Blood tests

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Which blood tests should I be looking at in regards to hair loss? I know low iron and dodgy thyroid levels can have an effect, but is there anything else?
I'm way overdue a visit to my GP and will probably go next week - I thought I'd mention my hair thinning, I've never done so before as I feel too vain and my GP practice generally doesn't like doing things they don't deem absolutely essential (prevention be damned!).
I want them to check my hormone levels as I'm 50 and I'm pretty sure something is happening (albeit very slowly) on the menopause front, so I thought I could ask them about other bloods too. Don't want to sound like I don't know what I'm talking about!
3b in South Australia.
There are numerous possible contributory or causing factors, I'd let the professionals do their job and decide on which blood tests are essential based on ALL your symptoms. Hormone imbalances (thyroid, diabetes, menopause) can be tested for, nutrients cannot all. I work in lifestyle healthcare and many times people don't recognise mild symptoms as being symptoms at all, they think it's normal to have low energy or ridges in their nails or whatever.

You can review your diet and lifestyle yourself, start a food diary of everything that passes your lips as you eat it not at the end of the day when you have forgotten. Then research your government's healthy eating and living guidelines and ensure you are consistently meeting or exceeding every last one. Also ensure you are maintaining a healthy weight and body fat percentage, not too high nor too low.

Here in the UK the most common nutrient deficiencies are vitamin D, magnesium and long chain omega-3s and these can all affect skin or hair. I often see female clients who don't touch complete protein before their evening meal or regularly skip meals. In general Brits eat way too much white refined carbs and sugar and way too little oily fish, low sugar fruits and non starchy vegetables.

Lastly be sure you are cleansing your scalp with a super gentle product that respects the skin barrier, sulphate surfactants and alkaline agents like soap or baking soda can contribute to underlying inflammation and cause hair loss in susceptible individuals.
curlypearl and LeanneM like this.
2a-2c, medium texture, porous/ colour treated. Three years CG. Past bra strap length heading for waist.

CO-wash: Inecto coconut/ Elvive Volume Collagen
Treatments: Komaza Care Matani, coconut/ sweet almond/ fractionated coconut oils, Hairveda Sitrinillah
Leave in: Fructis Sleek & Shine (old), Gliss Ultimate Volume, various Elvive
Styler: Umberto Giannini jelly, Au Naturale styling gelee
Flour sack towel, pixie diffuse or air dry.
Experimenting with: benign neglect
Good luck, Starmie. I hope you find out what is causing the thinning.

Please let us know what the tests reveal.
2/c and some 3A. Modified CG.
Protein sensitive
Highly porous. Color over grey.
Best 1st day method: Super Soaker
Conditioners: Curl Junkie Beauticurls Strengthening Conditioner,
Deep condish: Curl Junkie Curl Rehab
Stylers: Mix Curls in a Bottle into everything for shine. Terrible pj
Sometimes try roller sets - classic glamor but I prefer my curls.
Every day is a gift
Thanks for the replies ladies.
Firefox - Sadly I think if I leave it up to my GP she'll tell me she can't see anything's wrong and will decide that nothing is essential, it seems to be the way they work at my practice! You have to be really quite insistent and it's not something I'm comfortable with (despite being a nurse for over 30 yrs and knowing that doctors aren't actually the all-knowing creatures we're meant to think they are). My diet is something I have looked at over time (the thinning isn't a new thing) and I don't think it's that bad, though I have been trying to up my protein lately. I find it hard to believe anyone in Australia has low vitD but apparently some of us do, so that's something to look at. Thanks for the input.
Thanks for the well wishes cp - I'll let you know if I get any answers.
3b in South Australia.
Thanks for the replies ladies.
Firefox - Sadly I think if I leave it up to my GP she'll tell me she can't see anything's wrong and will decide that nothing is essential, it seems to be the way they work at my practice! You have to be really quite insistent and it's not something I'm comfortable with (despite being a nurse for over 30 yrs and knowing that doctors aren't actually the all-knowing creatures we're meant to think they are). My diet is something I have looked at over time (the thinning isn't a new thing) and I don't think it's that bad, though I have been trying to up my protein lately. I find it hard to believe anyone in Australia has low vitD but apparently some of us do, so that's something to look at. Thanks for the input.
Thanks for the well wishes cp - I'll let you know if I get any answers.
Originally Posted by Starmie
Maybe take a photo of you with thicker hair to the doctor? Or try a new doctor?

