For anybody suffering from hair loss, it can be an extremely unnerving experience. Many people going through such an ordeal will often express feelings of anxiety, and low self-esteem. Chances are that if you are feeling any of the above, you have come online in search of answers and effective solutions.
Shedding hair is a completely normal process and in most cases not a cause for concern. We can lose between 50 to 100 strands of hair in a day, often going completely unnoticed. However, in some instances hair loss can be caused by a range of underlying issues.
More often than not, lifestyle factors and dietary habits play a big role in hair loss for both men and women. Typical causes of hair loss include hormonal imbalances, stress, rapid weight loss, illness or lack of proper nutrients in the body, namely the mineral iron.
While iron deficiency hair loss can be stressful, it can also be easily treated through a few simple changes in your daily routine.
Below you will find helpful information on iron deficiency as a possible cause of hair loss, including why it happens and how to effectively treat it.
Iron deficiency can cause anemia, where the body is lacking in healthy red blood cells that are responsible for transporting oxygen to various tissues. Iron is an essential component in the production of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood.
If you suspect your hair loss is due to iron deficiency, consulting your doctor will allow for a proper diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and additional tests if necessary. As tempting as it may seem, self-diagnosis and treatment with iron supplements is not the way to go. Overloading your body with iron can cause a whole host of unwanted complications including liver damage, heart disease and diabetes, even in the case of mild overload.
At its onset, signs of iron deficiency can be so mild as to go undetected. Over time, these symptoms can intensify and become significantly more obvious as the anemia worsens.
Hair loss resulting from iron deficiency, typically manifests through thinning hair in the middle portion of the scalp, as well as a receding hairline. You may also notice more of your scalp is visible when your hair is wet or when standing under bright light.
In addition to hair loss, the following symptoms can be indicative of iron deficiency anemia:
Less common symptoms include:
Iron is one of the most important minerals for stimulating hair growth. Without adequate iron, hair follicles are unable to grow new cells and regenerate.
Iron deficiency is the direct result of either a lack of sufficient consumption of iron-rich foods or a reduced ability by the body to absorb iron from such foods. Conditions that can increase susceptibility to iron-deficiency anemia include:
Women who are pregnant have higher iron requirements. Iron is needed to sustain their own increased blood volume as well as the growing fetus. They should check with their doctor if iron supplementation is indicated,
Blood loss, whether acute or chronic, will result in loss of iron. Women are at a considerably higher risk of iron deficiency anemia due to the blood loss during menstruation. Gastrointestinal conditions may also contribute to blood loss including hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, Crohn’s disease, colonic polyps, and even stomach or colon cancer.
If your body does not get adequate iron from the food you consume, over time it will become iron deficient. The body is better able to absorb iron from meat than it does from other sources. For this reason, people who choose to adopt a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle may need to increase their intake of iron-rich, plant-based foods or supplements in order to absorb the same amount of iron as a meat-eater.
Iron is primarily absorbed into the bloodstream through the small intestine. Intestinal disorders such as celiac disease or partial surgical removal of the intestine can significantly hinder the body’s ability to extract iron from digested food, leading to iron-deficiency anemia.
Fortunately, evidence suggests that hair loss resulting from iron deficiency does not permanently scar or damage hair follicles. Making a few simple changes to your diet or treating any digestive disorders can therefore, help to replace the hair you have lost.
If you suspect that your hair loss is a result of iron deficiency, a simple blood test by your doctor can confirm this. If the results from the test show that your hemoglobin or iron is low, you may be prescribed iron tablets to replenish the iron missing from your body.
A diet rich in iron is the first step in combating hair loss. Types of food that are a great source of iron include:
For those who observe a vegan or vegetarian diet, the following plant-based foods also contain large amounts of iron:
Consuming vitamin C in combination with such foods can enhance the body’s ability to efficiently absorb dietary iron.
If an intestinal or digestive condition is diminishing your intake of iron, your doctor will need to determine the underlying causes and take action to provide effective treatment.
Other than that, there are a number of hair loss treatments available on the market that have proven effective in restoring hair loss brought about by a lack of iron:
Minoxidil is a non-prescription product that is proven to speed up hair regeneration and prevent further hair loss. Approved for both men and women, it is applied to the scalp once or twice daily. During the initial stage of application minoxidil can lead to an increase in shedding, at around 6 months, you should be able to detect visible, positive results. It is important to note that continued application is necessary to retain a benefit.
Finasteride is a prescription drug which is currently, only approved for men with male-pattern baldness. Taken on a daily basis in pill form, it can considerably slow or stop hair loss, and in some cases, lead to new hair growth.
A hair transplant procedure is a good option for advanced hair loss, or hair loss which does not respond to medical therapy. The treatment consists of a surgeon removing small patches of skin consisting of several hair strands from the back or side of the scalp, and implanting that hair into the balding areas of the scalp. Several transplant sessions may be needed to achieve desired results and the reults may not always be permanent. Some doctors recommend applying minoxidil or taking finasteride post-treatment to offset additional hair loss.
Low-level laser treatment consists of light technology that essentially stimulates dormant hair follicles and is clinically proven to induce regrowth for thicker and fuller hair. While it is approved as an effective treatment for hair loss in both men and women, further research is needed to establish the long-term effects of the treatment.
Almost all remedies for hair loss come with side effects and possible risks. It is therefore important that you always consult a doctor before considering any type of treatment. Your doctor will advise you on which option is best for you.