If I'm Low on Iron, Can I Lose my Hair?
The Chemical Element: Iron
Iron, a chemical element, is represented by the symbol Fe, at atomic number 26. It is believed that iron is the sixth most abundant element in the entire universe, while it is a common element on Earth.
The Importance of Iron in Your Body
Iron is an essential mineral that must be consumed within the diet in small amounts. Iron is commonly utilized by the body for the transportation of oxygen and in many metabolic functions.
Approximately 70% of all the iron within your body is located in hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a particular protein within red blood cells. Hemoglobin is responsible for the binding and transportation of oxygen to all tissues of the body. This process is not possible without the presence of iron.
There are also small amounts of iron located to another protein known as myoglobin, another type of red blood cell, responsible for the transportation of oxygen to muscle cells. Approximately another 15% of iron within your body is stored for later use during periods of deficiency when dietary intake may be inadequate. The remainder of iron in the body is used within various bodily tissues as part of specific proteins that aid in the overall daily function of your body.
Iron Deficiency and Hair Loss
The connecting associations of hair loss with iron deficiency are still a controversial issue. Preliminary studies have not connected iron deficiency as a cause of hair loss, but instead have shown that hair loss is sufficiently enhanced by the presence of an iron deficiency. However, this remains a controversy, and requires more research to confirm the actual connections of hair loss and iron. The preliminary study did show that the correction of iron deficiencies in patients was strongly correlated with hair re-growth and hindering of further hair loss.
Dietary Sources of Iron
There are many foods that are rich in iron content. Iron is also available in many dietary supplements, most commonly noted as iron (II) fumarate or iron sulfate. Both are naturally absorbed with equal efficiency by the body.
- Black-eyed peas
- Leaf vegetables
- Potatoes (with skin)
- Red meat
- Whole grain bread
Iron: The Recommended Dietary Allowance
The recommended dietary allowance, known as RDA, is the amount of a certain nutrient or mineral that must be consumed through the diet that is sufficient in meeting the nutrition requirements of healthy individuals. The recommended dietary allowance for iron varies based on age and gender. Adult males should consume 8mg per day of iron, while adult women require more than twice that, 18mg daily. It should be noted that pregnant women require 27mg of iron per day.
Hair Loss, Iron Deficiency, and You
While the connections between hair loss and iron deficiency have yet to be scientifically confirmed, there are strong associations that currently exist. If you believe than an iron deficiency is contributing to or causing your hair loss, discuss this with your physician.