Common reasons of Hair Fall or Hair Loss in Indian Women – Anemia in Focus

Common reasons of Hair Fall or Hair Loss in Indian Women – Anemia in Focus


Hello everyone, today I have a much requested article to write. I have had people asking me a number of times about hair loss or hair fall. I am going to talk about certain medical reasons as well since I am a certified medical practitioner and I do have patients coming to me for the same often. I have been doing an off paper research into it for a couple of weeks now because I wanted to give you guys a proper insight into the various causes of hair fall and increase awareness about the same. Please educate your family and friends about what you are going to read here. I am going to explain everything in a very simple language and try to stay away from medical terms as much as possible so that everyone can understand.

The first and the foremost thing I want you to keep in your mind is The DIET. Diet pattern in India is completely different from rest of the world. There are more vegetarians living in India than any other single country. Mostly due to religious reasons or their culture/tradition. It has been shown in some research articles that vegetarians suffer more hair loss than the people who follow a non vegetarian diet. If you are a vegetarian, you don’t have to turn yourself into a non vegetarian. You need to learn to eat proper nutrient rich food which can supplement what your body needs. Non vegetarian diet is rich in animal derived proteins and other nutrients which are easily digestible.

Most people in India eat food for taste, I say today onwards, start eating for your health!

It does not matter if you are a vegetarian or a non vegetarian. Following a correct diet pattern in accordance to either is important. I am not going to give you guys a lecture on what to eat and what not to eat because I want to stay focussed on the reasons of hair fall. We can cover that up may be in another article.

So here I am going to talk about the most common reason. Out of all the people having complaints of hairfall, most suffer with this, mostly women.



What is Anemia?

According to one of the textbooks I read, Anemia is defined as the qualitative or quantitative diminution of RBC and/ or haemoglobin concentration in relation to standard age, sex and clinically manifested by pallor.

Symptoms of Anemia

Weakness, Fatigue, Lassitude, Light headedness, Giddiness, Syncope, Anorexia, Palpitations, breathlessness, Insomnia, lack of concentration, menstrual irregularities



Check yourself if you might have Anemia – Basic Signs of Anemia

The most common and easiest way to check if you have anemia is,
Look at your lower palpebral conjunctive. Does it appear extra pale?
Look at your tongue, does it appear very pale?
Look at your nails, do they appear very white?

It has been shown that the Prevalence of Anemia, specifically Iron Deficiency Anemia is high among Indian women. The reasons are as follows:

1. Dietary Deficiency
2. Unchecked blood Loss during the menstruation period – Menorrhagia
3. Frequent Child birth
4. Increased demand of iron during periods like adolescence, pregnancy, childbirth and lactation
5. Intergeneration Cycle of Undernutrition
6. Medical Causes

Lets go through them one by one.

1. Dietary Deficiency

Yes, it is the single most important cause for hair loss among women. Remember, what you eat is what shows on your body. Diet deficient in Iron and mineral containing food is the culprit. We Indians cook and fry the food so much that it literally destroys most nutrients in the food.

At this point of time, you must have a question in mind. Why not the men then? They eat the same food as we women do!!
Answer is, women require more Iron than men. Unlike men, women go through a natural process of Menstrual cycle every month which results in blood loss. In fact, women need more than double the amount of iron which men need on a daily basis. Women of childbearing age need at least 18 to 20 mg of iron everyday while men can get away with a daily requirement of mere 8 to 10 mg.

You Might be eating Iron rich food BUT not getting the benefit out of it, Why?

The reason is, absorption. First of all, plant sources of Iron are difficult to absorb in our body. But we can do something about it. Lets see, iron needs a low pH environment to absorb properly into our system. By low pH I mean, foods rich in food acids such as citric acid and Vitamin C. So if you eat your iron rich food in combination with citrus foods, you can increase the iron absorption in your system. Some of the very good sources of vitamin C to consider are bell peppers, citrus fruits, broccoli, berries, cantaloupe, tomatoes, and leafy greens. Of course, Amla or Indian gooseberry tops the list.

