Our diet has a huge influence over our health, with good, balanced nutrition helping to maintain the normal functioning of everything from heart health to hair growth.
The reason for this is that when there is an underlying illness, the body prioritises its resources in order to protect the organs responsible for its critical functions, such as the heart and lungs. As a result, those functions considered non-vital - including hair growth - can be disrupted.
When the hair cycle is disrupted in this way it can result in a temporary hair loss condition which causes shedding from all over the scalp, with around 30 per cent of the hair being lost up to three months after it has been triggered. This is called Telogen Effluvium or, in its more intense form, Diffuse Thinning, which is also known as Chronic Telogen Effluvium.
One of the most common deficiencies linked to thinning hair, particularly in women, is iron deficiency, with the World Health Organisation estimating this affects approximately 25 per cent of the global population.
Besides hairloss, here are 10 common symptoms of iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anaemia you can look out for, though it is worth noting that some people may not display any signs, even in severe cases:
1 Tiredness - a general sense of lethargy and fatigue;
2 Shortness of breath - also known as dyspnoea;
3 Heart palpitations - being aware of your heart beating;
4 Pallid complexion - your skin may look paler than usual even in mild cases of anaemia;
5 Headaches and/or dizziness - vertigo is a common symptom;
6 Dry skin and hair - skin may start to feel rough; hair may become brittle and prone to hair breakage;
7 Atrophic glossitis - this is characterised by the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence as a smooth, glossy tongue which may also be painful;
9 Brain fog' - cognitive dysfunction such as memory problems;
10 Restless leg syndrome - this is a neurological disorder which compels a person to constantly move their legs and often causes sleep disorders as a result.
Another symptom worth mentioning, although it is considered to be 'less common', is koilonychia. This presents as brittle, spoon-shaped fingernails and, is pertinent when discussing iron-related hairloss as the hair and nails have a lot in common. Iron deficiency anaemia can affect the growth cycle of each, they are made from the same protein - keratin - and are both part of the integumentary system.
Iron-deficiency anaemia can be detected via a simple blood test and treated using high strength iron supplements as well as by eating more iron-rich foods. Usually a higher percentage of iron is absorbed from animal-based foods than is from vegetable sources, but of course it’s important to consume both.
It is especially important that vegans and vegetarians monitor their iron intake; whilst they are more likely to be deficient, there are plenty of plant-based options that are high in iron, including dark leafy greens.
Whilst normal hair regrowth should resume naturally within around six months, there are also Telogen Effluvium treatment courses available to help accelerate this process.
If you are experiencing excessive shedding and are worried your hair loss may be related to low iron levels, it is advisable to visit your GP as a first port of call. You can request a blood test and bring your results along to a consultation with a hair specialist. They can then recommend the most appropriate course of hair loss solutions based on these results, your general medical profile and the findings from their assessment of your scalp.
Whilst temporary hair loss conditions are just that, for both men and women with an underlying genetic predisposition to Male Pattern Baldness or Female Pattern Hair Loss, these can be prematurely triggered, or exacerbated where there was already an existing case of genetic hair loss. Should this be the case, a considered hair loss treatment course can be tailored taking into account both conditions simultaneously.
The Belgravia Centre is a world-renowned group of a hair loss clinic in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation from anywhere in the world for home-use treatment.
View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world's largest gallery of hair growth photos and demonstrates the level of success that so many of Belgravia's patients achieve.