Consult With Your Doctor
If youre experiencing hair loss and you think it might be caused by low ferritin, or if youve noticed any of the symptoms associated with an iron deficiency, its time to see a doctor. A few simple blood tests are all it takes and will likely include tests for your complete blood count , serum iron, total iron-binding capacity and serum ferritin concentration.
If your doctor determines through a ferritin test that you’re dealing with iron deficiency hair loss, the good news is that its not permanent. Plus, the way to stimulate hair growth could be as simple as upping your iron intake.
Prevention Of Iron Deficiency
While it is not always possible to prevent iron deficiency, people can take steps to reduce their risk of developing the condition. These include:
- Eating a diet that contains iron-rich foods
- Avoiding excessive consumption of substances that can interfere with iron absorption
- Taking precautions to prevent malaria when traveling to regions where the disease is prevalent
- Regular screening where there is a high risk of iron deficiency
It is not advisable to take iron supplements unless an iron deficiency has been confirmed by a medical practitioner, as taking more iron than needed can cause side-effects and interfere with the absorption of other important minerals. Too much iron can be toxic.
Iron Deficiency Anaemia And Hair Loss
Iron deficiency anaemia is a condition wherein your body lacks iron to make enough red blood cells. Red blood cells contain haemoglobin, which carries oxygen around your body to your tissues, allowing them to function.
How does a lack of red blood cells affect your hair? When your body is short of oxygen, it channels its available supply to your vital organs to keep them alive, rather than to your hair follicles. Without oxygen, your hair follicles cease to function properly, and your hair may fall out. In fact, a large proportion of people who come into our Trichological Clinics for hair loss treatment, have some degree of anaemia.
- The symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia include:
- Extreme tiredness
- Heart palpitations
- Diffuse hair loss from the scalp
Anaemia can occur if your diet lacks iron-rich foods, or if you are not absorbing iron adequately. Other causes of anaemia include loss of blood , growth spurts in children, illness, and pregnancy. In fact, pregnant women need increased iron to deliver blood and oxygen to their baby, and therefore often become anaemic. Some iron is also lost in sweat, so high levels of exercise can lead to low iron levels, if not replaced enough through the diet. Low iron levels can often occur with vegetarian and vegan diets, if care is not taken to include non-animal sources of iron.
- Serum Iron
- Transferrin Saturation
- Full blood count
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Symptoms Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 is essential in making red blood cells that carry oxygen to the hair follicles. When vitamin B12 levels are low, your hair follicles may not be able to grow new hair as efficiently, resulting in hair loss. A vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause symptoms of anemia, which is associated with low iron levels, hair thinning, and hair loss.
If you’re young and have noticed your hair turning grey, it could be due to a vitamin B12 deficiency. According to research, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to premature hair greying.
Other signs of B12 deficiency include:
- Weakness and fatigue
- Changes in the way you walk
What Is Iron Deficiency Anemia
Youve probably heard of iron deficiencyor maybe even had it yourself. Research estimates between 3050% of children and other groups worldwide have anemia due to lack of iron. This is especially prevalent in developing countries of Africa, for example, because many kids dont get enough iron from their diet .
When you dont get enough iron, it especially affects your bone marrow. The marrow is where hemoglobin is created, a process that depends on iron. Hemoglobin is what gives blood its signature shade of redmore importantly, it enables blood cells to transport oxygen throughout your body.
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What Is Anemia What Causes It
Anemia occurs when -for various reasons- haemoglobin levels in the blood become reduced haemoglobin is a protein composed of iron whose function is to transport oxygen through the red blood cells from lungs to tissues then, the same haemoglobin makes the reverse way, transporting carbon dioxide that is formed after consuming oxygen from tissues to lungs, before being expelled.
What happens if haemoglobin levels drop? Well, then anemia occurs. Most common symptoms of anemia are pale skin, continuous tiredness, and weakness in tissues such as nails it can also cause dizziness and headaches, arrhythmias, and breath difficulty .
