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Originally published July 17 2006

Hair Loss May Be linked to Iron Deficiency, Cleveland Clinic Experts Report (press release)

by NaturalNews

A team of Cleveland Clinic experts is reporting that the treatment of iron deficiency, through diet or supplements, may help regrow hair.

Led by Wilma Bergfeld, M.D., Head of Clinical Research in the Department of Dermatology at the Clinic, the researchers reviewed the scientific literature that has been published over the past 40 years. Their findings show that iron deficiency may be more closely linked to hair loss than previously thought.

The researchers’ findings appear in the May issue of Journal of American Academy of Dermatology and underline the importance of better understanding the potential association between these conditions.

“If doctors can understand fully the relationship between iron deficiency and hair loss, then they can help people regrow hair more effectively,” Dr. Bergfeld, who is Past President of the American Academy of Dermatology and Co-Founder of the North American Hair Research Society, said. “We believe that iron deficiency may be related to many forms of hair loss and that people may need higher levels of iron stores than previously thought to regrow hair.”

Much of what is known about the relationship between iron deficiency and hair loss is based on studies involving women. Although the data suggests that iron deficiency may be linked to several of the most common kinds of hair loss, there is insufficient evidence to recommend universal screening for iron deficiency in hair loss patients, the Clinic researchers report. Further research on this subject is necessary.

Even so, physicians at the Cleveland Clinic routinely screen patients with hair loss for iron deficiency. A laboratory test called ferritin is often very sensitive for iron deficiency and can detect it in its early stages. If this early form of iron deficiency is treated, then patients may be able to regrow hair more effectively.

Doctors often do not treat this subtle form of iron deficiency and reserve treatment only for its most severe form, called iron deficiency anemia.

Iron supplements, which are available over-the-counter, can be very effective in treating hair loss, but they are not for everyone. In fact, they can be dangerous in patients with certain medical conditions and should only be taken under the supervision of a physician.

Iron deficiency is the world’s most common nutritional deficiency and is can be caused by inadequate dietary intake, excessive menstrual bleeding, and other forms of blood loss. Treatment of iron deficiency includes adequate dietary intake and, when appropriate, oral iron supplementation.

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