Could my hair loss be from iron deficiency?

I have been experiencing some hair loss. Though I am not yet in full panic mode, if it continues, I will be. I'm 44 and fortunately have had no serious health problems (knock wood) but lately there is no doubt about it I am losing hair. I became a vegetarian two years ago for health reasons and because my perimenopause has begun and I know that soy protein can be beneficial. Last year I tried to donate blood but was told that I didn't have enough iron to spare so I was turned down. That didn't mean I was anemic but it does suggest a problem. Could it be an iron deficiency that is causing my hair loss? I have taken iron supplements in the past and had to stop because my stomach was aching and I felt off. What else could I do to stop the hair loss from getting worse? Also, are there treatments available to help restore what I have lost?


F, 47, California

Tags:woman age 45-54 balding hair loss

Yes, it’s possible that iron deficiency could be to blame for your hair loss, as a lack of iron affects your body’s ability to produce hemoglobin. Found in red blood cells, hemoglobin is comprised of complex proteins that carry oxygen throughout the body and play a key role in hair growth.

However, low iron is just one possible explanation for thinning hair. I strongly recommend booking an appointment with a doctor and getting some blood tests done to pinpoint the issue.

In the event that it is iron deficiency-related hair loss, the good news is that the effects are usually not permanent. Taking a simple iron supplement can help boost your iron levels and repair the underlying issue.

You mentioned you experienced some discomfort when taking iron supplements in the past. Do you recall which type you used? There are a few different types of iron supplements, including ferrous sulfate, ferrous gluconate, and ferrous fumarate, which all contain a different quantity of iron.

You may find that your body responds more favorably to one of these supplements than the others. Taking an iron supplement with a small amount of food can also help reduce side effects. Alternatively, your doctor may recommend a liquid or intravenous iron supplement to, hopefully, eliminate or ease stomach discomfort.

There are a number of things you can do beyond iron supplements to minimize hair loss. Eating a healthy diet that includes iron-rich foods (such as leafy greens and lean proteins) can help raise iron levels, while incorporating more Vitamin C into your diet can assist your body in absorbing iron more efficiently.

Avoid using hair dyes, blow dryers, and curling irons, as they can damage healthy hair and may result in even more hair loss. Depending on your needs, your doctor may recommend using Minoxidil (Rogaine) to treat female pattern hair loss and stimulate hair regrowth.

I think the first step is to consult a doctor and, perhaps, a dietician as well, to rule out any nutritional deficiency.

Venofur Iron IV if you cannot tolerate oral iron. 

Having a low iron level and being turned down for blood donation - you should see your primary care physician - have a history, medical exam and blood testing.

I recommend seeing a dietician and go over your diet and vitamin levels. Sometimes woman's hair loss is also genetic but there may be ways to help. Good Luck