Were you aware that the average person sheds not 10, not even 20, but up to whopping 100 hair strands daily? The good news is that, under normal circumstances, new ones grow to replace all that lost hair.
However, if you lack iron, your hair may not grow back as it should. Or even if it does, it may be too weak, making it prone to breakage, hair shedding, and further hair loss.
That's because, according to researchers, there's a link between low iron and hair loss. Fortunately, there are ways to treat and prevent iron-related hair loss.
That said, we came up with this guide discussing the most crucial facts you need to know about the two. So keep reading, as we'll cover the following topics:
According to experts, hair development, growth, and maintenance rely on blood supply. The blood vessels on the scalp, in turn, provide the hair follicles with the blood they need. From there, the blood delivers nutrients and oxygen to the hair, helping it grow as it should.
A chief component in blood that allows it to carry oxygen is hemoglobin. It's a protein in the red blood cells (RBCs) the body produces through nutrients like iron.
Likewise, hemoglobin helps RBCs retrieve carbon dioxide from organs and tissues. It then transports the collected CO2 to the lungs for exhalation.
All those functions indicate that having adequate hemoglobin is necessary for healthy hair. For the same reason, a lack of it, which low iron levels can cause, can lead to weak hair or hair loss. However, deficiencies in vitamins like B, C, and D, may also contribute to hair loss.
Please note that some medicines can also cause hair shedding or hair loss. Some examples include drugs to control blood pressure or treat thyroid conditions.
If you're taking those medications and hair loss occurs, please don't just stop using them. Instead, talk to your doctor about alternatives.
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Having low iron levels can ultimately lead to iron-deficiency anemia. It's a condition wherein the blood doesn't have enough RBCs because of a lack of iron. It can cause symptoms like tiredness, fatigue, breathing problems, nausea, and difficulty concentrating.
As for iron deficiency or low iron hair loss, it can look like male pattern hair loss. It can sometimes start with a receding hairline, forming a distinct M shape on the scalp. In some men, the hair thins at the crown, ultimately leaving a bald spot at the top of the head.
In the early stages, though, iron deficiency and hair loss can show up as increased shedding. For example, you may notice more strands blocking up the shower drain. You may also see more hair entangled in your hairbrushes.
Yes, you can, by using an at-home iron test kit. Most involve taking a sample of your blood by pricking your finger. Once collected, you can send your blood sample to the test manufacturer.
The company then analyzes your blood. After that, they will send you the results online or by mail.
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Fortunately, iron deficiency hair loss is often temporary.
However, you must first treat your iron deficiency to help your hair grow back. The good news is that, according to studies, iron supplementation may help. It can do so by raising iron levels, which may then be enough to allow the hair to grow back.
Remember, though, that hair loss related to low iron can mimic pattern baldness. This balding process, in turn, is more often due to genes and male sex hormones, not iron.
Therefore, it may be best to see your physician, who can confirm what's causing your hair loss.
Your doctor may recommend dietary changes and supplementation if it's low iron. If it's due to pattern baldness, you may have to use prescription medications your doctor suggests.
If you don't have severe iron deficiency, you may be able to increase your supplies with food alone. And even if you do, feasting on iron-rich foods can still help.
Below are the top food choices that can help boost your iron levels.
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Salmon isn't only a good source of iron; it also contains omega-3 fatty acids. That makes it one of the best foods for hair growth, as these healthy fats may also help improve hair health. Moreover, it may boost strand thickness, helping them become less prone to breakage.
Chicken giblets, including the heart, liver, and gizzard, are rich in iron. For example, just one cup of these broiled innards can already deliver 15 milligrams of iron. They're also rich in vitamins A, B6, B12, selenium, riboflavin, folate, zinc, and phosphorus.
Beef organs, such as hearts and kidneys, are also good sources of iron. For instance, a 75-gram serving of simmered beef heart delivers 4.8 grams of iron. Meanwhile, a 75-gram serving of simmered beef kidneys provides 4.4 grams of iron.
Edamame beans are the green immature form of soybeans. Eaten raw, they provide more iron (2.7 milligrams per 100 grams) than green peas (0.6 mg to 1.7 mg per 100 g). Moreover, they contain many other vitamins (A, B, C, and K) and minerals (calcium, potassium, phosphorus, etc.).
Let's not forget about spinach, popularized by none other than Popeye. You may remember how he always ate a can of the green leafy veggie before his muscles all bulged up.
While that may be an exaggeration, it doesn't remove the fact that spinach is rich in iron. A 220-gram package of this veggie, eaten raw or boiled, can deliver a whopping 4.31 mg of iron. It also provides protein, dietary fibre, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.
And there you have it, your ultimate guide on low iron and hair loss. Now you know having insufficient supplies of iron can cause or contribute to hair loss. But you also learned it's preventable or reversible with diet and supplements.
So, if you believe you're losing hair due to iron insufficiency, test your levels or talk to your doctor ASAP.