Iron-Deficiency and Its BAD Effect On Hair.

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  • 1 Post By Ethereal
  • 1 Post By Ladyland
  • 1 Post By Ondulee

Something was not right with me as of the spring. I just knew it: my muscles were fatiguing easily (even so much as folding the laundry was exhausting the muscles in my arms and I work out and am fit) I was not sleeping well, was cold much of the time and my hair felt just a little 'off' in texture and I was getting a few grey strands at my temple.

So I went to the doctor in May but my usual one, was on holiday. My own doctor is quite thorough and I wish I had just waited until she had returned because the one I did see, chalked it up to being, 'just stress'. Thus, she dismissed my request to have blood work done (since it had not been 'quite year' when I last had it done). I wish I had pushed for it then because as of late summer, things just got progressively worse for me.

The fatigue increased, I developed a 'brain fog' which has decreased my abilities as a writer (which I am by trade) I noticed my immunity was at an ebb, my appetite became nil (NOT helping matters, of course, but exacerbating them) my periods became lighter and my moods more erratic. Then there was my hair--IS my hair: as of August, thinner-feeling strands, breaking like mad, dry-as-a-bone and while I have natural auburn highlights in my dark brown hair, I noticed these had oddly increased whereas my hair care routine had not so much.

I have to admit that I am not sure how much faith I put into the whole 'protein-moisture' balance because who the heck ever worried about that as a kid? Most shampoos and conditioners contain proteins and moisturizers. I believe that I probably rarely--if ever--used products without protein in my life as a result and I always had gorgeous hair. I talked to a hairdresser friend of mine who dismisses the whole 'protein-sensitive' belief system. I think protein (usually) is more of an issue for those who have chemically-processed hair and are using these hard treatments more often to replace what was lost through their hair being processed to begin with. I have virgin hair and have for well over 20 years. My hairdresser friend urged me to get my butt back to the doctor and to see MY doctor this time. While I waited for my appointment, I omitted protein from my hair care routine and frankly, it seemed to help at first but ultimately, no.

So...My doctor was alarmed by my symptoms and ordered bloods right away. We found I was very low on iron--but not enough to be called, 'anemic'. I sure as hell have the symptoms though, but she stated I could have symptoms of anemia without being low enough to be deemed such (technically).

I do know how it happened. 17 years of veganism and through a bout of orthorexia/anorexia and pregnancy/nursing, I have never had this happen--or any other nutritional deficiency. But I became severely depressed due to personal conflicts in my life, began to eat a sparse diet and ironically, a nutritionist suggested I quit and/or reduce taking green drinks, a health shake of mine as well as a couple of my other supplements. I really wish I had not listened to her. I do not 'live' on supplements by any means, but I do rely on a few and obviously, they have served me well for years and years now.

So now I am minding my 'p's and q's' and am on 600 mg. of iron per day for 3 months until I am to be re-tested and then my doctor and I are going to take it from there.

But my hair...What am I to do? I read it is usually the first to show signs of iron-deficiency and the last to recover and that it can take months. I am not sure it has months. It is about to my waistline and I really do not want to have to cut it ALL off. I read a very insightful article on lack of iron and how it can affect the hair (even imparting a red-brown hue to dark hair). I have got white dots on the ends of so many of my strands. I am not sure if I should trim it just yet, or wait till if/when this nutritional catastrophe is over as I recently cut off three inches before my hair went kaput over the past couple of months.

How do I keep it moister and stronger by external means while I heal the internal cause? I have been washing it only twice a week, finger-combing it (I only brush it gently just to smooth it over at the end), I have been deep conditioning it weekly, using a rinse-out conditioner after I shampoo and sometimes a leave-in and a sealant of argan or olive oil. I have not 'styled' my hair since I was a teenager and certainly with no heat styling tools either! But I do know, yes, one can 'overcondition'. I did that once and it sucked but was fixed quickly. I worry by putting so much moisture into it due to what I thought was 'just protein overload,' I have made it weaker. I worry that I am going to mess up my hair so that once my iron stores are enough to return it to its normal conformity and moisture level--I will have messed it up anyway by external means.

I think it may need protein again--just in a shampoo and a rinse-out. I also went off panthenol which I feels is essential to patching up some of this damage I have got from being 'malnourished'. I have, however, phased out, 'denatured alcohol' for good, having departed company with my 15 year-long love affair with, "Aubrey Organics". Am looking to this, "Alchemy" line now and am soon to make a purchase.

