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Treat Low Iron to Reverse Hair Loss
It is natural for people who are becoming bald to worry about their hair loss. A natural reaction from anyone who experiences hair-loss is to wonder why. Why is this happening? Why are they the ones who have to suffer bald heads and hair loss? This reaction happens in men and women no matter what their ages. No one wants to be bald. No one would like to lose their hair and be left with unsightly bald spots and thinning patches. Being entirely honest with ourselves, we all know that it does not look healthy when young men and women begin to lose their hair. The truth is that hair loss can indeed be a sign of an illness. Iron deficiency anemia, the most common type of anemia in the western world (Killip, 2007) and interestingly it has been extensively linked directly to hair loss (Shrivastava, 2009). This link is seen in both men and women. Iron deficiency anemia is extremely common and being tested for it is simple. Anyone worried about their hair loss should consider it as a factor. A simple blood test your doctor can perform in his own office or nearby lab is a reasonable start in testing for low iron levels.
The low blood counts in anemia aren’t the cause of the hair loss, just a sign of the low iron levels. Iron is used by your body to generate new cells and keep DNA reading systems in your cells functioning normally (Rushton, 1990). Your hair and your blood are the most rapidly reproducing cells in your body. That’s why when people need chemotherapy they go bald and become anemic. Chemotherapy usually interferes with the process of cell division and the way the body reads and uses DNA. The same idea confirms why people have hair loss with low iron before they have other symptoms. All cells that need to reproduce quickly, like hair follicles and red blood cells, are the first affected when you have a low level of a needed nutrient in your body. Your hair is very sensitive and your hair loss may be a symptom of low iron levels. You may hear that anemia causes hair loss, but that is not true. Low iron causes hair loss and it also causes anemia but one does not cause the other. They are both symptoms of an underlying deficiency of iron. In fact a study in 2009 showed that women with diffuse hair loss had a significantly increased chance of having low iron levels that was undiagnosed until they were evaluated for their hair loss (Moeinvaziri, 2009). These patients did not have other medical problems, and as far back as 1963 there are reports of women with hair loss and low iron without anemia (Hard, 1963). Consider this if you have hair loss and you blood test is normal, it may take some more specific testing like testing the blood for ferritin, transferin and total iron binding capacity. Even if the complete blood count is normal these other tests can diagnose an iron deficiency and should be considered when appropriate.
There is good news. They can both be corrected and reversed. Unlike some other causes of hair loss once your treat iron deficiency your hair can grow back big thick and healthy (Trost, 2006). You will also likely begin to feel better and look better. Low iron levels can make you bald, but if you also get low blood counts you can look pale and “sickly”. Correcting the iron levels can correct all these findings helping you look your best. Iron deficiency is very common, and it is seen more in women than in men. It is important to think about low iron as a cause of your hair loss if you are young women of child bearing age. Other people who are at higher risk are vegetarians, and people with chronic diseases like Crohn’s disease, lupus or kidney problems. But you don’t need another medical problem to have low iron levels, it can be found commonly in people who are otherwise healthy and it can be corrected easily with vitamins or iron infusion.
You should be careful not to take too many iron supplements because it can cause constipation and, if you have some genetic diseases like hemochromatosis or liver problems, it can cause very serious side effects. Please make sure you don’t have these risks before starting iron supplementation and that you do suffer from Iron deficiency or Iron anemia (don’t forget to take a blood test to confirm). Taking extra iron in controlled levels is safe for most people without causing any side effects at all. When used appropriately, iron supplementation can be a safe and effective way to cure baldness and reverse hair loss as well as treat anemia.
1- Killip S, Bennett JM, Chambers, MD “Iron Deficiency Anemia” Am Fam Physician. 2007 Mar 1;75(5):671-678.
2- Shrivastava SB. “Diffuse hair loss in an adult female: approach to diagnosis and management”. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 75(1):20-7; quiz 27-8, 2009 Jan-Feb
3- Rushton, DH, Ramsey, ID, James, KC et al. Biochemical and trichological characterisation of diffuse alopecia in women. Br J Dermatol.; 1990, 123, 187 197.
4- Moeinvaziri M. Mansoori P. Holakooee K. et al. “Iron status in diffuse telogen hair loss among women.” Acta Dermatovenerologica Croatica. 17(4):279-84, 2009.
5- Hard, S. Non-anaemic iron deficiency as an etiologic factor in diffuse loss of hair of the scalp in women. Acta Derm Venereol (Stockh).; 1963, 43, 562 569.
6- Trost LB. Bergfeld WF. Calogeras E. “The diagnosis and treatment of iron deficiency and its potential relationship to hair loss.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 54(5):824-44, 2006 May.
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