Don’t panic, but if you have pernicious anemia from vitamin B12 deficiency, then you might also suffer hair loss. And it’s not just a “guy thing”- even women may experience hair loss or whitening when pernicious anemia (or iron deficiency anemia) is present. Here’s what you need to know about pernicious anemia, vitamin B12, and your hair.
Pernicious anemia (PA)-vitamin B12 deficiency is a disorder that alters your red blood cells and lowers your oxygen supply to the brain. Decreased oxygen in the brain causes telltale symptoms like fatigue, memory problems, and difficulty concentrating.
Other symptoms of pernicious anemia may include “pins and needles” or numbness in hands and feet, difficulty walking straight, decreased motor control, depression, anxiety, muscular pain, infertility, and vision problems.
For more on pernicious anemia, read Pernicious Anemia and B12 Deficiency- Historically Fatal, Still Formidable
Iron deficiency anemia
Iron deficiency is sometimes caused by not eating enough iron-rich foods, but it can also result from severe blood loss, pregnancy, menstruation, or…autoimmune disorders, like celiac disease or…pernicious anemia.
Whoa! Now I have iron deficiency, too?
Unfortunately, iron deficiency is a comorbid condition of pernicious anemia. So if you’ve been diagnosed with pernicious anemia, because of either intrinsic factor autoimmune disorder or gastritis, then you run a high risk of also suffering from iron deficiency anemia.
Where’s the proof?
Findings from studies such as this JAMA report on iron deficiency anemia note a significantly strong correlation with vitamin B12 deficiency.
Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia
Iron deficiency causes many of the same symptoms as vitamin B12 deficiency- tiredness, moodiness, and general discomfort.
And yes, hair loss.
Iron deficiency symptoms include:
- Rapid hair loss
- Hair whitening
- Dry hair
- Brittle nails
- Spoon-shaped nails
- Nail discoloration
- Frequent bruising
- Pale skin
- Chronic fatigue
- Weak muscles
- Brain fog
- Cold hands and feet
- Restless leg syndrome
- Sore tongue
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Irregular heartbeat
- Bizarre cravings for ice or dirt
- Sudden weight loss
Iron or B12?
In the JAMA study, participants who received regular supplementation of vitamin B12 experienced significant and favorable results. It’s important to find out if your iron supplies are also low, so that you may begin the healing process and avoid any further hair loss.
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Read more about vitamin B12 and pernicious anemia
9 Conditions that Mimic Fibromyalgia and Vitamin B12 Deficiency
6 Degrees of Vitamin B12- B12 Deficiency and Autoimmune Disease
Anemia and Hair Loss
Reversible Hyperpigmentation of Skin and Nails With White Hair due to Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Iron Deficiency Occurs Frequently in Patients With Pernicious Anemia