I hope I did not piss off anyone with my comments on protein above. I actually think I may have over-proteined my hair a couple of months ago but in my case, I am not sure it would have happened if my hair had not already been affected by the lack of iron in my system. My hair has always worshipped protein. I still wonder if it is/was a factor at all (since using a sample of, "Aubrey's GPB"--my hair got crunchy and fused together in a section). But I have been moisturizing my hair diligently, avoiding protein for 2 months and my hair is only superficially softer. If I do NOTHING to it, it gets thinner feeling, even more brittle and like parchment paper. Ultimately, it must be because of the iron-deficiency I know.

Gosh, just writing this post has winded me! I hate having to curtail my writing of late (overall) but in regard to this post, it is overdue for it. This 'illness' is certainly going to affect my career! I have even been falling asleep mid-pilates mat workout, it has gotten so bad.

Finally, another question? Anyone anemic and/or iron-deficient? How long did it take for your hair to recuperate? Was it really the last to recover among all other physical issues?

Thanks and love to you all! Brightest blessings too!

P.S. Sorry I ramble on...and on. Thanks to whomever reads this and/or responds!
curlypearl likes this.

Last edited by Ethereal; 10-19-2013 at 04:13 AM.
Honey I'm so sorry u had all of this. I was severely anemic for a while due to fibroids and heavy....I mean HEAVY periods....CONSTANTLY for about 4-5 months. I took a daily iron supplement. I was freezing and exhausted all the time, I lost tons of weight and I really thought I was friggin dying. My skin was awful. I had a hysterectomy which stopped all that and I'm not anemic anymore. I didn't really feel like my hair was thinning that much around then but my hair dresser said I could feel the effects on my hair maybe after this trauma was over. It did seem a little dull...and flatter while I had my issues. I really babied it. My surgery was in January and most of it is getting thicker now.

Come to think of it even before the constant bleeding...I still had insanely heavy periods monthly for years, I thought, due to my IUD. And my iron was always too low to give blood. So as I've gotten older and felt my hair wasn't as thick as it use to be.. It may have all been due to that. Since now I give blood regularly and my iron is good it's finally thickening up again.

I do try to sometimes use some conditioner with protein, and regularly use moisturizing stuff. I was deathly afraid of losing my hair.

Wow...now I'm excited...now that I realize how long I probably had iron issues and that it's getting thicker now. I wonder how it'll be next year!!

P.S. What is orthorexia?
________________________
http://public.fotki.com/curlygirl1978/

Back on Cones,so now my routine is,wash with Deva No-Poo every other day or so. Occasionally use 365 sulfate free,maybe use low sulfate shampoo mixed with conditioner once every two weeks are longer. I condition with Aussie Moist or HEHH. I style with a little GF TN,and finish up with tons of GN Pure Clean Smoothing Cream. No frizz...slippy, happy hair.
I'm so sorry you had to go through that, Goddess! You seem so young to have a hysterectomy!

Ethereal, I have also had similar health issues. For me, I had to lose weight to keep my period under control so I'd stop bleeding. With less bleeding, my iron levels have sort of recuperated and it's so important for me to keep a healthy weight for that reason.

My hair took a beating. Whenever I'm not caring for myself mentally or physically, it is usually the thing to suffer first. A few months ago I experienced telogen effluvium and I was so scared all of my hair was going to fall out in the shower, right there and then! Then about a couple years before that, my hair would. not. grow! No matter what I did, but the minute I lost a ton of weight, my hair started growing again like a weed. However, to get to the length and thickness before my huge health issues, it took well over a year. Yup, that's right!

All I can say is ladies, it is so important for us to be mindful of our hormones and our mental state. Our bodies don't function like parts and we need to treat it like a whole. The best things we can do is treat our nutritional needs, reduce stress, get sleep, drink water, and exercise.

Last edited by Midwesterncurl; 10-23-2013 at 10:33 PM. Reason: extra detail
Yeah...im only 35. I'm better now. I am taking Ativan for anxiety and try to meditate a lot to help with stress I know that's tough on hair and skin. I also take hair skin and nails vitamins
________________________
http://public.fotki.com/curlygirl1978/

Back on Cones,so now my routine is,wash with Deva No-Poo every other day or so. Occasionally use 365 sulfate free,maybe use low sulfate shampoo mixed with conditioner once every two weeks are longer. I condition with Aussie Moist or HEHH. I style with a little GF TN,and finish up with tons of GN Pure Clean Smoothing Cream. No frizz...slippy, happy hair.
Something was not right with me as of the spring. I just knew it: my muscles were fatiguing easily (even so much as folding the laundry was exhausting the muscles in my arms and I work out and am fit) I was not sleeping well, was cold much of the time and my hair felt just a little 'off' in texture and I was getting a few grey strands at my temple.

