Iron Deficiency Hair Loss – Causes, Symptoms, & How To Treat It

Reviewed by Dr. Nithya Raghunath, MBBS, MD
Written by Anjali Sayee

Iron deficiency or anemia has been linked with hair loss. But is it true? Does Iron deficiency cause hair loss? Let’s try to find answers here. Anemia is a condition caused due to decreased hemoglobin levels in red blood cells (RBCs). Continue reading to know more about anemia and its link with hair loss.

What Is Iron Deficiency?

Iron deficiency anemia (one of the types of 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 more 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):

  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Cravings for unusual items like ice or dirt
  • Swelling or soreness of the tongue
  • Tingling feeling in the legs
  • Headache
  • 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.

How Can You Treat Hair Loss Related To Iron Deficiency?

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.

3. Minoxidil

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).

Key Takeaways

  • Iron deficiency is more prevalent in women. This could be due to menstruation, pregnancy, and other factors.
  • Although research is limited, a few studies suggest that taking iron supplements may help treat hair loss.
  • Consuming a diet rich in iron may also help if you are experiencing hair loss. However, do not take iron supplements without consulting a doctor.

The link between iron deficiency and hair loss has yet to be confirmed. This is because of various reasons, including heredity, which can cause hair loss. While some believe that a mineral deficiency can cause hair loss, the evidence is still inconclusive. Hair loss caused by iron deficiency should only be temporary. It’s always a good idea to see your doctor to talk about treatment choices and get on the road to better health as soon as possible. Your doctor can assist you in altering your diet to ensure that you obtain the proper amount of iron for your needs. On the other hand, iron deficiency can have major long-term health consequences. To restore your body’s iron levels, ensure you eat the right foods and take the right supplements.

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).

References:

Sources

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Dr. Nithya Raghunath

(MBBS, MD )
Dr. Nithya Raghunath is a leading dermatologist and cosmetologist practicing at Contura Clinic in Bengaluru, India. She specializes in various... more

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