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What Is the Connection between Iron Deficiency and Hair Loss?

Erin J. Hill
Erin J. Hill

The link between iron deficiency and hair loss is well-documented, although doctors are still learning how much anemia actually impacts this loss. Studies have shown that women, much more often than men, are susceptible to hair loss during times of severe anemia. It is considered the most common cause of hair loss in women before menopause.

Women who have recently given birth, are pregnant, or who engage in vigorous activity several times per week are most susceptible to the effects of iron deficiency and hair loss. Those who are menstruating may also be affected. Although these groups are more likely to suffer from problems, any woman whose iron is especially low for any reason may experience a thinning of the hair. Additionally, although women are impacted by iron deficiency and hair loss related to anemia, men can still be affected.

A man with a bald spot.
A man with a bald spot.

Patients who experience sudden or marked hair thinning may be checked for iron levels, or certain amino acid and protein levels may also be checked, since these can also be indicators of low iron levels. Not all people who have low iron will develop anemia, and not all patients with iron deficiency and hair loss are anemic.

The primary treatment for iron deficiency and hair loss resulting from it include dietary changes to include more foods which have a high iron content. This may not work for everyone and additional supplementation may be needed. In some cases, hair loss may not be caused by low iron and another condition may be to blame.

Pregnant women may be more susceptible to iron deficiency and hair loss.
Pregnant women may be more susceptible to iron deficiency and hair loss.

Pregnant women or those who have recently given birth should be sure to take enough iron daily while also eating iron-rich foods. These include red meat, lentils, beans, and many vegetables. Iron levels should also be checked at prenatal visits since low iron can also lead to anemia in the unborn child which may raise the risk of some complications.

Women are more susceptible to anemia and iron deficiency related hair loss.
Women are more susceptible to anemia and iron deficiency related hair loss.

If iron deficiency and hair loss is severe, an internal reason may be to blame. Occasionally, bleeding in the digestive tract or elsewhere in the body may cause severe blood loss and anemia. These conditions must be treated promptly to avoid additional complications. Injuries which lead to blood loss may also cause anemia, as well as especially heavy menstruation and severe bleeding after childbirth. Many of these conditions are fully treatable when detected early.

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    • A man with a bald spot.
      A man with a bald spot.
    • Pregnant women may be more susceptible to iron deficiency and hair loss.
      By: LanaK
      Pregnant women may be more susceptible to iron deficiency and hair loss.
    • Women are more susceptible to anemia and iron deficiency related hair loss.
      By: Barabas Attila
      Women are more susceptible to anemia and iron deficiency related hair loss.
    • Red meat and other iron-rich foods can help to relieve iron deficiency.
      By: kazoka303030
      Red meat and other iron-rich foods can help to relieve iron deficiency.
    • Not all patients with iron deficiency and hair loss are anemic.
      By: diego cervo
      Not all patients with iron deficiency and hair loss are anemic.