iron for healthy hair

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You want: More help for your thinning hair

Try eating more: Iron

If you're meeting your iron RDA (18 mg for women 19 to 50 years old and 8 mg for women 51 years and older), increasing your intake probably won't make a big difference. But if blood tests show that you're deficient, adding more iron to your diet may lead to a change for the better. When Korean researchers compared the serum ferritin levels of women with female-pattern hair loss to those without hair loss, they found that levels were an average of 45 percent lower among women losing their strands. Study author Jong Hee Lee, MD, at the department of dermatology at Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in Seoul, Korea, wrote in an email that his hair-loss patients have seen improvement with increases in iron intake. Your body absorbs iron from meat better than iron from plant sources, which is why the RDA for vegetarians is almost twice that for meat eaters, and beef is near the top of the list for iron content. Chicken and turkey are also good sources. For plant-based options, try beans, lentils or tofu. And keep in mind that it takes time for nutrient intake via food to affect hair growth, so stick with it for at least a few months to see any results, says Amy McMichael, MD, a professor and chair of the department of dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist Health, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.