First For Women

Alert! Thinning hair? LOW iron may be to blame


As many as three in four premenopau­sal women don’t get enough iron in their diet, and the resulting iron shortfall can cause a host of symptoms, including fatigue, weakness and, unexpected­ly, hair loss.

In fact, when scientists in Croatia compared healthy women of childbeari­ng age with and without hair loss, iron status was the only difference they could find: Levels of ferritin (a form of iron) were 73 percent higher in women with a full head of hair than in those with thinning hair. Without enough iron, blood cells are less able to transport oxygen throughout the body, which can cause hair loss, the study authors explain. It’s also possible that iron shortfalls may impede the function of an enzyme that stimulates hair follicle cell reproducti­on. “If you suspect you have an iron deficiency, ask your doctor for complete blood count, iron and ferritin tests,” advises Ronald Hoffman, M.D. If you’re falling short, getting more dietary iron or taking a supplement can help.

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