What Causes Thinning Hair
Two of the most common non-hereditary causes of hair loss are low thyroid function and iron deficiency. Both are relatively common, especially in women. And although they are two completely different conditions, they share some of the same symptoms. In addition to hair loss, fatigue and cold hands and feet can be signs of both low thyroid and iron deficiency. These conditions are readily diagnosed with a simple blood test. They can be easily corrected, either with replacement thyroid hormones or iron supplements.
Causes Of Iron Deficiency
Anemia or low iron levels can be caused by several different factors, including a variety of medical conditions, diseases and, ultimately, a poor diet. The main contributing factors include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Medical conditions to slow your ability to absorb iron from your diet
- A poor quality diet
- Medications or food choices that hinder the absorption of iron in your diet
How Much Iron Do You Need
The average women aged 19 to 50 requires 18 mg of iron per day to be in a healthy range. After the age of 50, iron requirements fall to 8 mg per day.
Your iron requirements jump dramatically during pregnancy. Talk to your doc.
Studies have shown that diets that have a lot of foods with low nutrient value that are high in calories can contribute significantly to iron deficiency. These include foods like sodas, potato chips, candy, ironically, all of my favorite things, and likely what led to my problems with iron and hair loss.
For the record, there are two main types of iron in your food choices heme and non-heme . Typically, heme iron is absorbed more effectively.
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Hair Loss May Be A Symptom Of Serious Illness
A sensitive way to check total body iron stores is to measure the amount of ferritin in the blood. Ferritin is a protein that plays an important role in iron storage. As a general rule, the less ferritin in the blood, the less iron a body has stored up.
Cotsarelis and Trost say that what most doctors consider to be a normal ferritin level is, in fact, too low. Ferritin levels of 10-15 ng/mL are within the “normal” range. Cotsarelis says a ferritin level of at least 50 ng/mL is needed to help replenish hair. Trost and Bergfeld shoot for 70 ng/mL.
“Doctors see ferritin levels in the normal range, and don’t do anything,” Cotsarelis says. “But the normal range is wrong, I think. The normal range for women is 10-120 ng/ML, and for men it is 30-250 ng/mL. Why should a man’s be lower than a woman’s? Mostly because women are iron deficient. It is almost a public health problem. Hair loss is only an indication of this.”
Cotsarelis and colleagues have found that women with hair loss have significantly lower iron stores than women without hair loss. Surprisingly, this was particularly true for women with alopecia areata, a form of hair loss caused by haywire immune responses.
Women who frequently have heavy menstrual periods often become iron deficient. “If you have a healthy woman with hair loss, you can assume iron deficiency,” Trost says.
Study: Folic Acid Therapy For Alopecia In A Charolais Calf
Researchers from Ontario Veterinary College in Canada conducted a study that involved folic acid therapy on a Charolais bull calf .
The three-week-old calf had a history of progressive hair loss and clinical signs, including crusts and brown patches similar to those in folic acid deficiency syndrome in man.
To test the theory that vitamin B9 deficiency was at play, the researchers treated the calf with 1 mg/kg/day of an oral folic acid supplement.
Within two weeks, the researchers noted a gradual disappearance of the crusting and brown patches. And within two months, there was a steady growth of hair.
As concluded by the researchers, folic acid may serve as an effective therapeutic agent in some types of alopecia triggered by a deficiency of either folic acid or the co-enzymes involved in the synthetic pathway of DNA.
Does the lack of further studies on the topic mean that folate is not important for hair growth?
It would be nice, however, for more in-depth studies to be performed on the subject.
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# 14 Biotin For Hair Loss
Biotin is considered to be food for your hair, and it plays a huge role in hair loss.
It is one of the most important vitamins you can have in your diet for healthy hair growth, and it may be that you will need supplements to get as much as you need.
Two foods that are excellent sources of biotin are liver and egg yolks, but you need to eat so much of these that it is much better to take supplements, or you would be doing nothing but eating liver and eggs all day long.
If you are eating a healthy diet, but find that you are still not getting all of the vitamins you need for optimal health and to avoid or treat hair loss, you may want to consider taking vitamin supplements.
