Proof of Iron Deficiency Link to Hair Loss
However, back in May of 2006, the evidence of iron deficiency link to hair loss was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology published titled, “The Diagnosis and Treatment of Iron Deficiency and Its Potential Relationship To Hair Loss.” This was written by dermatologists at the Cleveland Clinic who discussed their observations in addressing iron deficiencies in hair loss patients. According to the team members, Leonid Benjamin Trost, MD; Wilma Fowler Bergfeld, MD; and Ellen Calogeras, RD, MPH, treatments seemed to be enhanced when implementing interventions for restoring proper levels of iron. And likewise, hair loss is actually exacerbated when the patient has lower levels of this mineral.
Although it is not a widespread and universal practice, the clinic screens hair loss patients for iron deficiencies and recommends appropriate supplementation. Depleted levels are addressed regardless of the presence of anemia. They noticed that this helps to optimize the ability to regrow hair and slow or stop shedding.
What Causes Iron Deficiencies
Iron deficiencies and anemia don’t always go hand in hand. There are basically three ways this mineral can become depleted from the body.
Loss of blood can occur from factors like:
– heavy menstruation
– ulcers, stomach inflammations and even colon cancer
(2) Severe physical injuries
(3) Lowered ability to absorb iron may be due to:
– medications which lower stomach acids
– chronic diarrhea
– partial or total removal of digestive organs such as the stomach or small intestine
– achlorhydria – a condition where no stomach acid is produced
How to Test for Iron Levels
In order to determine whether a patient has low iron levels, doctors measure the levels of a protein called ferritin. Ferritin is a protein in the blood which helps store iron in the body. According to hair clinics who screen for iron deficiencies, normal levels have been defined as 10-15ng/mL. But in order to improve hair loss, 50-70ng/mL are needed.
Supplementing the Body To Treat Hair Loss
Iron supplements are widely available over the counter. And they can be helpful from the perspective of enhancing the health of the entire body, which in turn benefits the follicles. Patients may consider eating a well rounded diet consisting of foods rich in iron. Examples include:
However, a focus on iron is not a cure for baldness. Individuals who are losing hair should never try to treat themselves for deficiencies to encourage new growth. Some nutrients like vitamin C can easily be flushed out of the body when amounts are too high. This is not the case with iron. It is rather difficult for the body to dispose of excess amounts.
Too much iron (much like vitamin D) can be harmful. Gastrointestinal disturbances and constipation may result.
Therefore, iron supplementation should be done under the guidance of a physician as part of a more comprehensive treatment plan.
To learn more about foods that can help prevent or slow the rate of hair loss, click here.