Many aging women suffer with hair loss, which can take a real toll on our confidence and self-esteem. But as we already know, everything we put into our bodies matters — and this is especially true for hair health. There are specific nutrients your body needs to protect the hair you already have and encourage the growth of new hair, and one of those nutrients is iron.
Iron deficiency and hair loss
Iron is a mineral that’s essential for an array of bodily functions, mainly producing hemoglobin in your red blood cells. Hemoglobin carries oxygen which encourages the repair and growth of cells in your body, including those that stimulate hair growth. However, it’s fairly common for people (especially women) to become iron deficient, and studies have concluded that this can cause hair loss. One study found that not only did iron deficiency play a role in hair loss, but it could produce a similar thinning effect to that of genetic pattern baldness.
When it comes to hair loss from iron deficiency, it can look pretty similar to male or female pattern baldness with thinning at the crown of the head, along the hairline, or along the part in your hair. Besides hair loss, according to the Mayo Clinic, other signs of iron deficiency include:
- Chronic tiredness and fatigue
- Muscle and bone weakness
- Pale skin
- Chest pain, fast heartbeat, or shortness of breath
- Headache, dizziness, or lightheadedness
- Cold hands and feet
- Inflammation or soreness of the tongue
- Brittle or weak nails
- Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice or starch
How to treat iron deficiency hair loss
The good news is, you can easily treat iron deficiency hair loss at home or with the help of your healthcare provider. If you suspect that an iron deficiency is causing your hair to fall out, consult your doctor and they will be able to administer a blood test to check your iron levels. If your levels turn up low, they can then prescribe high-potency iron supplements or recommend an OTC iron supplement for you to use.
If you’re already aware that you have an iron deficiency or you’ve had a history of this condition, it may be time to up your intake of iron-rich foods or take an iron supplement. Foods rich in iron include spinach, broccoli, legumes like lentils and chickpeas, organ meats like liver, shellfish, pumpkin seeds, turkey, red meat, tofu, and dark chocolate. The best part is, adding these foods to your diet will give your body a healthy boost whether you’re trying to regrow your hair or not!