or even years.


The most simplest way to prevent iron deficiency and women's hair loss, is to keep the balance of iron in the body adequate. Basically when the concentration of dietary iron absorbed by the body is inadequate, it results in negative iron imbalance. As a result iron stores are called upon to make up the deficit.
Hair loss due to iron deficiency can be easily resolved by making some healthy modifications in one's diet, i.e. including foods like red meat, dried fruit, broccoli, raisins, shellfish, egg yolk, clams, oysters, and spinach which are not only rich in iron but also in vitamins.
Apart from these, one should avoid drinking tea at least for an hour after eating as it contains tannin which can affect the iron absorption in the body. Iron supplement pills and the amino acid L-lysine (15 mg for women and 18 mg for men), can also help to overcome iron deficiency.
However, it is necessary to consult the doctor before opting for any supplements so as to avoid the possibility of iron overload. Hair loss in men and women can also be treated by drinking up to 64 ounces or eight, 8-ounce glasses of water daily.
Since water plays a vital role in transporting vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and many other nutrients in the body, keeping yourself hydrated can promote healthy hair growth.
In case one experiences excessive hair loss and the aforementioned prevention methods are not helpful, consult a dermatologist to elucidate the case.
Disclaimer: This story is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.