Losing your hair at any rate can be frightening, especially if you can’t seem to get to the bottom of it. While you might have heard about tight hairstyles, genetics and extreme stress being among the most common causes for hair loss, there are also many other underlying reasons you might not know about — such as having low ferritin levels.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, ferritin is a protein in your body that stores iron. Research has provided much evidence that having too much or too little iron levels may have a direct correlation to hair loss. Below, we break down more of what ferritin is and how it can affect your hair.
What Is Ferritin?
The Cleveland Clinic states that ferritin is a protein in your body that stores iron and releases it in a controlled fashion. Iron is an essential mineral that contributes to good health. It helps prevent anemia — a condition in which one lacks a normal amount of red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body's tissues — and increase resistance to infection. Having too little can lead to iron deficiency, says the Mayo Clinic, while having too much can indicate another problem.
How much iron one needs depends on their gender and age, states the Cleveland Clinic. For instance, if you’re a female in your 30s, the recommended daily dosage is 18 milligrams. But if you’re a male in your 30s, you only need 8 milligrams of iron every day. To find out the exact iron you need, it’s best to consult a physician on the proper amount.
How Does Ferritin Affect Hair?
Experiencing hair loss can be a side effect of having low iron levels. When your body doesn’t get a sufficient amount, says the American Academy of Dermatology, it makes your hair fall out more. But according to the Cleveland Clinic, consuming too much iron can also lead to an increase in body hair loss.
How Do I Know If I Have Low Ferritin Levels?
Before you jump to conclusions and begin diagnosing yourself, it’s important to speak to a professional — such as a board-certified dermatologist or licensed trichologist who specializes in hair and scalp — if you’re experiencing hair loss, recommends celebrity hairstylist and L’Oréal Paris expert Jonathan Colombini. “If this is something of a concern to any client, due to its human complexity, I would always advise seeing a doctor,” he says.
If your physician suspects you may have too much or too little iron in your body, he or she might perform a ferritin test, which measures the amount of ferritin in your blood, says the Mayo Clinic. This is usually done by blood test. For men, the normal range of ferritin is between 24 and 336 micrograms per liter, while for women, it's 11 to 307 micrograms per liter.
Ferritin And Hair Loss Treatment
The good news is that hair loss caused by an iron deficiency can be treatable. A great way to up your intake is by eating foods that are rich in iron. Good sources of iron include lean meats and plant-based foods, such as lentils, beans, spinach and nuts. You can also take iron supplements as part of your daily diet — just be sure to speak with your doctor about all of this first.
If your ferritin level results are higher than usual, your doctor might need to run further tests to rule out any serious health conditions.
Written by: Sophie Dweck, Photo Credit: Chaunte Vaughn
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