An excessive amount of hair loss has long been associated with iron deficiency or anemia. While many of us believe it to be true, what does research say? Does iron deficiency actually cause hair loss? Here, we taken an in-depth look at the purported link between iron deficiency and hair loss.
In This Article
What Is Iron Deficiency?
Iron deficiency (also known as anemia) is caused due to decreased hemoglobin levels in your red blood cells (RBCs). This is the most common type of anemia and occurs when your body does not get enough iron to make hemoglobin (1).
Hemoglobin is the protein that carries oxygen to our entire body. Low hemoglobin levels mean reduced oxygen levels in the body.
Iron deficiency is most common among women. A poor diet, heavy menstruation, and pregnancy are a few major causes of iron deficiency in women.
The symptoms of iron deficiency are discussed in the next section.
Symptoms Of Iron Deficiency
The symptoms of iron deficiency could be mild, which is one reason many women fail to notice them. These include (2):
- Pale skin
- Cravings for unusual items like ice or dirt
- Swelling or soreness of the tongue
- Tingling feeling in the legs
- Irregular heartbeat
Could hair loss be one of the symptoms of iron deficiency? Let us understand.
Can Iron Deficiency Cause Hair Loss?
Research linking iron deficiency and hair loss is limited. However, some studies do state that hair loss treatment could be enhanced when iron deficiency is treated (3).
Hair loss, whether caused by iron deficiency or otherwise, can be distressing. The following section discusses certain potential treatments for hair loss associated with iron deficiency. We suggest you talk to your doctor before taking any medications or supplements.
1. Iron Supplements
Researchers have seen that iron might be a great component for hair growth. Iron deficiency or not, if you are experiencing hair loss, iron supplements might help in combating hair loss. However, consult a doctor before taking iron supplements and discuss briefly all the benefits and side effects of iron supplements (4).
2. Dietary Changes
A diet rich in iron may help combat hair loss associated with iron deficiency. Foods like red meat, fish, chicken, and green vegetables are rich in iron.
Minoxidil is a popular over-the-counter hair growth medication used by those experiencing male and female pattern hair loss. This medication helps encourage hair growth. However, it may take a long time to show promising results (5).
Experts are yet to determine the relationship between iron deficiency and hair loss. While some claim that the mineral deficiency may lead to hair loss, research is still unclear. That said, iron deficiency can have serious implications concerning long-term health. Ensure you are on the right diet/supplements to restore your body’s iron levels.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should ideal iron levels be for hair growth?
As discussed, there is limited research here. In fact, one study on ferritin (an intracellular protein that stores iron releases it) showed no correlation between adequate iron levels and reduced hair loss (6).
Can too much iron be harmful?
Yes, an increased level of iron might be harmful for your body. An increase in iron level may cause abdominal pain and gastrointestinal bleeding (5).
- Iron Deficiency Anemia
- Iron deficiency anemia
- The diagnosis and treatment of iron deficiency and its potential relationship to hair loss
- Minoxidil: mechanisms of action on hair growth
- Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use
- No Association between Serum Ferritin Levels >10 μg/l and Hair Loss Activity in Women