I'm a hair and scalp expert – these eight diet bloopers are causing your hair loss

If eyes are the window to our soul, hair is the window to our health – and specifically to the state of our nutrition. What we eat has a profound impact on our hair’s growth and quality.

That’s because it is a very needy but ultimately dispensable tissue, made up of the second-fastest dividing cells in our body, so its energy requirements are great.

As it serves no purpose – if all your hair fell out, everything else about you would function as normal – our body doesn’t prioritise its needs, sending nutrients to keep our heart and nervous system functioning.

“The most common cause of excessive daily hair loss in my clients is not eating a healthy, balanced and varied diet,” says consultant ­trichologist Anabel Kingsley.

“Everyone’s nutritional ­requirements are different – what we need depends on activity levels, weight, sex, menstrual cycle, metabolism and our ability to absorb certain nutrients well. That said, these are the biggest mistakes I see people make:

Skipping breakfast

“I always ask clients to run through a typical day and often breakfast only consists of coffee,” says Anabel. “But after 10 or more hours fasting, every cell needs nourishment. Already last on your body’s priority list, skipping breakfast means lunch will fuel essential tissue, so hair loses out.”

Not knowing the vegan ground rules

“I commonly see problems with hair growth and quality when someone doesn’t research ­plant-based diets before starting one. Vegans should supplement with vitamin B12, which is only naturally found in animal products, as a lack causes excessive hair shedding. Also, iron and zinc are less bioavailable in plant-based foods and deficiencies in either cause hair loss, so it’s wise to supplement and have annual blood tests to monitor levels.”

Skipping vitamin D

“Vitamin D deficiency is common, particularly in winter, and has a significant impact on the hair growth cycle and scalp health. The NHS recommends supplementing with 10mcg per day between October and April.”

Being low in iron

“The most common cause of excessive hair shedding and it not growing beyond a certain length in ­menstruating women is ferritin (stored iron) deficiency,” explains Anabel. “Ferritin is essential in keratin production, so eat iron-rich foods like red meat and dried apricots regularly, alongside vitamin C to aid ­absorption. That said, even avid meat eaters can have ferritin deficiency, especially if you have heavy periods. Supplementing with iron, vitamin C and L-lysine, which helps the body store iron, can be helpful.”

Extreme dieting

“Rapid weight loss and vastly restricting calorie and nutrient intake almost always causes hair loss because, as we’ve said, hair is last in the nutrient pecking order.”

Not eating enough protein

“Hair is primarily made of a protein called keratin. A lack of dietary protein can cause strands to become weak and brittle, so try to include a palm-sized portion of a protein such as cottage cheese, lean meats, quinoa, eggs, beans and oily fish with all your meals.

“If you struggle, a daily protein supplement like our Density Amino Acid (£32; can help.”

Cutting carbs and healthy fats

“If proteins are building blocks, complex carbs are the builders, providing slow and easily accessible energy to make hair cells. Include a portion with each meal – wholegrain toast, potatoes with skin-on, couscous, brown rice or pasta. Healthy fats found in oily fish, nuts, avocado and olive oil are necessary for scalp health.”

Relying on pills

“While I’ve talked about the importance of ­supplements, they’re not magic pills. They only help if you’re also eating well, otherwise their nutrients will be used on essential cells,” says Anabel. “Additionally, supplements only help if they address a need – if you aren’t low on iron, taking a pill won’t boost growth.”


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