Besides Iron, other nutrients such as B group of vitamins specially vitamin B 12 and B 7 play a very important role. Folic acid is another extremely important ingredient which you need to include in your diet. Both of these can be found in significant amounts in dairy food items.

Instead of pleasing our tongue, can we start pleasing our entire body, aye?

so today onwards, try to eat healthy nutritious diet. Avoid overcooking the food and eat foods in proper combinations. There are enough articles on the internet, read about it and educate yourself for a healthy diet plan.

2. Unchecked blood Loss during the menstruation period – Menorrhagia

Menorrhagia Definition

“Menorrhagia can be defined as a complaint of heavy cyclical menstrual blood loss over
several consecutive menstrual cycles in a woman of reproductive years, or more
objectively, a total menstrual blood loss of more than 80 ml per menstruation (Hallberg et
al, 1966) ”

Now the question is, how do we know how much is 80 ml, quite practically no one can measure it accurately. I will give you a rough estimate, if you are soaking more than 3-4 pads per day specially on days other than the first 2 days of the cycle, you probably have menorrhagia. The next step is, pick up your phone and set an appointment with a gynaecologist right now. You cannot treat menorrhagia by sitting at home and reading internet solutions. Conditions which need a doctor cannot be managed by hit and trial methods. There are books written over “Menorrhagia” which none but only good gynaecologists must have read. Doctors know it better than internet. A doctor will evaluate YOU as a person considering signs and symptoms in you and not in general. Whereas internet articles are written for everyone, they do not keep your specific health conditions in focus. So promise me, you are going to stop being shy, and be a smart confident women – see your doctor today!


3. Frequent Child Birth

Frequent childbirth rates have decreased to a very low level but still it prevails in India. Specially among women of lower socio economic levels. But thanks to some amazing government programs, the rate has declined to a respectable level and I pray it drops to zero. The gap between subsequent pregnancies must at least be 2.5 to 3 years. Remember, the child derives its nutrition from the mother. So if you don’t give your body sufficient time to replenish all the lost nutrients, your body will start becoming weaker.

4. Increased Demand of Iron

When a girl starts having her periods, the iron demands start increasing in the body due to blood loss. So throughout the physiological child bearing age which is considered roughly 15 to 45 years, the iron demands of a female body is more. I have explained above in point No. 1 about it already.

5. Intergeneration Cycle of Undernutrition

I will explain this in a very basic way.
An undernourished mother will give birth to an undernourished female child who will further grow up to be undernourished mother and the cycle thus continues. Undernutrition puts women at a greater risk of pregnancy related complications such as obstructed labor and hemorrhage. Obstructed labour results in increased operative interference ( Caesarean Section) and thus more blood loss.

Did you know, the blood loss in a normal delivery is much less than Blood loss during a C section!

6. Medical Causes

Last but not the least, medical causes are of course a very important cause of anemia. The causes can be
Bleeding Peptic Ulcers (Gastric and duodenal ulcers most commonly)
Gastric Erosions by NSAIDs (over use of pain killer drugs such as used for headache, bodyache etc)
Hookworm infestation
Malabsorption Syndromes
Bleeding Haemorrhoids
Anemia of Chronic Diseases ( such as chronic infections, collagen vascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, Malignancy, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Uraemia, Endocrine disorders, Liver disorders)
Genetic Causes

If you suspect any of the above mentioned conditions, go and see your family doctor today. Remember, internet must not be used to treat yourself. You can read about everything and then go see your doctor, ask him questions if you want to, but do not try treating yourself at home for uncommon illnesses.

I hope this article has given you some better clarity about anemia and its causes. Mostly I am focussing on hair fall. Because anemia is one of the most common causes of hairfall.

For reference,

Anemia in women is when Haemoglobin falls below 9 or 10 mg/dl. Normal range of Hb being 9 to 12 mg/dl.

I am going to do a series about the causes of hairfall in Indian women. Make sure you identify your cause correctly.

Image credits and sources 1, 2, 3

One Response

  1. Sanju October 1, 2014

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