So I went to the doctor in May but my usual one, was on holiday. My own doctor is quite thorough and I wish I had just waited until she had returned because the one I did see, chalked it up to being, 'just stress'. Thus, she dismissed my request to have blood work done (since it had not been 'quite year' when I last had it done). I wish I had pushed for it then because as of late summer, things just got progressively worse for me.

The fatigue increased, I developed a 'brain fog' which has decreased my abilities as a writer (which I am by trade) I noticed my immunity was at an ebb, my appetite became nil (NOT helping matters, of course, but exacerbating them) my periods became lighter and my moods more erratic. Then there was my hair--IS my hair: as of August, thinner-feeling strands, breaking like mad, dry-as-a-bone and while I have natural auburn highlights in my dark brown hair, I noticed these had oddly increased whereas my hair care routine had not so much.

I have to admit that I am not sure how much faith I put into the whole 'protein-moisture' balance because who the heck ever worried about that as a kid? Most shampoos and conditioners contain proteins and moisturizers. I believe that I probably rarely--if ever--used products without protein in my life as a result and I always had gorgeous hair. I talked to a hairdresser friend of mine who dismisses the whole 'protein-sensitive' belief system. I think protein (usually) is more of an issue for those who have chemically-processed hair and are using these hard treatments more often to replace what was lost through their hair being processed to begin with. I have virgin hair and have for well over 20 years. My hairdresser friend urged me to get my butt back to the doctor and to see MY doctor this time. While I waited for my appointment, I omitted protein from my hair care routine and frankly, it seemed to help at first but ultimately, no.

So...My doctor was alarmed by my symptoms and ordered bloods right away. We found I was very low on iron--but not enough to be called, 'anemic'. I sure as hell have the symptoms though, but she stated I could have symptoms of anemia without being low enough to be deemed such (technically).

I do know how it happened. 17 years of veganism and through a bout of orthorexia/anorexia and pregnancy/nursing, I have never had this happen--or any other nutritional deficiency. But I became severely depressed due to personal conflicts in my life, began to eat a sparse diet and ironically, a nutritionist suggested I quit and/or reduce taking green drinks, a health shake of mine as well as a couple of my other supplements. I really wish I had not listened to her. I do not 'live' on supplements by any means, but I do rely on a few and obviously, they have served me well for years and years now.

So now I am minding my 'p's and q's' and am on 600 mg. of iron per day for 3 months until I am to be re-tested and then my doctor and I are going to take it from there.

But my hair...What am I to do? I read it is usually the first to show signs of iron-deficiency and the last to recover and that it can take months. I am not sure it has months. It is about to my waistline and I really do not want to have to cut it ALL off. I read a very insightful article on lack of iron and how it can affect the hair (even imparting a red-brown hue to dark hair). I have got white dots on the ends of so many of my strands. I am not sure if I should trim it just yet, or wait till if/when this nutritional catastrophe is over as I recently cut off three inches before my hair went kaput over the past couple of months.

How do I keep it moister and stronger by external means while I heal the internal cause? I have been washing it only twice a week, finger-combing it (I only brush it gently just to smooth it over at the end), I have been deep conditioning it weekly, using a rinse-out conditioner after I shampoo and sometimes a leave-in and a sealant of argan or olive oil. I have not 'styled' my hair since I was a teenager and certainly with no heat styling tools either! But I do know, yes, one can 'overcondition'. I did that once and it sucked but was fixed quickly. I worry by putting so much moisture into it due to what I thought was 'just protein overload,' I have made it weaker. I worry that I am going to mess up my hair so that once my iron stores are enough to return it to its normal conformity and moisture level--I will have messed it up anyway by external means.

I think it may need protein again--just in a shampoo and a rinse-out. I also went off panthenol which I feels is essential to patching up some of this damage I have got from being 'malnourished'. I have, however, phased out, 'denatured alcohol' for good, having departed company with my 15 year-long love affair with, "Aubrey Organics". Am looking to this, "Alchemy" line now and am soon to make a purchase.

I hope I did not piss off anyone with my comments on protein above. I actually think I may have over-proteined my hair a couple of months ago but in my case, I am not sure it would have happened if my hair had not already been affected by the lack of iron in my system. My hair has always worshipped protein. I still wonder if it is/was a factor at all (since using a sample of, "Aubrey's GPB"--my hair got crunchy and fused together in a section). But I have been moisturizing my hair diligently, avoiding protein for 2 months and my hair is only superficially softer. If I do NOTHING to it, it gets thinner feeling, even more brittle and like parchment paper. Ultimately, it must be because of the iron-deficiency I know.

