One of the blood tests I order in almost every female patient who requires blood work is a ferritin screening test; this test reflects a person’s iron stores and picks up even subtly decreased levels. You don’t have to be overtly anemic to be low in iron (monthly blood loss and not eating enough iron-rich foods can be key contributors); many women feel vaguely tired and foggy-brained, and aren’t aware that their iron stores are low. Low ferritin levels are also tied to hair loss. For optimal hair health, specialists recommend that women use iron supplements to get their levels up to at least 40 mcg/L. Too much iron can be toxic, though, so don’t take supplements without having blood tests first.
Food sources of iron: Clams, chicken liver, mussels, shrimp, beef, quinoa