Nutrients Count – Iron Intake For Healthy Hair Growth

Depleted, deficient & toxic levels of iron in human blood have been associated with several hair loss concerns.


Iron is an essential mineral, that’s stored in the hemoglobin of your red blood cells as a protein called ferritin. The stored Iron is released whenever your body needs to make new blood cells. Extra iron is stored in your liver and muscle cells.


Low levels of ferritin presenting on a blood test report may be a factor for some but not all females, which leads to an individual’s hair loss or fragile, brittle, and limp tresses.  Iron is essential for healthy hair cell development which is one of the fastest dividing cells in the body.  Iron is also essential for the growth phase to function to its full potential so that hair grows strong and doesn’t fall out prematurely.  On some blood test reports the iron store level is identified as serum ferritin. Levels outside of the optimal range are a concern to Trichologists, as are all the other components in the blood that associate with the iron profile.

Balanced Iron levels are essential in order to prevent anemia and for both the production of energy and oxygen circulation around the body. When your body is short of oxygen vital organs receive whatever iron is available as a priority due to the body’s inbuilt desire to survive.  To manage the depleted levels the body starts to recycle old red blood cells to use the iron found in the cells to provide the body with the iron it requires. There are several stages of severity for iron deficiency, the least severe level probably won’t show up on a blood test.

Aiming for the optimal range of serum ferritin blood levels is a good idea for anyone suffering from hair growth concerns. The recommended daily intake of iron for females is 14 mg. If you need to digest more than this to increase levels you may need an iron supplement – to reduce the risk of stomach irritation you should speak to your GP to find out the amount that will be safe for you to take and for how long you should take it.  Also monitoring your iron or any blood chemistry levels when managing nutritional imbalance is a good precaution to take to ensure you don’t increase them too much!


One of the safest ways to maintain and balance iron levels is by eating a healthy diet that contains iron-rich foods.  There are two kinds of iron that can be digested as part of a daily diet – Heme iron, and Non-Heme iron. Heme iron is from animal foods, it’s a complete protein, and more easily absorbed by mankind, Non-Heme iron is found in plant-based foods. More than 95% of functional iron in the human body is Heme iron. Therefore, vegetarians and vegans may need to aim for a higher daily intake of iron and pay attention to which nutrients in foods impair absorption eg. calcium, and which are believed to boost iron absorption e.g vitamin C.

See the below table for examples of animal and plant foods with a guide on iron content for each:


    RDA  Foods High in Iron

Adults:  Male – 8 mg    Female Pre-menopause 14mg                                                  Post-menopause 8mg

Mg of iron per serving Percent of 14mg daily value (for women) per serving
Ready-to-eat cereal, 100% iron-fortified, ½ cup 12 mg 85.5%
Oatmeal, instant, fortified, prepared with water, 1 packet 11 mg 78.5%
Soybeans, mature, boiled, ½ cup 4.4 mg 31%
Turkey, dark meat, roasted, 6 ounces 4 mg 28%
Lentils, boiled, ½ cup 3.3 mg 23%
Tofu, raw, firm, ½ cup 3.4 mg 24%
Beef, top sirloin, steak, lean only, broiled, 6 ounces 3.2 mg 22%
Spinach, fresh, boiled, drained, ½ cup 3.2 mg 22%
Beans, kidney, mature, boiled, ½ cup 2.6 mg 18%
Chicken, light meat, meat only, 6 ounces 1.8 mg 12%
Tomatoes, red, ripe, canned, stewed, ½ cup 1.7 mg 12%
Pork, loin chop, broiled, 6 ounces 1.4 mg 10%
Mushrooms, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt, ½ cup 1.4 mg 10%
Tuna, light, canned in water, 3 ounces 1.3 mg 9%
Seeds, pumpkin and squash seed kernels, roasted, 36 seeds 1.1 mg 7%
Raisins, seedless, packed, ¼ cup 0.8 mg 5%
Molasses, 1 tablespoon 0.9 mg 6%
Tuna, fresh, yellowfin, cooked, dry heat, 3 ounces 0.8 mg 5%
Peas, green, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt, 0.6 mg 4%
Dates, deglet noor, ¼ cup 0.5 mg 3%
Shrimp, mixed species, cooked, moist heat, 4 large 0.3 mg 2%
Halibut, cooked, dry heat, 6 ounces 0.4 mg 2.5%


Other foods may deplete the body of iron, anything with high tannin content: tea or coffee, carbonated drinks, as well as cow’s milk, chocolate, and rhubarb. For folk prone to iron deficiency, large amounts of these drinks and foods can actually block cells from absorbing a full dose of iron.

The main reason for this blog is to let you know if you’re suffering from hair loss or are concerned that your hair is not as healthy as you think it should be, there’s a possibility that a nutritional imbalance or underlying health concern may be contributing to, or causing your hair worries. A Trichologist can help you find out what is causing your hair concerns and help you onto a healthy hair journey.

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