Gosh, just writing this post has winded me! I hate having to curtail my writing of late (overall) but in regard to this post, it is overdue for it. This 'illness' is certainly going to affect my career! I have even been falling asleep mid-pilates mat workout, it has gotten so bad.

Finally, another question? Anyone anemic and/or iron-deficient? How long did it take for your hair to recuperate? Was it really the last to recover among all other physical issues?

Thanks and love to you all! Brightest blessings too!

P.S. Sorry I ramble on...and on. Thanks to whomever reads this and/or responds!
Originally Posted by Ethereal
do you get any dietary protein being vegan? Are you averse to trying fermented soy protein and or soy protein shakes to work along with the iron you are taking? Lots of body parts rely on nutritional protein for repair and rebuilding and if you're not getting enough it could add to the weak muscle feeling, don't forget your heart is a muscle that needs building blocks of protein for repair and rebuild too...I hope you will do better soon, Its concerning to hear you are feeling so poorly.
shoulder length inverted bob; fine; 3A-3B; med-thick density; normal porosity; normal elasticity- my hair loves keratin, ACV, silk protein ,Curlkeeper and AG:Recoil ; seems to hate moisturizing products and oils except mineral oil; CG- Jan/'09-mod CG Sept/'09;CG again Jan/'10/mod CG from Mar'10

receive $10 off 1st order of $40 & up, or $5 off on smaller orders, when using iHERB code: GIK909
Hi Ethereal,

I am really late on this post but had to reply. I am sorry to you went through this. You are not alone.
I have iron-definciency anemia due to fibriods causing heavy bleeding. I had a myomectomy in October 2013 to remove the fibroid...come to find out I had one really large one. My blood is still building back up; I take iron pills twice per day and a multiple vitamin once per day.

My hair was awful; extremely dry and shedded everywhere. It got really thin where you could see me scalp...that's never happened before. I was in a bad state physically and emotionally before my surgery.

Now, my hair is very thick growing in; its like I am transitioning again just not from a relaxer this time. You can see my new growth up to this point here at Beauty By Anjoli I only shampoo about once per month. I rinse/co-wash twice per week. Deep condition once per week.

How are you and your hair doing?
3c pencil-sized corkscrews; low porosity; fine; layered

CO-Wash: Shea Moisture Co-Wash or Eden's Co-Wash Style: Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie

My YouTube Channel

http://beautybyanjoli.blogspot.com
I too have iron deficiency anemia due to heavy periods, I noticed that I was losing a lot of hairs 2 years ago and panicked and went to the doctor who diagnosed it. I've been on iron pills since then but I'm not sure it's making a difference.
Pre Shampoo: Olive Oil
Low Shampoo: Redken Curvaceous Cream Shampoo
Conditioner: Tresemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture
Treatments: SM Yucca & Baobab Masque/SM African Black Soap Masque/Joico K-Pak Reconstructor
Leave in/Oil:Castor Oil/Redken Diamond Oil Conditioner
Styling: AG Recoil Curl Activator/V05 Mega Hold/Cornstarch
Refresh: Redken Fresh Curls Curl Boost


Waist Length, 2B with 2C ends
I too have iron deficiency anemia due to heavy periods, I noticed that I was losing a lot of hairs 2 years ago and panicked and went to the doctor who diagnosed it. I've been on iron pills since then but I'm not sure it's making a difference.
Originally Posted by eveum
Go back to the doctor if your symptoms haven't improved.

Currently in the UK everyone is having their Vitamin D levels checked as due to the poor weather in the summer for the past few years, lots of people are vitamin D deficient. Even though this summer is fine it may not make up for the problems for the past few years. The symptoms start of being similar to iron deficiency.
Thanks to the OP for sharing this experience and story.

My question is slightly related to the iron part...

I'm also low iron due to the heavy monthly. I was recommended to start yet another BC (implant) to counter the pain and heaviness, but it's been a trade off I do not like (from 5 days to average 10 days; acne). I will stop next year.

Having read this forum and read a lot of women's accounts of post-partum shedding, I am nervous what's going to happen to my hair and skin when I stop taking BC to regulate my monthly pain...