Hypoferritinemia Without Anemia : Is It Consistently Implicated
Ferritin is a measure of iron storage levels in body. In order to get a sense of a patients iron status, we measure ferritin levels rather than iron. Males tend to have higher ferritin levels than females. Premenopausal women tend to have lower ferritin levels than post menopausal women. Extremely low ferritin levels have many potential side effect and may prevent the body from making hemoglobin – a condition which is called anemia. However, many patients have low ferritin levels without actually having an anemia. This condition is sometimes called hypoferritinemia without anemia or HWA.
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Provides Relief From Premenstrual Symptoms
Studies suggest that a high intake of iron can provide relief from premenstrual symptoms like dizziness, mood swings, hypertension, etc. As per research conducted by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, women who enjoy an iron-rich diet have 30 to 40 per cent lower risk of experiencing PMS compared to women who consume less iron .
How Much Iron Do I Need
Although it’s not a good idea to take iron supplements unless you know you need them, it is a good idea to make sure your diet contains enough iron to meet your needs. Here are the recommended daily allowances for various groups:
- Adolescent girls: 15 mg per day
- Adolescent boys: 11 mg per day
- Adult men and post-menopausal women: 8 mg per day
- Menstruating women: 18 mg per day
- Pregnant women: 27 mg per day
The three groups that are most likely to fall short are adolescent girls and premenopausal or pregnant women.
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Should You Supplement With Iron
Definitely not unless youve been tested and are definitively low. Iron is one of those nutrients for which overdose is both possible and serious if it occurs. Its also relatively hard to absorb, so it helps if its given on an empty stomach, in a non-constipating chelated form, along with certain other nutrients like Vitamin C that will aid in its absorption.
It will take at least a few months and sometimes up to a year with ferritin at adequate levels before you are likely to see significant hair regrowth, so do your best to be patient.
If you have the opportunity to see a naturopathic doctor, please do so. It is always best to have someone to coordinate your care. However, if you have had your ferritin tested, if it is below 70 and if you are losing hair, I recommend this form of iron: it is gentler on the stomach and easier to absorb. Always re-check your ferritin levels in another 3 months.
How To Increase Ferritin Level
There is a direct relationship between the circulating iron in the body and the stored iron in ferritin. Hence it is important to increase the level of iron which in turn increases ferritin level. Here are some of the ways to increase iron level and hence ferritin level-
Including foods containing the heme iron supplements which are better absorbed by the body. It is present in animal products. Some of the foods are liver, beef, turkey, and chicken.
Iron in nonheme form in plants also may be included. It is found in foods like beans, nuts, spinach, and green leafy vegetables. Compared to heme form, the nonheme form has lesser degree of absorption.
Including foods which help in better absorption of iron in the diet like citrus fruits, and food containing vitamin C.
Sometimes, iron rich foods are not sufficient. In such cases, doctors may advice digestive enzymes, high dose probiotics, liver pills and also iron supplements. In some extreme deficient conditions, intravenous iron is also advised by the doctor when the patient is not able to take iron orally. All these depend on whether there is a good ferritin level for hair growth.
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How To Choose The Best Flat Iron For Natural Hair
Look for heat settings. The most important thing to look for when choosing a flat iron is the temperature control settings, says Hope Mitchell M.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of Mitchell Dermatology. Make sure the iron has more than just an off and switch so that you can control the heat, she adds.
Choose the right plate. I suggest using ceramic irons over titanium ones, says Stevens. Titanium can be too strong on the hair strands because the plates dont have pores, which makes ceramic a bit more gentle, and its better for retention, she explains.
Use the correct temperature. Not all hair textures require high temperatures. If you have color-treated hair, I recommend staying at 350 degrees or under, says Kendall Dorsey, celebrity hairstylist whose clients include Alicia Keys. Thicker and kinkier textures can go for a higher setting like 375 degrees, he advises.
Use a heat protectant. All experts agree that you should use a heat protectant before applying any type of heat to natural hair. This will protect the curls by sealing the cuticles and reduce heat damage, says Stevens.
Below, find 13 of the best flat irons for natural hair, including selects from experts and top-rated options. Whether you’re looking for a lightweight hair straightener that is easy to use or a flat iron thats small enough to straighten your baby hairs, youre guaranteed to find a tool youll love.
