If you are shedding excessive amounts of hair, low blood ferritin levels can be one reason. Iron deficiency is common in women and is linked to hair loss. While this is a debatable issue as contradictory studies have found no relation between low ferritin levels and hair loss. However, researchers believe that low ferritin levels can worsen hair fall-related issues.
This article explores how exactly low ferritin levels may affect your hair health and how to prevent that.
Table Of Contents
What Is Ferritin?
Ferritin is a protein that stores iron and releases it only when the body requires iron. Ferritin is stored in the body cells and hair follicles. If your body does not have enough ferritin, you may experience iron deficiency.
Iron deficiency and low ferritin levels are often associated with hair loss, especially in women. The next section explores the link between the two.
The role of iron in hair loss is still unclear, and further research is required to arrive at a conclusion. However, several studies have found a possible connection between low ferritin levels and hair loss:
- A study involving 30 women with chronic telogen effluvium (hair loss) found that all had low serum ferritin levels. An oral iron treatment with ferrous sulfate (600 mg/day) for four months improved their serum ferritin level to 18.7 ng/mL and promoted hair growth (1).
- Another study evaluated 210 patients with male and female pattern baldness (receding hair line and hair loss on the crown) and found that serum ferritin levels were low in women with pattern baldness (55.8 µg/L) compared to healthy women (48.32 µg/L) (2).
- An analytical case-control study indicated that serum ferritin levels below or equal to 30 ng/mL might be associated with telogen effluvium in women (3).
- Researchers linked low serum ferritin levels to chronic telogen effluvium and diffuse hair loss (hair thinning across the scalp). Around 57.5% of the participants with diffuse hair loss had serum ferritin levels below 12 µg/L (4).
However, another study claims that there is no connection between serum ferritin levels and hair loss. A ferritin concentration of 10-15 µg/L is considered low and diagnosed as iron deficiency. The study evaluated patients with either female pattern baldness and telogen effluvium or both and found no relation between hair loss and low serum ferritin levels (below 10 µg/L) in healthy women with pattern baldness and telogen effluvium or both (5).
Further studies are required to establish a valid link between iron deficiency and hair loss. However, iron supplements have been a popular treatment for low serum ferritin levels and associated hair loss.
Before we discuss the preventive measures, it is crucial to understand what may deplete your body’s ferritin levels.
Causes Of Low Ferritin Levels
There are multiple reasons for low ferritin levels in women (5):
- Menstrual blood loss
- Decreased absorption
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Improper diet and insufficient intake
- Use of an intrauterine device
While a blood test is the best way to determine low serum ferritin levels, you may also check for these primary symptoms.
Symptoms Of Low Ferritin Levels
Although it is possible to have low serum ferritin levels and be asymptomatic, many women may experience symptoms like:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Scalp hair loss
- Body hair loss
- Weight gain
If you have experienced any of these symptoms, consult a doctor and get yourself tested. If you have low serum ferritin levels, you may follow the tips to maintain a healthy range.
Ways To Maintain Healthy Serum Ferritin Levels
1. Consume Iron-Rich Foods
2. Take Iron Supplements
Supplements are an easy way to meet the daily dietary requirement of iron in your body. However, do not take them without a proper diagnosis. Consult your doctor for the recommended dosage.
Ensure that your body has enough iron or ferritin to maintain body functions and hair health. However, the ideal ferritin levels may differ, depending on numerous factors.
What Should Your Normal Ferritin Levels Be?
The normal serum ferritin levels in women are a controversial topic. Different laboratories consider different ranges. However, it should not be below 10 µg/L for menstruating women and 30 µg/L for non-menstruating women. Many laboratories consider ferritin levels beyond 200 µg/L in women as abnormal (5), (7).
Excess iron supplements can cause iron toxicity and other side effects. Let’s take a look.
Risk Factors And Precautions To Consider
Taking too much iron supplements may cause:
- Stomach pain
Also, pregnant and lactating women should not self-medicate and have to consult a doctor before taking iron supplements.
Low ferritin levels may cause hair loss or worsen existing hair-related issues. Although more research is required to establish the connection between low ferritin levels and hair loss, it is better to consult a doctor to determine the exact reason for hair loss.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
How long does it take for hair to grow back after taking supplements?
It may take three months to notice visible results.
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