If you’ve used everything under the sun to improve the length or thickness of your hair but nothing has been effective, you may be iron deficient.
This post is not intended to diagnose any illness. Please seek advice from a medical professional.
Iron is a crucial mineral important to all of the cells in our bodies. Having an iron deficiency causes anemia which, in turn, causes unshakable fatigue, shortness of breath, headaches, random dizziness and thinning hair/hair loss.
According to online sources, hair follicles which don’t receive enough oxygen go into “a resting stage” where “hair falls out and doesn’t grow back until anemia is improved” (checkthesenews.com). Iron “carries oxygen from the lungs throughout the body” (medicinenet.com) which would explain the lack of oxygen at the hair follicles if you are anemic.
Anemia can cause fatigue when doing regular things regardless of your weight. It can also cause unexplained weight loss or issues with your body’s ability to fight off infections.
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If you’re more ill for longer periods of time, you may be anemic. Do you notice your heart beating faster even when in a resting state? Do you crave things like rice or potatoes (potato chips, french fries etc) or other foods known to be high in iron?
Do you catch colds very easily but you don’t know why? Have you ever had chest congestion for a much longer period than you should, without having any major issues like flu or tuberculosis? Do you feel colder than other people do while in the same room?
The lack of iron causes a problem with the body’s immune system, which in turn makes our bodies more susceptible to viruses and bacteria. Both red and white blood cells are a very necessary part of keeping us healthy. They are the bad-a$$ soldiers — as part of the Innate and Adaptive systems — which are responsible for keeping out as many ‘nasties’ as possible.
Are you having issues with the strength of your teeth (ie. do you notice yourself being more prone to cavities and tooth issues when your tooth care routine hasn’t changed)?
Anemia puts you at an increased risk for gum disease and inflammation of the tongue (deltadental.com).
In addition to the above, getting headaches for no reason, random dizziness (maybe not enough to faint), and unexplained tiredness while doing simple things (like cleaning) are all signs of anemia.
__But… but… what about my hair tho? __
All of this to say, if you’ve been taking care of your hair but you notice more “shedding” — despite the method or the products you’re using — you might be anemic.
For example, if you’re routinely doing protein or clay treatments (Alma, Bentonite, etc), but your hair still seems to be “shedding” too much, you might be anemic.
In black women, a major cause of anemia is heavy or extended menstruation which itself can be caused by fibroids. Because of socio-economic factors and unknown biological reasons, black and hispanic women have higher instances of this problem.
Fibroids are “noncancerous tumors that grow on or in the muscle of the uterus” (ask4ufe.com). Reportedly, African-American women are 3 times more likely to have to deal with this biological foolishness.
According to BET, there was study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology which “linked hair relaxers to uterine fibroids” (BET). But just because you haven’t used relaxers in years doesn’t mean there aren’t lingering effects on the body.
There is a correlation to the usage of relaxers to fibroids. However, correlation is not causation, and the study falls short of outright blaming relaxers for the increased incidences of fibroids in black women.
Why does this matter? Let me condense everything you’ve just read:
Fibroids cause extended and heavy blood loss each month. Extended or heavy blood loss can cause iron deficiency. Iron is necessary to carry oxygen to all parts of your body, including your hair follicles. An iron deficiency can cause, among other things, hair thinning and hair loss.
So, if you are doing ‘all the right things’ but your hair is still “shedding too much,” or “doesn’t like anything”, or “isn’t growing past my ear” (all things I’ve heard from you guys), you may want to get your iron levels checked.
Whether you go to a clinic or the emergency room, there are people who can help diagnose this.
Tell the doctor or nurse practitioner to “run a CBC” (complete blood count) to check if you are anemic. They will take a blood sample to check the “hemoglobin”. Hemoglobin is the “iron-rich protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body” (NIH.gov). If you’re anemic, they’ll be able to tell you.
If your iron levels are low, it may explain (among other things) why your hair looks thin; or doesn’t seem to be growing anymore even though you’re taking care of it; or is shedding more than normal even though you aren’t doing anything differently.
Sometimes it’s not the products you’re using. It’s an internal issue.
BUT WAIT! If you’ve been diagnosed with anemia, you can’t just take an iron pill and call it a day! Iron needs other vitamins to correctly process itself in the body. You not only need iron, but also Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps “improve the absorption of iron from the stomach” (WebMD). If your deficiency is caused by prolonged menstruation, the addition of B12 and folic acid can help.
There’s a special combination of these vitamins found in two medications: “ICAR-C” and “ICAR-C Plus”. The “Plus” version has additional B12 and Folic acid in it.
We’re not talking about a regular dosage of iron found in over-the-counter supplements either. The iron in ICAR-C and ICAR-C Plus is 100 mg. Here’s what they contain:
Iron (as carbonyl) – 100 mg
Vitamin C- 250 mg
Iron (as carbonyl) – 100 mg
Vitamin C- 250 mg
B12 – 25 mcg (that’s not a typo)
Folic acid – 1 mg
In contrast, over-the-counter iron supplements have anywhere from 18mg to 65mg. Attention must be paid to the dosage because the amount of iron needed to fight anemia can’t always be found in your average OTC iron pill. The additional Vitamin C is a must for the iron to do what it needs to do in your body.
Some teas can cause iron to be depleted so you may want to discontinue the usage of tea internally until you’re sure the problem isn’t linked to anemia (healthcommunities.com).
We all love to blame products — and there are some pretty crappy products out there! But when your hair seems to be getting thinner every time you detangle, you might want to make sure anemia isn’t the problem.