Scalp psoriasis and seborrhoeic dermatitis are common conditions that affect the scalp, causing dry, flaky skin and redness.
A dry scalp in turn lacks oil to moisturize the hair. Nutritional shortfalls, including a lack of healthy fats, can contribute to dry, stringy hair.
Eat healthy proteins to strengthen hair and a range of colourful fruit and vegetables for antioxidants and vitamins A and C, which boost sebum production to condition hair.
This contains a range of skin-nourishing nutrients. The iron content in particular supports red blood cells, enabling them to carry oxygen to the hair follicles.
Key nutrients: Vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, and E, folate, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium.
How to eat: Have a generous handful of fresh spinach, or a small handful of cooked spinach each day.
Nuts are naturally high in selenium, an important mineral for scalp health. Walnuts contain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which are anti-inflammatory and help reduce dry, scaly skin; they also support the structure and function of hair cells. Other nuts such as Brazil nuts also supply selenium.
Key nutrients: B vitamins (including folate), vitamin E, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, selenium.
How to eat: Have a handful of walnuts 3–4 times a week as a snack, or add to meals.
This provides vitamin A, needed by the body to make sebum, the oily substance secreted by the sebaceous glands that is a natural scalp conditioner.
Key nutrients: Carotenoids, B vitamins, vitamins A, C, and E, potassium.
How to eat: Add a handful of chopped parsley leaves and stems to salads and meals.
Oily fish such as sardines, trout, and salmon provide omega-3, protein, vitamin B12, and iron, all essential nutrients for a healthy scalp and hair.
Key nutrients: Omega-3, vitamin B12 and D, iron.
How to eat: Try to eat a 150g (51⁄2oz) portion of oily fish 2–3 times a week.
These are a great source of plant-based omega-3 fats, essential to support a healthy scalp and hair.
Key nutrients: Omega-3, vitamin B1, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium.
How to eat: Sprinkle 1 tbsp on porridge or in a smoothie daily.