Hair Shedding, Iron Deficiency & What Blood Tests to Ask For
- Published on: 21 January, 2018
- Last update: 03 November, 2020
LET’S TALK ABOUT HAIR SHEDDING, IRON DEFICIENCY & THE BLOOD TESTS THAT CATCH IT…
I’ve been receiving so many questions from women who notice their hair is thinning or falling out more than usual. One of the most common causes of excessive shedding is iron deficiency.
When you don’t have enough iron, your body can’t produce the hemoglobin in your blood. Hemoglobin carries oxygen for the growth and repair of cells in your body, including the cells that stimulate hair growth.
I recently switched to an integrative/functional MD so that I can get my check-ups and blood work done by someone who truly knows what to look for (and interprets beyond the acceptable lab ranges that haven’t been reviewed or amended in ages!) I mentioned that as I get deeper into my 20s, I notice my hair coming out in the shower more than I’d like.
Rather than only ordering a ferritin test, he ordered Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC), Serum Iron, and (ding ding ding) Transferrin Saturation. While the rest of my numbers were perfect, my saturation was at 15%, even though I eat plenty of iron rich foods. Saturations of less than 20% indicate an iron deficiency.
If you’d like an example of how this can present in other ways, there is a study available on PubMed which looked at a 58-year old woman suffering from restless legs syndrome (RLS) for 12 years. Her ferritin and serum iron levels were perfect, but her transferrin saturation was a mere 9%. Six weeks after supplementing with iron 2x a day, her decade-long struggle with RLS improved immensely with compete resolution of daytime symptoms.
The time-released iron by Douglas Labs shown above was given to me by my doctor (no affiliation). I’ve been on it for 2 months now, and I notice far less shedding, reduced scalp tenderness, and thicker hair/eyelashes which was an unexpected bonus.
If you’re suffering from hair loss, ask your doctor for a full iron panel including transferrin saturation. If any only if your blood tests show a deficiency, get a high quality supplement (like the one I linked) that your body can absorb! Iron is not something you want to supplement blindly, so always talk to your doctor first.