Not that bad is very different to meeting or exceeding all your government's recommendations for healthy eating and lifestyle. I rarely see a client who does here, and the vast majority of the population have some sort of health issue (major or minor, physical or mental) which could be helped with lifestyle modification. Lifestyle choices interact with any underlying health issues and your age, I'm not suggesting it's the sole cause.

As you say even Aussies can have low vit D, some are so careful with protecting their skin by staying out of the sun and wearing block or perhaps work strange shifts. You won't have an issue if you are eating plenty of oily fish tho, if you aren't then you are likely low on long chain omega-3s anyway - important in dermatological health, hormone balance and powerful anti inflammatories.

I do feel for you, I suspect I'm getting the very earliest symptoms of peri-menopause at only 40+ despite looking a decade younger! My mother has really thin hair so I guess I have all that to come.
2a-2c, medium texture, porous/ colour treated. Three years CG. Past bra strap length heading for waist.

CO-wash: Inecto coconut/ Elvive Volume Collagen
Treatments: Komaza Care Matani, coconut/ sweet almond/ fractionated coconut oils, Hairveda Sitrinillah
Leave in: Fructis Sleek & Shine (old), Gliss Ultimate Volume, various Elvive
Styler: Umberto Giannini jelly, Au Naturale styling gelee
Flour sack towel, pixie diffuse or air dry.
Experimenting with: benign neglect
I've thought about taking a photo with me but worried that it might be overkill. I've also though about changing doctors but then who's to say a new one will be any different? Sometimes she's good and very helpful and sometimes the total opposite, especially when it comes to prevention, which I find very odd. The male doc I sometimes see seems to be more pro-active, but I don't want to see him about my girly stuff which is the reason I'm going in the first place. I'll see what happens and then have a rethink if needs be.
3b in South Australia.
I've thought about taking a photo with me but worried that it might be overkill. I've also though about changing doctors but then who's to say a new one will be any different? Sometimes she's good and very helpful and sometimes the total opposite, especially when it comes to prevention, which I find very odd. The male doc I sometimes see seems to be more pro-active, but I don't want to see him about my girly stuff which is the reason I'm going in the first place. I'll see what happens and then have a rethink if needs be.
Originally Posted by Starmie
Could you get a new doctor recommended to you by a neighbour, friend or colleague? It is a PITA to switch I've had to do it, this last time I went to from a practice with one doctor to a practice with many which means I have a better choice as much as anything.

Working in lifestyle healthcare I know exactly what you mean about many doctors not being helpful when it comes to prevention or natural self care. It's very frustrating to us when we know how solid the research is.
Hootenanny likes this.
2a-2c, medium texture, porous/ colour treated. Three years CG. Past bra strap length heading for waist.

CO-wash: Inecto coconut/ Elvive Volume Collagen
Treatments: Komaza Care Matani, coconut/ sweet almond/ fractionated coconut oils, Hairveda Sitrinillah
Leave in: Fructis Sleek & Shine (old), Gliss Ultimate Volume, various Elvive
Styler: Umberto Giannini jelly, Au Naturale styling gelee
Flour sack towel, pixie diffuse or air dry.
Experimenting with: benign neglect
Stop the thyroid madness recommends getting free t3, free t4, reverse t3, antibodies and tsh done for thyroid. Most drs dont order these specific tests. More in at www.stopthethyroidmadness.com

Then there's Iron levels, adrenal hormones, and peri-menopause/menopause can affect progesterone, estrogen and testosterone levels.
Since 80% of the population is deficient in magnesium, it's likely you are. The test your dr runs for mag is inaccurate as it checks blood serum levels and only 1% of the body's mag is stored in the blood serum. Need to check the red blood cells in a test called rbc magnesium test. Want a level over 6.0 despite the new lower reference range

Mag is involved in over 1000 biochemical processes so it's crucial for health. Dr Carolyn Dean's book The Magnesium Miracle explains how important mag is. Mag deficiency is at the root of most health problems.