The most common type of anemia is iron deficiency anemia, caused by a decrease in the level of iron in our body. Keep in mind that haemoglobin contains 70% of the iron in our body, so it is easy to understand that if we do not have enough iron, this important protein will lose its effectiveness.
Some diseases, an unbalanced diet, pregnancy, or blood loss caused by wounds or menstruation, can be a cause of anemia. The question is: is there a relationship between iron deficiency anemia and hair loss? Let’s see it below.
Fast Or Irregular Heartbeat Feeling Anxious
Noticeable heartbeats, also known as heart palpitations, can be another symptom of iron-deficiency anaemia.
Haemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that helps transport oxygen around the body. In iron deficiency, low levels of haemoglobin mean the heart has to work extra hard to carry oxygen.
The lack of oxygen available to body tissues in iron deficiency may also cause feelings of anxiety. However, this tends to improve or resolve as iron levels are corrected.
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Supplements You Can Take To Improve Your Hair
Aside from iron deficiencies, other nutritional deficiencies may cause poor hair health. Taking supplements may improve the quality of your hair, but the effects of those who take supplements without deficiencies can vary. Excess nutrition can lead to negative effects, so its best to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any of these supplements:
- Vitamin A creates sebum, your bodys natural oils which can keep your scalp and hair moisturized.
- Biotin plays a role in creating keratin, a protein thats the building block of healthy hair.
- Vitamin C an antioxidant that blocks free radicals from premature aging your hair. Vitamin C can also help produce collagen, which is essential for healthy hair, and help your body absorb iron more efficiently.
- Vitamin D though its role in hair growth is unknown, low levels of vitamin D are linked to hair loss.
- Vitamin E an antioxidant that can prevent oxidation, which can prematurely age your hair.
- Zinc essential for hair tissue growth and repair by keeping your sebaceous glands and hair follicles healthy.
How Does Anemia Cause Hair Loss
Without adequate iron, your body cant produce red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to hair follicles to help promote normal, healthy hair growth. Inadequate iron levels can cause a type of temporary hair loss called telogen effluvium. During telogen effluvium, more hair follicles than usual go from the growing phase to the shedding phase. As a result, hair appears thinner.
If you have hair loss from anemia, you may notice more hair in the shower drain than usual. Anemia-related hair loss can also look like male pattern hair loss, with a receding hairline or a widening part.
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Causes Of Iron Deficiency
There are a number of possible causes of iron deficiency . Many of these involve different types of blood loss, which equates to the loss of cells that contain iron. An iron deficiency can result as a consequence.
Causes of iron deficiency include:
Other possible causes of iron deficiency include blood loss from surgery, chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and overtraining in athletes. Diets very high in substances that interfere with iron absorption may also be implicated in the development of iron deficiency. Heavy nosebleeds and blood donation can also lead to iron deficiency, though these potential causes may be overlooked by healthcare practitioners.
Causes Of Iron Deficiency Anaemia
In pregnancy, iron deficiency anaemia is most often caused by a lack of iron in your diet.
Heavy periods and pregnancy are very common causes of iron deficiency anaemia. Heavy periods can be treated with medicine.
For men and for women whose periods have stopped, bleeding in the stomach and intestines is the most common cause of iron deficiency anaemia. This can be caused by:
- inflammation of the bowel or food pipe
- cancers of the bowel or stomach but this is less common
Any other conditions or actions that cause blood loss could also lead to iron deficiency anaemia.
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Treatment For Iron Deficiency Anaemia
Once the reason you have anaemia has been found the GP will recommend treatment.
If the blood test shows your red blood cell count is low, you’ll be prescribed iron tablets to replace the iron that’s missing from your body.
The prescribed tablets are stronger than the supplements you can buy in pharmacies and supermarkets.
Youll need to take them for about 6 months. Drinking orange juice after you’ve taken a tablet may help your body absorb the iron.
Follow the GPs advice about how to take iron tablets.
Some people get side effects when taking iron tablets like:
- constipation or diarrhoea
- feeling sick
- black poo
Try taking the tablets with or soon after food to reduce the chance of side effects.
It’s important to keep taking the tablets, even if you get side effects.
