Iron deficiency is a condition that affects many people worldwide. One of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency is hair loss, which can be a source of frustration and insecurity for those affected. Iron is an essential nutrient that is required for the production of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body’s tissues.
When you don’t have enough iron in your body, you cannot produce enough hemoglobin, and as a result, your tissues do not receive enough oxygen. Hair follicles, like other tissues in the body, require a sufficient amount of oxygen to grow and stay healthy. If your body is not receiving enough oxygen due to iron deficiency, your hair follicles can become damaged, leading to hair loss.
There are several factors that can contribute to iron deficiency:
- Blood loss due to menstruation
- Inadequate dietary intake, and
- Certain medical conditions
Women of childbearing age and pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing iron deficiency due to the blood loss that occurs during menstruation and childbirth.
Iron Deficiency Hair Loss Early Stage Female Pattern Baldness
Iron deficiency hair loss and female pattern baldness are two separate conditions, but they can have similar symptoms and can sometimes occur together.
Iron deficiency hair loss, as we previously discussed, is a condition that occurs when the body does not have enough iron. This can lead to hair loss because the hair follicles do not receive enough oxygen. Iron deficiency hair loss is typically diffuse, meaning it affects the entire scalp, rather than specific areas. Some of the other symptoms of iron deficiency can include fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.
Female pattern baldness is a genetic condition that affects many women. It is also known as androgenetic alopecia and is caused by a combination of genetics and hormonal changes. Typically, this condition presents as a gradual thinning of the hair, particularly on the top of the head and along the hairline.
Unlike iron deficiency hair loss, which affects the entire scalp, female pattern baldness starts off affecting specific areas.
Anemia Hair Loss
If iron deficiency is left untreated it can progress to iron deficiency anemia. Anemia is a medical condition in which there is a deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood. Similar to iron deficiency hair loss, anemia can lead to hair loss as well.
Hair loss caused by anemia is also affects the entire scalp and isn’t limited to one specific area. In addition to hair loss, anemia can cause pale skin and brittle nails too.
Other types of anemia can also cause hair loss. Examples of other types of anemia are pernicious anemia, which is caused by a lack of vitamin B12, and folic acid deficiency anemia, which is caused by a lack of folic acid. These types of anemia are typically caused by dietary deficiencies or problems with absorption.
Can Low Iron Cause Hair Loss?
Yes, low iron can cause hair loss. The good news is that low iron hair loss may be reversible. Once the underlying cause of your iron deficiency is addressed, and your body receives sufficient iron, your hair may begin to grow back.
The first step in ensuring you are getting enough iron is looking at your diet. Eating iron-rich foods like red meat, seafood, leafy greens, and fortified cereals can help increase your iron intake. It is better to include food sources of heme iron as this form of iron is more easily absorbed by your body. If you are not getting enough iron through your diet, talk to your doctor about supplementation. Ask about heme iron supplements such as OptiFer Alpha for an easy way to increase your iron levels with low side effects.
It’s also important to note that hair loss can have many causes, and iron deficiency is just one of them. Other potential causes may include hormonal imbalances, stress, and certain medical conditions. If you are experiencing hair loss, it is recommended you consult your healthcare practitioner to determine the underlying cause and receive personalized treatment.
Healthline: Iron Deficiency and Hair Loss
Medical News Today: Can an iron deficiency cause hair loss?
WebMD: Hair Loss? It May Be Iron Deficiency
Scientific American: Is Iron Deficiency Causing Your Hair Loss?
Cleveland Clinic: Does Iron Deficiency Cause Hair Loss?