Does Anemia/Iron Deficiency Cause Hair Loss?

Pretty woman fixing her hair with a large tooth comb

Iron Deficiency Cause Hair Loss?Anemia is caused by severe iron deficiencies in the body, and it affects both men and women on different levels and for varying reasons. One of the main side effects or symptoms of a severe iron deficiency is thinning hair and hair loss. Oftentimes, hair loss caused by iron deficiency is mistaken for male-pattern baldness. Fortunately, there are many different iron deficiency hair loss treatments that can target and help to alleviate this issue.

Iron Deficiency Hair Loss Symptoms

Hair loss is just one of many symptoms of anemia. Aside from hair loss, signs of iron deficiency include: chronic fatigue; irritability or short temperedness; pica, which is the abnormal craving to chew on or eat something other than food (example: your hair); brittle or weak nails; brittle or weak hair; and high susceptibility to infections.
The reason these areas are so heavily and negatively affected by an iron deficiency in the body is because when they body absorbs iron, most of it is usually stored for use by more important organs, such as the heart or liver. Whatever amount is not stored goes to the less important skin, hair, and nail cells. Whenever there is a shortage or insufficient supply of iron in the system, the body takes the iron that is allocated for the less important cells and sends them to the heart, liver, kidneys, and other high-priority organs that are essential to survival. It is important to take hair loss as a serious possible sign or symptom of iron deficiency because it could signify deeper underlying health issues.

Causes of Iron Deficiency-Related Hair Loss

While people of any gender can suffer hair loss caused by anemia, women are generally more susceptible to it. Iron deficiencies occur when the body does not have a sufficient iron supply, which prevents it from producing hemoglobin within the bloodstream.

Hemoglobin is a vital component within red blood cells that transports oxygen and delivers it to various organs within the body. Iron is not naturally produced by the body; therefore, it must be consumed either in the foods we eat or through supplements. The leading causes of iron deficiency-related hair loss include heavy menstrual periods; pregnancy and breastfeeding after giving birth; suffering potentially fatal wounds; undergoing a surgical procedure; a diet that lacks sufficient iron intake (i.e. veganism and vegetarianism); donating blood often; and frequent nosebleeds.

Iron Deficiency Hair Loss Treatment

There are a few anemia hair loss treatment options available. The most common and effective way to facilitate hair re-growth caused by iron deficiency is to increase your intake of iron. The best way to do this is to eat more leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, as well as red meats, poultry, and dairy products, such as eggs, which are rich in iron and protein.

Under the advisory of your doctor, you can also start taking iron supplements as long as it will not interfere with your other medications nor affect your hormone levels. Anemia is just one of many possible causes of hair loss. If you are suddenly experiencing an abnormal amount of hair loss, you should consult your doctor or a trichologist so that they can work towards determining the root cause of the problem.

The Canadian Institute of Hair and Scalp Specialists has been in business for over 20 years; our specialists have extensive experience with hair transplants, replacements, and postpartum hair loss treatments. For a free consultation, please call us at (905) 272-0190 or toll-free at 1-800-563-3836.

by Ken Robson

In business since August 1, 1986, I am the president and also a client at The Canadian Institute of Hair & Scalp Specialists. Having worked with a team of Doctors and Chemists over the years I have compiled a great deal of knowledge in this area, originally involved with a Pharmaceutical company manufacturing vitamins for the hair loss industry. Years ago I was fascinated by the new developments in this area as my own hair was beginning to thin. Studying Trichology at the Toronto clinic I then opened my own office and have enjoyed it ever since.