Thyroid UK

Is there a connection to ferritin level and hair loss with hypothyroidism?

Hi all, I am new posting to this website but have been reading with interest for some time!

I have been suffering with hair loss for several months which is getting worse. I had bloods back in oct which were 4.86 tsh and 12 T4 ( they didn't test t3 or antibodies).

I have just started on levothyroxine 50mg. I asked the doctor could my ferritin level if 50 also affect hair loss as my thyroid results were not that drastic to cause so much hair loss ( about 30% of hair is gone, if not more ..) I loose at the root with a white bulb on end and no regrow the. She said no as my ferritin is 50 but some websites say it should be higher? She said she had never even heard of this connection...

I am loosing weight unless I try and increase the amount I am eating and tired all the time.

Has anyone else has experience with hair loss with sub clinical hypothyroidism?

Thank you for any help at all,

Nikki

18 Replies
oldestnewest

Welcome to the forum, Niklew.

It seems that ferritin needs to be >70 for hair regrowth. I'm sorry I don't have links to substantiate.

Untreated hypothyroidism is more likely to be responsible for hair shedding. It can actually get a little worse when you first start taking Levothyroxine but should start improving after a few months as your thyroid levels improve. Fatigue will be due to low thyroid hormone.

I experienced unwanted weight loss on Levothyroxine. I was advised to eat frequent small meals to maintain weight. I found protein shakes inbetween meals helpful in gaining some weight.

The goal of Levothyroxine is to restore the patient to euthyroid status. For most patients that will be when TSH is 0.3 - 1.0 with FT4 in the upper range. FT4 needs to be in the upper range in order that sufficient T3 is converted. Read Treatment Options in thyroiduk.org.uk/tuk/about_...

For maximum absorption Levothyroxine should be taken with water 1 hour before, or 2 hours after, food and drink, 2 hours away from other medication and supplements, and 4 hours away from calcium, iron, vitamin D supplements, magnesium and oestrogen.

It takes 7-10 days for Levothyroxine to be absorbed before it starts working and it will take up to six weeks to feel the full impact of the dose. Symptoms may lag behind good biochemistry by several months.

You should have a follow up thyroid test 6-8 weeks after starting Levothyroxine. Arrange an early morning and fasting (water only) blood draw when TSH is highest, and take Levothyroxine after your blood draw.

thyroiduk.org.uk/tuk/about_...

Reply

Thank you for your reply! Oh no I’m dreading more hair loss first .... is this a common side effect of Levothyroxine? my GP refused to test T3 and I asked about iron supplements and she refused saying as it’s within ‘the range’ then not to take any. I have bought some gentle iron 20mg and thought to take 1-2 day to give 40mg elemental iron?

I had bloods last November as I wasn’t feeling well and all come back normal but when I asked this oct what my thyroid was back then it was tsh 3.46 and T4 13 so I think that was prob why. I wish they would analyse bloods better rather than just saying if it’s in the range then it’s fine. I think if they had seen it was higher side of the norm they should have said to retest in 3-6 months..

Thank you again

Reply

Niklew,

I didn't say Levothyroxine would cause more hair loss, I was just warning you that it might.

T3 is rarely tested in primary care and not often in secondary care unless TSH is suppressed <0.03. You can order private thyroid tests but I wouldn't bother until TSH is around 1 with FT4 higher in range.

Get into the habit of asking for results and ranges of ALL blood tests. You can always post them on the forum for advice or Google them.

Reply

Thank you- you have all been great help. I’m finding the whole hair loss really distressing. I’ve always had fine hair but lots of it but can now visibly see my scalp at the front and sides. I try and wash my hair every 3-4 days as I find it so upsetting.

Thank you for your help. Do you think iron supplements would help at all? Biotin?

Thank you

Reply

Niklew,

You could try iron and biotin. Make sure you stop taking biotin a week before ALL blood tests as it can skew results.

Reply

From thyroidpharmacist.com/artic...

"Normal ferritin levels for women are between 12 and 150 ng/mL. According to some experts, Ferritin levels of at least 40 ng/ml are required to stop hair loss, while levels of at least 70 ng/ml are needed for hair regrowth. The optimal ferritin level for thyroid function is between 90-110 ng/ml."

Other interesting hairloss articles worth reading:

hypothyroidmom.com/10-thing...

healdove.com/disease-illnes...

Reply

Thank you! I am going to take evidence with me for my next GP app... I said about taking supplements and they said no and I said well I chose to will you please test me ferritin at my next thyroid blood test date and they said no...

Reply

Niklew,

Ferritin increases slowly. You can wait 4-6 months after supplementing iron before retesting. If you do take iron make sure to take it 4 hours away from Levothyroxine. Taking iron with 1,000mg vitamin C will aid absorption and minimise constipation.

You can order private thyroid, vitamin and mineral tests via thyroiduk.org.uk/tuk/testin... Medichecks offer #ThyroidThursday discounts.

Reply

I got fed up with all that palaver of begg8ng for tests that doctors didn’t want to do - T3, Vitamin D, B12 I didn’t ask about ferritin, folates and antibodies.

In the end I stumped up and got a Blue Horizons home finger prick test (I use Thyroid 11) and found out everything I could ever have wanted to know. I’ve topped up my B12 and vitamin D myself, gone gluten free and massively reduced my thyroid antibodies and I don’t bother with my doctor for any of that now ( I’m in remission from Graves Disease) life is much easier that way.