Adrenals are another area that can contribute to hair loss but your regular dr isnt likely to test them properly. Need a 4 pt saliva collection which will tell you how your adrenals are functioning ir you can do a 4 pt blood draw but it's hard to find a lab open at 10pm

I lost most of my hair in my late 20s/early 30s. I have lupus which contributes but also all medications deplete the body of vitamins/minerals and I was on a ton! Suzy Cohen's book Drug Muggers breaks it all down.
It's mostly regrown with the help of Rogaine 5%, quality fish oil, magnesium malate and magnesium glycinate, adrenal support and armour thyroid.
It's definitely a process....takes many months to see progress. Take before pics so you have a reference. Good luck
ButterCurl likes this.
Wow, thanks for that crimsonshedemon. Will do a bit of reading up now I have more of an idea what I'm looking at. I suspect you're right and it may well be a long process, I can't imagine my GP being thrilled to do all those tests, I think I'll be chipping away for a while!
I still haven't been to see her (was going for a pap smear and got my period early so it didn't happen) so am glad you replied when you did.

Firefox - I know of a women's clinic in the city which has both GP's and specialists, it's a bit of a trek for me but I'm definitely thinking of going if I don't get any joy from my regular practice.
Firefox7275 likes this.
3b in South Australia.
Just a mini update. I finally got to the doctors today, saw someone different as my GP has left the surgery. She was really nice and not at all dismissive of my concerns, which something I was worried about. I'm going to get some bloods taken tomorrow, they're just basic tests, unfortunately, but I'm going back to see her for the results next week and she said she'll refer me to a dermatologist if they don't show anything. I wanted to see a derm anyway for my psoriasis so I'm hopeful that he/she will know of the more specific tests I should have and we can go from there.
I took an old photo with me, which I'd dithered about, and am glad I did as it really showed the difference so she knew it wasn't all in my head!
3b in South Australia.
Great progress, thanks for updating!
curlypearl likes this.
2a-2c, medium texture, porous/ colour treated. Three years CG. Past bra strap length heading for waist.

CO-wash: Inecto coconut/ Elvive Volume Collagen
Treatments: Komaza Care Matani, coconut/ sweet almond/ fractionated coconut oils, Hairveda Sitrinillah
Leave in: Fructis Sleek & Shine (old), Gliss Ultimate Volume, various Elvive
Styler: Umberto Giannini jelly, Au Naturale styling gelee
Flour sack towel, pixie diffuse or air dry.
Experimenting with: benign neglect
As a nurse I had to laugh at the comment about letting the doctors decide which tests are necessary. ... ha!

Prime example... pt comes into ER for classic heart attack workup. All tests come back negative. Pt has midsternal chest pain sudden onset, middle of the night. Relieved with nitro. Doc wants to admit for 24 hour obs. I request a gallbladder ultrasound and liver enzyme. Doctor says "do it if you want but its not gallbladder"
One cholecystectomy ans ercp later and a thanks from the patient. (Gallbladder removed and stones scooped out of bile duct)
No thanks from the doc proven wrong... but a happy patient. Thank your nurses!


Oh and you can test many nutrient deficiencies. All off the fat soluble vitamins plus Bs and iron.

Test to consider for women
D , B12 and folic acid, ferritin, tsh , free t4 , free t3,

If inflammation is a concern consider ANA and rheumatoid factor

Also consider hormone testing.

And some thinning is just genetics


Hope this helps!



EDIT- didnt read the first time your a nurse so I guess you didn't need my example of the "all knowing" physician. Lol

Last edited by Ashleynicol; 08-08-2013 at 09:37 PM.
Went to get the results today and nothing startling to report. Anything that might have an effect on my hair came back normal, apart from having a low iron level. Not sure that's indicative of anything as it's been fine in the past and the hair loss pre-dated the previous blood tests. I have a referral to a dermatologist now though, so I'll make an appointment and see if they can shed any light on the subject.
Watch this space (but don't hold your breath!).
3b in South Australia.
Went to get the results today and nothing startling to report. Anything that might have an effect on my hair came back normal, apart from having a low iron level. Not sure that's indicative of anything as it's been fine in the past and the hair loss pre-dated the previous blood tests. I have a referral to a dermatologist now though, so I'll make an appointment and see if they can shed any light on the subject.
Watch this space (but don't hold your breath!).
Originally Posted by Starmie
Low HB level or low ferritin level? Also does low equal in the lab range or outside the lab range?