Your GP may carry out repeat blood tests over the next few months to check that your iron level is getting back to normal.
Does Anemia Cause Weight Loss
There is a link between anemia and weight loss, which makes the latter a symptom of the former.
Knowing the symptoms that anemia causes, we can see that it can cause gastrointestinal involvement. Lack of appetite can cause significant weight loss, which in extreme cases worsens the state of health. Weight loss would be due to the lack of absorption of the necessary nutrients for our body.
Also, just as anemia can lead to weight loss, there is a possibility that it could be the other way around: weight loss can lead to anemia. This is due to the deficit of nutrients necessary for the normal functioning of red blood cells.
The main cause of anemia due to weight loss, by decreasing food intake, is the deficiency of vitamin B12, iron and folic acid, which are part of our red blood cells.
Unfortunately, there are countless diseases that lead to weight loss from multiple causes, thus worsening the anemia situation. An example of this are intestinal diseases that prevent the absorption of vitamins and minerals and that end in pernicious or iron deficiency anemia.
The need for further research
There is a relationship between anemia and weight loss, but they do not have to go hand in hand. On numerous occasions, the appearance of these pathological processes are signs of other diseases, of which the cause must be ruled out. When there are signs of anemia or involuntary or excessive weight loss,healthcare professionals should make a thorough examination.
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Diagnosis Of Iron Deficiency
After taking the personâs medical history and performing a physical examination, a doctor will typically request blood tests to confirm the diagnosis of iron deficiency.
A blood test called a full blood count is used to examine the number and size of the red blood cells and the amount of haemoglobin in the red blood cells. The results of this test will generally indicate whether the person has anemia and what kind of anemia it may be. This can help the doctor to identify possible causes. However, because there are multiple different types and causes of anemia, further tests may be required.
Other blood tests may be ordered to check the levels of ferritin in the blood â this usually provides a good indication of the total iron stores in the body. Low ferritin levels typically indicate iron deficiency. However, the results may be unreliable if there is any infection or inflammation, as well as in cases where heart failure, liver disease, cancer or hyperthyroidism is present, as these conditions may be accompanied by unusual ferritin levels.
If the cause of the iron deficiency is not clear, the doctor may recommend one or more of the following diagnostic tests:
The doctor may need to differentiate the diagnosis of iron deficiency from other conditions that can cause many of the same symptoms, such as thyroid disorders. People experiencing symptoms that may be linked to iron deficiency or a related condition can use the free Ada app to carry out a symptom assessment.
How To Diagnose Iron Deficiency
One might be experiencing terrible hair thinning and hair loss and we may all assume that it is as a result of iron deficiency. However, it is not assured until a test is done in the medical centers. For a conclusion to be drawn, for instance on the real cause of hair loss as iron deficiency, a diagnosis is definitely done. This is a test to determine whether the patient in question is actually lacking as much iron as the body requires. Doctors have three ways to determine the levels of iron in ones body. These are discussed as follows
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Which Foods Should I Eat And Which Foods Should I Avoid If I Have Anemia
With anemia, making good food choices is important. Eating junk food means you are getting calories without nutrients. You also have to consider other medical conditions that you have when you make your food choices.
Some things have been shown to impair iron absorption. You should not take calcium and iron supplements at the same time. In addition, you may want to avoid or limit these items:
- Tannin-containing items like coffee, tea and some spices.
- Egg whites.
- Soy protein.
In general, you should eat iron-rich foods and foods that provide vitamins B12, B9 and C. This means that you can enjoy plenty of good food that is for you, whether you eat meat or not. You can get iron from plant sources like lentils, spinach and pistachios. You can get iron from protein sources like lean beef and turkey. Whole grains and dark leafy vegetables are good sources of B vitamins. Some foods are even fortified with iron.
Citrus fruits, berries and other vitamin C-containing foods like peppers and tomatoes improve iron consumption. It is a good idea to get advice from your healthcare provider or perhaps from a registered dietitian about the best ways to eat when you have anemia. Also, make sure that grapefruit does not interfere with any of your medications.