What Your Blood Tells Us About Your Hair

Haematology

‘This is the branch of medicine involving study and treatment of your blood.’

There are many reasons as to why an individual may be losing their hair, ranging from age, genetics (male and female pattern baldness), stress, hormone imbalances and certain illnesses/medications.

Because there is not just one cause of hair loss, it can be complicated and complex when trying to work out the cause of the issue. Understanding and interpreting your blood results are a crucial part of a successful investigation into causes of hair loss.

The most relevant point being, when your GP reads your bloods they are quite rightly looking for normalisation with regards to your over all state of health. However, a correctly qualified Trichologist will be reading your results for optimisation of the blood results. This means having the optimal numbers with in your results to truly produce healthy, strong, vibrant hair.

Our Trichologists are certificated in reading optimal blood results.

The 2 most relevant blood tests to hair health are;

1. Complete Blood Count including;

Serum Ferritin and Vitamin B12. This test looks at your Red Blood Cells, Ferritin levels and B12 stores. A lack of ferritin and B12 in the body leads to a reduction in the number of red blood cells as they are necessary for the production of red cells.

Vitamin B12 is important for production of red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body – low levels can cause anaemia with associated symptoms of lack of energy and fatigue. Vitamin B12 is is found in virtually all meat products and certain algae such as seaweed. It helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells and is also needed to make DNA, the genetic material in all cells.

The human body stores several years’ worth of vitamin B12 – nutritional deficiency is most commonly seen in vegans and some vegetarians as well as the elderly who are more likely to suffer from absorption problems.

A lack of ferritin can lead to Iron Deficiency Anaemia (IDA).

Symptoms of IDA can be tiredness and lack of energy, shortness of breath, headache and of course hair loss. Many women with some form of hair loss are often anaemic with IDA. Ferritin is a protein which stores iron in your cells for your body to use later. Measuring ferritin levels gives us a good indication of the amount of iron stored in your body. Low levels of ferritin can be caused by excessive or chronic bleeding, poor absorption of iron or too little iron in the diet.

2. Hormone levels

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone)… High DHEA causes high testosterone (testosterone is 5x higher in males than on females), which in turn creates high DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) potentially causing hair loss from sensitive follicles. Normal levels of DHEA are very important.

The free androgen index (FAI)… This is a calculation used to determine the amount of male hormones (androgens) which are free (unbound) in the bloodstream. Most testosterone is bound to proteins – sex hormone binding globulin and albumin.

The FAI is a calculation based on the ratio of testosterone and SHBG and is a measure of the amount of circulating available testosterone. Thyroid… Both hypothyroidism (low) and hyperthyroidism (high), can cause hair loss. Human hair follicles are direct targets of thyroid hormones.

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) is produced in the pituitary gland and stimulates the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). High levels of TSH indicate an underactive thyroid while low levels indicate an overactive thyroid. In primary pituitary failure, a low TSH will be associated with an underactive thyroid.

Thyroxine (T4) is one of two hormones produced by the thyroid gland. Most T4 is bound to carrier proteins in the blood. This test measures the level of T4 which is free, or unbound, circulating in your blood. High levels of free thyroxine can indicate an overactive thyroid while low levels can indicate an underactive thyroid.

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