Ferritin is the stored iron so you can have a normal Haemglobin result but can actually have a low ferritin level which means you will lose hair.

Also if the ferritin level is on the low side of the lab range then again you will lose hair.
I think it was the ferritin level that was low, outside the lab range. I wish I'd asked for a copy of the results as I can't remember the figures now.
3b in South Australia.
I think it was the ferritin level that was low, outside the lab range. I wish I'd asked for a copy of the results as I can't remember the figures now.
Originally Posted by Starmie
Low ferritin means hair loss for many women.

You need to raise your iron Ievels which unlike raising haemoglobin levels will take over a year as it's not as straight forward.

Low ferritin levels are often a precursor in many women to low haemoglobin levels i.e. anaemia.

You need to get a copy of your full test results as depends on your haemoglobin levels how you approach it.

Also another reason to get a copy is to help the dermatologist determine what is wrong as s/he should be able to advise how you go about raising your ferritin level. Doctors aren't magicians and if you have test results it's a good idea to bring a copy with you as it helps them to help you.

Forgot to add the "copy" should be of all blood tests results you can find in your medical records in the last few years. As it will simply show whether it's a long standing diet problem or a new one.

BTW I know you are a nurse so know most of this but there are others reading this who aren't, so won't think of asking what "low" is or whether it would be better if their figures of certain nutrients should be in the "mid-range".

Last edited by Blueblood; 08-18-2013 at 02:54 AM.
Hey starmie. My mum was diagnosed with low vit d after living in Aus in for over 10 years. But it turns out her body doesn't make it properly. Rickets are also on the rise in Aus.

My GP here is useless when it comes to losing hair or excess hair where it shouldn't be. It's deemed a vanity thing and ignored. I'm certainI have the same dodgy hormones my mum had but still getting ignored.
Fat does not make you fat. It's actually pretty important.
Thanks so much for your input Blueblood. I am a nurse but only psych trained so never really learnt much medical stuff back in the day, been at it far too long now so have obviously learnt as I've gone along, but I still have to stop and think. Was thinking about your previous post today - I never realised that I could have a low ferritin level but show a normal haemoglobin, so I could have been low in iron for ages and not known because my haemoglobin was normal. I've never complained about my hair loss to my dr before so they've not been looking - the bloods I've had done have just been general check-up stuff. Hmm, hopefully it is the cause of the loss and I can get back on track. I have to go back in three months to get my levels checked.
My dr is going to send the results to the derm when I've made the appointment, she gave me a choice of two so it depends which one I get the appt with.

Curlylaura, that sucks about your gp, that was one of my worries going to see mine - that I would just be dismissed but she (different gp to usual) was really nice and when I said that I'd never complained about it before because I felt I was being vain, she looked over her glasses at me at said 'no, it's not vain, it's important'. I was so relieved, and surprised.
Firefox mentioned vit d and I know more people are deficient here than you'd think, I don't know if she checked that, if she did it must have been ok.
Nice to see you btw!
3b in South Australia.
Starmie don't presume your Vitamin D level is adequate.

Reading guidelines from the US, UK, Aus and other countries on adequate Vitamin D levels there is no agreement. Even within the UK there isn't any agreement as different labs use different ranges.

Knowing various different health professions and talking to them about it unless they are specialist in a disease that involves particular nutrients, they rely very strongly on lab results telling them a level is out of the normal range - that's if you can get them to do the blood tests in the first place.

My GP didn't pick up my classic symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency long before I had significant hair loss there as when the Nurse I saw a couple of months later when she heard all the symptoms she knew what she was specifically testing for.
Starmie, I need to see that doctor.
Starmie likes this.
Fat does not make you fat. It's actually pretty important.

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