I found it really satisfying back when I was being treated to turn up at the endo knowing what my bloods would be like because I’d done my own tests in advance 😉

1 like
Reply

That’s brilliant your in remission!!! You could educate some doctors!

1 like
Reply

Niklew

If you want just ferritin testing and GP wont do it, check out Medichecks fingerprick test, they do

Iron medichecks.com/iron-tests/iron £29

Iron Status Check medichecks.com/iron-tests/i... £39 (I do this one)

You can help raise your level by eating liver regularly, maximum 200g per week due to it's high Vit A content, and including lots of iron rich foods in your diet apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/in... I raised mine from 35 to 119 over a period of time by just eating liver once a week, I couldn't tolerate iron supplements.

Reply

That’s fab advise thank you - didn’t realise I could pay and do my own tests. Thank you everyone for your advice. Did you find it took a while for the thyroid meds and iron supplements to make a difference? I’m trying to think if I wash my hair once a week maybe in 12 washes it may be better :(

Reply

Niklew

I haven't suffered hair loss (fortunately) so can't help there.

Reply

Hiya Niklew, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism around 30 years ago and some years later I found myself in the same situation regarding hairloss. I had lost a great deal of weight but unfortunately a great deal of hair with it! I learnt that with a large weight loss or unwanted weight loss as you have stated then the body will sent the nutrients to where they are most needed, unfortunately your hair being right at the very bottom of the list! I also learnt that you do indeed need a good ferritin level for regrowth and I was recommended Ferrograd C. This is a slow release iron supplement which includes vitamin C. Of course you need to test and make sure your levels don't go over and your thyroid results need to be at their optimum. I also was advised to wash my hair more often to encourage new growth not less. I know it can look alarming but you cannot wash your hair away whatever comes out would have soon been shed anyway. I fully understand how you are feeling but i am sure given time it will recover. My hair had always been my pride and joy, extremely long and thick. I found myself making regular trips to the hairdressers to have it cut shorter and short as it got thinner and thinner. Be good to yourself, eat as well as you can, do what you need to do to get your ferritin level up and be patient and I'm sure your hair will be back to normal as indeed it was for me.

Reply

When I was being treated with carbimazole I accidentally became very hypo ( I’ve got Graves Disease which is hyper)

When I saw the endo for the first time I was then started on T4 as well as the carb. By the time I went for me next endo visit six weeks later my hair was falling out like mad. Every time I washed it I cleared masses of hair out of the plughole.

Upset didn’t even cover it, handfuls of hair falling out absolutely drove me wild. It got everywhere I was forever serving it up to my poor husband.

When I saw the endo at my second visit after I had started on levo as well as carbimazole she said no wonder I felt awful, it was because my body had been on a roller coaster having gone from being massively hyper to being very hypo in a very short period of time and that as my thyroid got back to normal my hair would sort itself out.

To a certain extent it did. In between I used various hair products. I started off with meadowsweet shampoo and conditioner, then I moved on to a Kerastase shampoo that helped your scalp - can’t remember what it was called. I’m using Plantur 39 products now and that seems good but like you I try to wash my hair as little as possible. I also use a bristle brush - a Kent version of those really expensive Mason Pearson brushes, my hairdresser said that would be good, that it distributes the oils and stops it getting like straw so he was right.

I also let my hair grow, it’s shoulder length now. I’ve got arthritis and I find it hard to hold my arms up to do anything with my hair and I think being longer helps because it’s much easier to keep and I don't have to handle is as much as I did when it was shorter.

I try and eat really good food, lots of eggs, oily fish, vegetables, drink lots of water - basically avoid junk food. I’ve made sure my vitamin D and B12 are well up as well as ferritin and folates.

So fingers crossed that it isn’t too long before your hair calms down and stops falling out.

Reply

Don't bother.

Unfortunately most GPs don't trust information that comes of the internet and if you go to them with it they will relegate you to the status of believing in crank medicine and will ignore everything you say from then onwards. It doesn't matter if you are actually right with scientific papers and named specialists to back your point of view up. In fact some GPs if you say anything, without knowing your background, will accuse you off or tell you not to believe what you read on the internet.

If you want your GP to do anything e.g. tests, then simply say the advice came from Thyroid UK, a thyroid charity recommended via NHS Choices for those with thyroid disorders. Even then the GP is unlikely to tell you the truth of why s/he won't do a particular test. (If you are treated by a nurse or a nurse practitioner they may tell you the reason.)

The main reason for their refusal is cost as the NHS isn't concerned with getting you in optimal health they are just concerned in getting you above the level of deficiency. (And that is only if they are a decent doctor.) A ferritin level of 50 means you aren't deficient and for some diseases e.g. inherited hemochromatosis that is the maximum they want it to be. It is up to you to get yourself to optimal nutrient levels and when the NHS refuses to help you, you must sort this out and pay for it yourself.

Reply

It’s positive to hear stories where hair did return. I’m sorry to hear some of you have other health issues too- that must be incrediably difficult - I can’t imagine feeling like this and having more to deal with.

I’m going to look into all the other supplements too- b12 and folate Etc. I never knew anything about them before

Thank you so much

Reply

I’ve started taking today 3x 20mg of elemental iron ( gentle iron - iron bisglycinate), 25mg D3 and multi vitamins with b12 100mg, folic acid 399mg, 2000 biotin, 1000mg vitamin c. It has some others too in there. Does anyone else take their levothyroxine at night? I take my birth control pill in the am so need to take the Levo at night. Also makes it easier to take iron throughout the day with the 4 hour gap between Levo and iron.

Reply

You may also like...