The 6 Things That Increase The Odds Of Female Hair Loss (Interview With Sara Gottfried, MD)

by Jackie Wicks

Dr. Sara: Yeah, eat some more grass-fed, red meat. So let’s up-level the prescription here. What would be helpful is just to share with you the way about the root causes. This isn’t an exhaustive list. I’m going to give you a simplified version of it. Some of you might be saying, “Thank goodness.”

The idea here here is that I want to go with, how does the 80-20 rule apply here? How do you really figure out the most common reasons why you have increased hair loss, and really address those first, so that you can be efficient about taking care of this. The number one root cause I see is related to the red meat.

It’s low ferritin, low iron in your system. There’s a number of ways to measure this. You can ask your doctor for a blood test, where you measure your iron and you measure your ferritin. Ferritin is the most sensitive way to measure how much iron you have running around in your body.

Not surprisingly, because you’ve heard this mantra from me before, when it comes to iron, you don’t want too much and you don’t want too little. When it comes to the numbers, I can give you some general information about that. You want a ferritin of around 70 to 80 to hang on to the hair on your head. When it’s too high, that can be a problem, and when it’s lower, that’s an issue.

You want a ferritin of at least 40 to be able to create new hairs to replace the ones that you might have lost. Those are some general numbers of ferritin. Of course, I’m oversimplifying. There’s other things that can affect ferritin besides your iron levels. But that’s a general guide.

That’s the number one root cause. What I found, for instance, with my own hair loss, was that it was a combination of these different root causes. It’s very common for women to have borderline thyroid function together with low iron. That was my own story.

In fact, the next question that we got, I just want to read another part of it because it just really spoke to me. This is a woman who says, “I’m 55 and menopausal. I’ve been taking good supplements and overhauled my nutrition, except for some trouble sleeping.” Oh, OK. Sorry, let me read that again. “Except for some trouble sleeping, I feel pretty good.”

“But the hair loss I’ve had over the past year is really upsetting. I ordered a three month supply of Viviscal, and want to know if I’m heading in the right direction. I’ve had my thyroid tested, but my doctor says it’s in the normal range, 2.865. She didn’t want to test my adrenals because she said that she’s never seen a problem with adrenal tests, but she didn’t offer any other solutions to my hair loss. I need a new doctor.”

What I wanted to pull out of this woman’s story is a couple of highlights. One is, first of all, I don’t think there’s one magic treatment. I can’t tell you the latest research on this Viviscal that she mentioned. I haven’t done research on it. I don’t know what the latest is. Maybe it’s some fantastic formula.

But I can tell you, we’ve been trying to figure out what causes hair loss and how to correct it for decades, so I don’t think it’s the magic treatment. It might be a really effective treatment for certain root causes. Maybe at some point in the future we can talk a little more about Viviscal when I’ve had a chance to do the serious research that I like to do before I give an opinion.

Second of all, I love that this woman shared with us her thyroid results, the 2.865. Now, what I assume she means is that this number is her TSH, her Thyroid Stimulating Hormone level, which is the screening test that most conventional doctors will run when they’re checking out your thyroid.

Now, we know from a lot of research on the thyroid, and we talked about a lot of that research during our Hormone Reset course together, we know that, if your thyroid is totally normal, ideally your TSH is somewhere between about 0.3 and 2.5. In fact, there’s a number of endocrinology groups who agree with that.

If you want a more optimal range, I even like to run it a little tighter. I like to see it between 0.1 and 1.5. I just find that women feel their best, they’re able to have that sense of buoyancy with their mood, their hair stays on their head, they feel like they can really serve on whatever calling they have, when their THS is in that range..

Now some women can’t tolerate such a tight range, so even if we use this more conventional standard of 0.3 to 2.5, this woman is out of range. With 2.865, she is above that 2.5 cut off. One of the problems here is that in conventional medicine the lab that gives you the range for TSH is using a range for 95 percent of the population that’s tested.

As you probably know by now, many women have either borderline or completely underactive thyroids, so that 95 percent range doesn’t mean a lot. What I’m more interested in is what’s the optimal range? What is the thyroid level that really makes you feel your best and helps that hair stay on your head?

I can’t give medical advice as you know, but I just wanted to mention that if I had a woman in my practice who had hair loss and a TSH of 2.865, I would say, “Let’s talk about some of the ways to improve your thyroid function.”

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