Hair loss due to iron deficiency

Hair loss due to iron deficiency

Iron is a crucial mineral needed by the body for the formation of haemoglobin. It absorbs oxygen in the lungs and transports it throughout the body, including the hair follicles. When your body does not have enough iron, this iron deficiency can lead to hair loss. Is this cause for concern and is there anything you can do about it? Read more about it here.

How does iron deficiency cause hair loss?

Hair follicles need a constant supply of oxygen to stay healthy and function properly. If you don't get enough iron, the oxygen supply is reduced in the blood. This can lead to weakened hair follicles and eventually hair loss. This can happen because it disrupts the hair growth cycle.

The hair growth cycle consists of three phases: the anagen, catagen and telogen phases. In the anagen phase, which can last from 2 to 7 years, hair actively grows, and new hairs are formed. The catagen phase is a short transitional phase of about 2 to 3 weeks in which the hair follicle shrinks and hair growth stops. Finally, the telogen phase is a resting phase of about 3 months, during which the hair finally falls out and gives way to new hair. In a normal situation, this cycle repeats continuously, allowing healthy hair growth. An iron deficiency can disrupt this cycle, causing more hair to enter the resting phase (telogen phase) and eventually fall out. That's not the only thing an iron deficiency does. Other symptoms of iron deficiency include:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Palpitations
  • Brittle nails
  • Cold-feeling hands and feet

How do you know if you are iron deficient?

It usually takes a while before iron deficiency becomes noticeable. As long as only the body's iron stores are dwindling, but there is still enough iron available for immediate consumption, you won't notice much. Only when the trace element can no longer be released quickly enough from stores in the liver or spleen, causing a deficiency in the cells, do the first symptoms appear. These include dry skin, itching, tongue pain, pain when swallowing or cracked corners of the mouth. Brittle hair or nails also occur at this stage, as well as hair loss due to iron deficiency. In severe cases, when large parts of the body receive insufficient iron, severe symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, lethargy, headaches, sleep disturbances and sometimes even shortness of breath may occur.

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The chances of iron deficiency

The chances of being iron deficient are not high, however, there are groups of people with a higher risk of it. These are girls and women of childbearing age. Because of their periods, they lose blood monthly. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are also more likely to suffer from iron deficiency. In addition, it is important for young children and vegetarians to pay extra attention to iron intake. The reason that iron deficiency is not common is that the body often takes care of itself to get more iron from food when there is a threat of deficiency

Diagnosis and treatment of iron deficiency

If you suspect that your hair loss is due to iron deficiency, consult a doctor for a blood test to check your iron levels. In addition, there are preventive measures to take anyway:

  • Maintain a balanced diet with sufficient iron.
  • Avoid excessive consumption of tea and coffee during meals, as these can reduce iron absorption.
  • Consider periodic blood tests if you are at risk of iron deficiency, such as in women with heavy menstrual periods or vegetarians.

However, it is more likely that there are other causes for your hair loss. Stress, medication use, hormone fluctuations or heredity are more common factors of hair loss than iron deficiency. Check carefully with yourself what could be the cause. It is always wise to make an appointment with your doctor. The latter can help you and see the bigger picture.

The best treatment

Although rare, iron deficiency can certainly lead to hair loss. It is important to recognise this cause early and address it. If you notice that you are losing more hair than usual, you can get your iron levels checked by consulting a doctor for appropriate treatment. But; do not jump to conclusions. Hair loss can have several causes.
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