What Does Iron Deficiency Hair Loss Look Like
You may find hair loss due to iron deficiency similar to female or male pattern hair loss as your hair starts to shed off unusually. You may be experiencing iron deficiency hair loss if you have short, wispy hair strands around the hairline and temple region. You may also notice bald spots across your scalp in severe cases.
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Hair Loss It May Be Iron Deficiency
Too Little Iron in Blood of Men and Women Shedding Hair
May 17, 2006 – If you’re losing hair, you may have an iron deficiency.
A review of 40 years of research shows that iron deficiency has a much closer link to hair loss than most doctors realize. It may be the key to restoring hair growth, Cleveland Clinic dermatologists find.
“We believe that treatment for hair loss is enhanced when iron deficiency, with or without anemia, is treated,” Leonid Benjamin Trost, MD Wilma Fowler Bergfeld, MD and Ellen Calogeras, RD, MPH, write in the May issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
It’s a controversial issue. Not every study shows a link between iron deficiency and hair loss. Trost says there’s not enough hard evidence — yet — to make iron-deficiency screening a routine procedure for people with hair loss.
But study researcher Bergfeld has been doing this for years. And she’s finding that whatever the cause of hair loss — for both women and men — having too little iron in the blood makes it worse.
“What Dr. Bergfeld has found in decades of experience, is when she treats patients for iron deficiency –even in the absence of anemia — it can maximize their ability to regrow hair,” Trost tells WebMD. “It is not the silver bullet for baldness, but it can definitely help maximize how a patient regrows hair.”
Too Much Iron Leads To Hair Loss
Iron is one the major power foods for healthy hair growth and is essential for a strong immune system and mental function. The current recommended intake according to European standards is 14mg a day but some foods are more easily absorbed than others. Red meat is the most potent source of iron but lentils, beans, dried fruit, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and fortified breakfast cereals also contain iron, although they arent as easily absorbed.
Too much iron in the body accumulates in tissues and organs and affects their normal function. The most susceptible organs are the liver, heart and endocrine glands and symptoms include chronic fatigue, joint pain, abdominal pain, irregular heartbeat, loss of period, lowered libido, skin colour changes and hair loss.
There are two types of iron overload, the hereditary kind known as haemochromatosis, and the acquired form. People who eat excessive amounts of red meat, take iron supplements or injections when they dont need them and have too many blood transfusions risk acquiring iron overload disorder. Taking vitamin C with foods can also increase iron absorption.
So many women are misdiagnosed as being iron deficient and are prescribed with iron supplements when it is not really necessary. There are many different kinds of anaemia and haemoglobin may be low for reasons other than iron deficiency.
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The Connection Between Ferritin And Hair Loss
Your hair follicles actually store ferritin. When your body is short on iron for its essential functions , it will steal it from the ferritin stored in less essential parts of the body, such as the hair follicle.
If your ferritin levels are sufficient, a single hair grows five years on average before falling out and being replaced. If ferritin is insufficient, this life cycle gets shorter. Low ferritin also affects the hairs ability to grow, and may change the hairs texture, rendering it weaker, more brittle, and more resistant to curl.
Don’t Take Iron Supplements Without Doctor Visit
Iron supplements are not a cure for baldness. But as part of a multipronged approach, Cotsarelis and Trost say, supplements can be a big help.
So is a diet full of iron-rich foods, such as tofu, lentils, beans, oysters, spinach, prunes, raisins, and, yes, lean beef. Learn more about the connection between your diet and alopecia.
Trost says he and Bergfeld usually recommend these foods, plus supplementation with ferrous sulfate, 325 milligrams per day taken on an empty stomach.
It’s not an easy supplement to take.
“Iron supplements cause constipation and gastrointestinal upset,” Cotsarelis says. “We try different preparations, but they but all seem to have similar problems. And there is some anecdotal evidence that orange juice, vitamin C, or lysine, if take together with the iron, helps the absorption.”
Do not take iron supplements unless a doctor has told you that you have iron deficiency, Trost warns.
“Iron supplements are available over the counter, but we recommend you take them only under the supervision of a doctor,” he says. “It is safe, when used appropriately, but if taken when inappropriate it can cause some harm. If you take a too-high dose of vitamin C, your body eliminates it — but iron doesn’t work that way. Your body can regulate how quickly it uptakes iron, but has no way to get rid of it quickly. If you are not deficient, you can get iron overload, which can be dangerous.”
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