Does Iron Deficiency Affect Hair Growth?

The growth and loss of hair can depend on a number of factors. One of the factors is iron deficiency: Iron is also needed for hair as it contributes to haemoglobin synthesis. Balancing the right amount of iron by following a balanced diet or through supplements is very helpful to control the high level of hair fall.

What is iron?

Iron is an element that is used in compounds that are useful to all living things. It is essential to a number of metabolic functions such as oxygen transport, DNA synthesis and electron transport. 

Role of iron in hair growth

The following stages of the hair growth cycle illustrate the crucial importance of iron for hair growth  


  • Oxygen delivery to hair follicles

Haemoglobin is a protein that occurs in the red blood cells. It is crucial to supply oxygen to the entire body including the organs and the hair follicles. It requires oxygen for the metabolic processes which are associated with hair growth. 


  • Cell division and proliferation

Iron also takes part in the production of DNA that is essential for cell division and multiplication. Iron is useful in the synthesis of new cells in the growth stage. 


  • Prevention of hair loss

Telogen effluvium – this is a condition where there is an early entry of a large percentage of hair follicles into the resting phase thereby causing increased hair fall. This condition is due to iron deficiency. Iron deficiency may be corrected and telogen phase avoided.


  • Hair structure and health

Iron helps in strengthening as well as flexibility. Iron deficiency causes texture change of the hair as it makes hair more dry and brittle.


What is ferritin?

Ferritin is one of the proteins that are present in the body and it is essential in the regulation and storage of iron. It acts like an iron storage protein, helping to maintain the iron status of the body.

Ferritin is predominantly stored in cells, especially those in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow.

Ferritin helps in the release of iron to the blood where it is required for the use of different tissues and organs of the body. Low values may be a sign of iron deficiency while high values have been seen to be linked with conditions such as hemochromatosis that causes increased absorption of iron.

The relevance of ferritin to hair health is found in its role in iron supply. It is needed for normal hair production and management. Even low levels of ferritin may lead to hair issues such as loss of hair and hair thinning. The most common method for assessing an individual’s iron stockpile is a blood test for ferritin.


What is the role of ferritin in hair loss? 

Ferritin is needed for the growth of hair since ferritin is used in the metabolism associated with the development of hair and hair follicles.

Ferritin is a protein needed for the transport of iron, an essential element for providing oxygen to cells, including those found in hair follicles. Oxygen is essential in order to perform the metabolic processes associated with the process of hair growth.

Iron is used in the production of Keratin; Keratin is a protein that makes up the structure of hair. It also takes care of the health of the hair follicles themselves to make sure they can grow healthy hair strands.

Hair has three phases of growth which are anagen (active), catagen (regression), and telogen (quiescent). This cycle can be stopped with an iron deficit which may lead to increased shedding or slower growth.

Low ferritin levels have been associated with this disorder known as telogen effluvium which leads to hair shedding. It can help to reduce the risk of hair loss due to the overproduction of ferritin.

An iron deficiency can also affect the hair as it becomes fragile and lifeless. Healthy and shiny hair also depended on the right ferritin levels.


How to improve our iron levels through food?

Food sources of iron include – 

  • Red meat
  • Poultry 
  • Fish
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Tofu
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Fortified cereals


Recommended Dietary Allowance for men is 19 mg/day and women is 29 mg/day.

It is not recommended to treat low ferritin levels on your own. It is best to get help from a healthcare professional to detect the cause and the right treatment plan based on individual needs. They can recommend taking iron supplements, changing their diet, and monitoring the changes to confirm that ferritin levels are being restored to normal.


Kripa N,
Senior Clinical Dietitian, Simplyweight

The London Obesity & Endocrine Clinic specialises in Weight Loss and Endocrine disorders at the Specialist Weight Loss Centre in Chennai, India. We offer face to face and virtual consultations with our specialist clinical lead, Dr Rajeswaran, who has 25+ years experience in this field. We support people with Obesity related medical conditions including Type 2 Diabetes, Fatty Liver, Infertility, Erectile Dysfunction, and Endocrine disorders like Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, PCOD, Hirsutism, Adrenal Dysfunction, Menopause, Pituitary problems and Sexual Dysfunction. Our services predominantly cover major cities in India including New Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and Pune. We also offer aesthetic treatments including but not limited to: lymphatic drainage, deep tissue massage, Hydrafacial for treating skin conditions such as acne, sun damage and to help brighten the skin, CM Slim for muscle building and fat reduction, LED light therapy (including red light therapy) and much more. In addition,  we offer health checkups such as our Metabolic Master Health Checkup, diabetes health checkups, genetic testing and VO₂ Max testing for fitness and cardiorespiratory health. All of our aesthetics treatments and Bespoke Weight Management Plans are non-surgical solutions for weight loss and wellness. We have newly launched a Bespoke Wedding Weight Loss & Aesthetics Plan for brides & grooms to be. Get in touch to transform your life!

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