Ferritin and hair health; Is ferritin a reliable biomarker in relation to hair loss?
COULD FERRITIN LEVELS BE LINKED TO HAIR HEALTH?
Ferritin is a protein that stores iron, releasing it when needed for metabolic function. Ferritin is usually stored in the cells of the body and a small amount circulates in the blood. Ferritin binds tightly to iron until the body needs to produce more blood cells.
Serum levels of ferritin are commonly measured to assess iron stores but are levels are affected by factors. When there is enough circulating iron, iron stores should remain within the normal range. As iron is essential for the production of red blood cells that carry that carry haemoglobin to the hair follicle, it is important that there are adequate stores fornormal hair growth.
WHAT DOES A NORMAL FERRITIN RESULT MEAN?
A normal blood test result means the biomarker tested falls within the range defined by the laboratory. A ferritin level at the lower range of normal may have a detrimental effect on the hair.
If ferritin levels are low, other biomarkers like haemoglobin, serum iron and transferrin saturation should be investigated. The ferritin test can be misleading in cases where there is inflammation in the body or an infection, so taken alone, it is not a reliable indication of whether iron deficiency is present.
MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT FERRITIN LEVELS
Ferritin levels above 40 µg/L are recommended for hair growth and trichologists advise a level of over 70µg/L. Low ferritin levels are not an automatic indicator of a low iron as men and women can have low ferritin levels and have a healthy head of hair. Ferritin results must always be viewed in a wider context considering medical history and type of hair loss.
THE FINAL WORD
Regardless of your individual result, other important biomarker parameters must be investigated such asliver function, hormones, vitamins and minerals. Diagnosing the cause of hair loss can be difficult with blood tests as the results can often come back within the normal ranges. If you are concerned about your hair loss, see a doctor or a hair loss specialist that can advise you on the next steps.
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