The possibility of losing more hair due to iron deficiencies is certainly a plausible one. However, taking supplements to restore hair may help some people to a certain degree. There are many factors that contribute to unwanted loss. Therefore, the focus on iron intake alone should not be considered a universal hair restoration strategy, according to Dr. U.
Iron and Hair Health
Iron is an important mineral for the body. It is used to create a molecule called hemoglobin which transports oxygen to our cells, including those that make up the hair follicles. In fact, these structures rely heavily on the abundant availability of oxygen. This is important for normal functions needed to produce hair shafts.
However, it is reasonable to expect that lower levels of iron in the blood will undermine the supply of oxygen to the hair follicles. And logically speaking, this would have a negative impact on these structures.
Changes in the body’s normal state of equilibrium typically creates a state of stress. And hair follicles often react to this by entering the telogen resting phase. This is when the hair stops growing and eventually sheds about 3-4 months later.
Iron deficiencies can certainly contribute to a state of physiological imbalance that leads to hair loss.
What the Experts Say
Currently there is not enough research which supports a clear relationship between low levels of iron and hair loss. Dr. U often educates individuals on the fact that there are many variables that contribute to this condition. And these factors can influence individual cases to varying degrees.
Large scale research studies require significant organization as well as funding. Therefore, it is not always practical to wait until formal studies are performed in order to address conditions.
Not all medical experts believe that iron contributes to hair loss since there are quite a few studies which show that there is no relationship.
Yet there are many who feel that it is a variable which deserves consideration. Here are a few examples:
(1) George Cotserelis of the University of Pennsylvania
According to Dr. Cotserelis, replenishing iron supplies in the body can help patients slow down the rate of shedding or even restore their hair. This would largely depend on how strongly the iron deficiency has affected the follicles for a particular individual
(2) Leonid Benjamin Trost MD, Ellen Calogeras RD, MPH, Wilma Bergfield MD
These medical experts addressed the possible link between iron and hair loss in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Based on their experience and review of past research, they believe that iron plays a much bigger role in hair health and restoration than is realized by the medical community.
Even if low iron is not a direct cause, this state can actually worsen a person’s hair loss condition.
Iron and Hair Restoration
Replenishing the body’s iron supply is an undertaking that should be done carefully. According to Dr. U, the safest way to add more of this mineral is by consuming natural food sources like dark leafy greens, for example.
Taking supplements should be done under the guidance of a physician. The recommended dosages listed on over the counter products may or may not be suitable for a particular individual. A doctor would be able to determine safe and appropriate limits.
Dr. Sanusi Umar is a pioneer in hair transplant surgery and is widely published and recognized in his field. Dr. Umar is certified by the American Board of Dermatology and the founder of DermHair Clinic in Los Angeles, CA.