Has anyone had any success just taking iron supplement vitamins when they stop BC? I just started taking iron supplements since changing my diet hasn't made a difference (still cold, tired, nail/eyelids discoloring, etc.) My desire is not to shock my body once I stop taking BC; I do not want to start thinning in my hair if my body thinks of it as a type of post-partum.



Last Relaxer: 12/24/2012
Weekly Products I'm Using:
VO5 Silky Experiences Coconut Milk Conditioner
KCKT
Grapeseed Oil
my hair is normal-ish porosity / dense / fine+medium strands
Two years ago, I realized I was experiencing hair loss and I was still only in my 20's. Blood tests revealed that I had a number of vitamin/mineral deficiencies, iron and Vitamin D most notably, and that my thyroid was underactive. I worked super hard (it took a year!) to get my vitamins back to normal levels and took a raincheck on hormones for the thyroid issue. I hoped that my thyroid would sort itself out once I gave it all the tools (iron etc) it needed - thank God I was right! It took a year for me to get healthy yet my hair was still thin, although it had stopped falling out. It's been one year since I became officially healthy again and I'm now noticing lots of little hairs growing all over my head - of course I'm delighted even though it makes me look like a frizzy mess! It's definitely too early for me to say definitively that my hair is growing back but I find it a lot easier to style now and I think it looks a bit better. So...don't lose heart if your hair hasn't grown back yet. In my experience, it takes a lot longer than the standard "up to a year". Good luck everyone. I know what hell it is.
pinkpostitheart likes this.
Woah, had no idea this could affect the hair. I'm sorry for all the problems everyone here has experienced. I'm severely anemic due to long term nonstop heavy bleeding. Have been on iron for a little over a week now, my dr wants me on more, but too much takes away my appetite so going about this slowly. I'm glad to hear that hair gets better… I have something to look forward to! Hearing how you all got healthier hair again after awhile gives me hope. Here I was thinking that I should be feeling better after only a week, now I know it's normal that I'm not yet. Yay for hoping to restore my previously thick density hair, and maybe thicker hair strands to boot.

2B/2C/f/i
Baby fine brown hair, high porosity
No poo: AVG mixed with glycerin
Stylers: SS CEJ, gelatin hair gel, SS FHG
Treatments: fenugreek, rosemary and chamomile tea rinse (with marshmallow root and irish moss water), henna, hydrogen peroxide
IA Girl's PT, SS PT
Homemake hair products.

Last edited by naturecat; 12-05-2014 at 09:59 PM.
something I learned recently for iron deficiency anemia is a natural remedy of 1tbsp of blackstrap molasses mixed with peanut butter 3 times per day. Apparently the blackstrap molasses is the magic ingredient and if you can take it straight, it will raise iron levels in a hurry. Its bitter but supposedly very effective.
naturecat likes this.
shoulder length inverted bob; fine; 3A-3B; med-thick density; normal porosity; normal elasticity- my hair loves keratin, ACV, silk protein ,Curlkeeper and AG:Recoil ; seems to hate moisturizing products and oils except mineral oil; CG- Jan/'09-mod CG Sept/'09;CG again Jan/'10/mod CG from Mar'10

receive $10 off 1st order of $40 & up, or $5 off on smaller orders, when using iHERB code: GIK909
something I learned recently for iron deficiency anemia is a natural remedy of 1tbsp of blackstrap molasses mixed with peanut butter 3 times per day. Apparently the blackstrap molasses is the magic ingredient and if you can take it straight, it will raise iron levels in a hurry. Its bitter but supposedly very effective.
Originally Posted by Ondulee
I'm actually a devoted blackstrap user. I've had it straight. Other ways that are more delicious is a spoon of it mixed with a spoon of warm water, then mixed into milk (people say it tastes like chocolate milk) and also a spoon of it in hot water (like a tea). I've also mixed it into yogurt and oatmeal, and covered the taste with other herbs and flavors. Peanut or almond butter mixing I haven't yet tried, thanks for the suggestion. Maybe with some cinnamon and a banana too. At this stage I need about 20 TBSP/day (lol). My blood loss is ongoing unfortunately.

Oh, also, mulberries have a high iron content generally. Nutritional yeast can if it's fortified as can cream of wheat… but I prefer natural iron the best.

2B/2C/f/i
Baby fine brown hair, high porosity
No poo: AVG mixed with glycerin
Stylers: SS CEJ, gelatin hair gel, SS FHG
Treatments: fenugreek, rosemary and chamomile tea rinse (with marshmallow root and irish moss water), henna, hydrogen peroxide
IA Girl's PT, SS PT
Homemake hair products.

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