Iron Deficiency Anemia and Hair Loss

Anemia and What Is Causes

Anemia is a widely known condition that is often caused by iron deficiency. However, this is not the only cause of anemia. Most people associate anemia with fatigue, weakness, and lightheadedness, but what most people do not realize, is the impact amenia can have on hair growth. Anemia is one of the most common causes of hair loss, plaguing both men and women alike. To understand the significance of anemia and its effects on hair loss, it is necessary to examine what iron deficiency anemia is. Also, the different types of anemia, the known causes of anemia, and how to counteract the effects of anemia to regrow your hair.

What Is Anemia?

Anemia occurs when your blood does not contain high enough concentration of red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. There are various forms of anemia, each with its own cause, Anemia can be long-term or temporary, and range from mild to severe.

Symptoms of Anemia

The first step in preventing the effects of anemia is to identify the conditions and symptoms. Below is a list of some of the most common symptoms of anemia. Symptoms vary based on the cause of the anemia.
  • Headaches
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Pale skin
  • Hair Loss
Although symptoms can start off as very subtle, anemia symptoms can progress and worsen and increase in severity, the worse the anemia gets.

Iron Deficiency Anemia

There are numerous causes of anemia, but the most common type of anemia caused due to iron deficiency. One of the many symptoms of iron deficiency anemia is hair loss. Iron deficiency anemia is a condition that occurs when a person does not have enough iron in their body, or their body cannot absorb iron properly. Bone marrow requires the presence of iron to produce the hemoglobin that is present in the red blood cells. Without enough iron, the human body is incapable of producing enough hemoglobin for the red blood cells. This can be an issue for overall health as well as hair health. However, iron deficiency anemia hair loss regrowth can be easily achieved by those suffering from it. You can usually correct iron deficiency anemia with iron supplementation and a high-iron diet.

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency anemia can be mild enough to go unnoticed. But as your body becomes more deficient in iron and anemia worsens, the signs and symptoms intensify. Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia signs and symptoms may include:
  • Extreme Fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Weakness
  • Chest pain, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath
  • A headache, dizziness, or being lightheaded
  • Inflammation or soreness of the tongue
  • Brittle nails
  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt, or starch
  • Poor appetite, more prominent in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia
  • Hair Loss
If you're not consuming enough iron, or if too much iron lost, your body can’t produce enough hemoglobin, and iron deficiency anemia will eventually develop.

Cause of Iron Deficiency Anemia

A lack of iron in your diet. Your body gets iron from the foods you consume. If you consume too little iron, over time your body can become iron deficient. Examples of iron-rich foods include:
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Leafy greens vegetables
  • Iron-fortified food
  • Seafood
  • Beans
  • Iron-fortified cereals, bread, and pasta
  • Peas
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots

Blood Loss

Blood contains iron within the red blood cells. Therefore, if you lose blood, you lose some iron as well. Women with heavy periods are at risk of iron deficiency anemia because of the blood loss during their menstruation.

Gastrointestinal Bleeding

Gastrointestinal bleeding can result from the use of some of the over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin.

Slow Chronic Blood Loss

Slow chronic blood loss within the body - such as peptic ulcer, hiatal hernia, colon polyp, or colorectal cancer, can cause iron deficiency anemia as well.

Inability to Absorb Iron

Iron from the food you consume absorbs into your bloodstream into your small intestine. An intestinal disorder, which affects your intestines, can lead to iron deficiency anemia. If your small intestine has been bypassed or surgically removed, it may affect your ability to absorb iron and other nutrients. Choose foods containing vitamin C to enhance iron absorption. You can improve your body’s absorption of iron by drinking citrus juice or eating other foods that a rich in vitamin C as well as eating your high-iron foods. High Vitamin C foods:
  • Broccoli
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Melons
  • Oranges
  • Peppers
  • Tangerines
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes


Iron deficiency anemia occurs in pregnant women because their iron stores need to serve their increased blood volume as well as be a source of hemoglobin for their growing fetus. This is why iron supplementation is necessary (prenatal).

Who’s At Risk?

These groups of people have increased the risk of iron deficiency anemia:


Because of the loss of blood during menstruation, women are generally at higher risk of iron deficiency.


Your body absorbs more iron from meat than it does from other sources. If you choose not to consume meat, increase your intake of iron-rich, plant-based food to absorb the same amount of iron.

How Iron Deficiencies Cause Hair Loss

When your body does not have enough iron to produce hemoglobin, a deficiency results and oxygen cannot transfer to the bodily cells for growth and repair including the cells that make up hair follicles.

Telogen Effluvium

Temporary hair loss such as iron deficiency hair loss is called telogen effluvium. The average person loses about 100 hairs per day. However, in a healthy individual, the majority of the strands are still growing. Telogen Effluvium is a condition where more hair enters a resting period known as the telogen phase. Meaning that the existing hairs stop growing before they fall out. Someone who has Telogen Effluvium may lose 300 hairs per day instead of 100 hairs per day. Telogen Effluvium is usually temporary when addressed promptly.


Ferritin is the name given to the amount of iron we have stored in our bodies. It is in many places including our hair follicles. When your body is running low on iron, it steals ferritin that is in less essential parts of the body which includes, of course, your hair follicles. Levels are normal when each hair has about five years of growth before falling out and being replaced. When ferritin levels are low, and your body needs to borrow from your hair follicles, the life cycle is much shorter. Low levels of ferritin do not cause hair to stop growing; it just does not grow as much.

Tips & Tricks to Prevent Iron Deficiency Hair Loss

If you are diagnosed with iron deficiency and are experiencing hair loss, eat more iron-rich foods and take a dietary supplement with iron. An easier way to get more iron and vitamin C in your diet plus added hair growth is by selecting a supplement that has iron plus healthy hair nutrients, such as biotin, zinc, or marine extracts. The healthier the nutrients you consume, the healthier your hair will be.

Taking On Hair Loss!

When addressing iron deficiency hair loss, remember that unlike skin, it takes several months before the adverse effects of hair loss subside. To manage your iron deficiency hair loss, eat properly and take the recommended supplement and dosage your doctor prescribes. Your consistency and diligence will pay off in a few short months! May your best hair days be ahead of you!

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