Smorgasbord Health Column – Family Health – Dandruff… Snow on the shoulders by Sally Cronin

Although the focus has been on Covid this last year… there are still other health issues that have not gone away. Many are improved with simple treatments and dietary changes and in this series I am going to look at some of the more common issues.

Dandruff is itchy and uncomfortable and it can also be very noticeable to other people which also makes it embarrassing.


There is nothing worse than a dusting of white and very noticeable dandruff on your dark clothes at work or out with friends. It doesn’t matter how many times you shower or wash your hair you always feel a little unclean and very conscious of how other people will perceive you.

In alternative medicine we treat the body from the inside out rather than in conventional medicine which tends to treat from the inside inwards. For example the conventional treatment for dandruff is usually over the counter anti-dandruff shampoos or if very severe prescribed lotions and shampoos that you have to use on a continuous basis.

If you are working, especially in a very customer orientated businesses then you want to look your best at all times so of course it is a good idea to use one of the several anti-dandruff treatments currently on the market. Get a good quality product and to be honest Head and Shoulders may have been the first but it is still effective. It now comes in a number of formulations, including for coloured hair.

This however is only sticking a plaster on the problem. Our body’s health is dependent on balance.

Our skin is the largest waste organ of the body and is a constant reflection of our internal health.

Our body surface sheds dead skin cells daily and you will shed your entire skin every three to four weeks.

Your scalp, like every other area of skin will also shed dead skin cells but if you think about it, the skin on your scalp is not only affected by our internal health but also to a great deal more punishment than the rest of your skin.

Unfortunately as we get more mature, it is difficult to keep our skin moisturised as the loss of hormones causes thinner and dryer skin.

Look at the shelves full of hair products and those available in hair salons and the heated appliances we subject our hair and scalp to.

  • colour treatments (bleach and ammonia),
  • highlights (bleach and ammonia),
  • shampoo,
  • conditioner,
  • hair gels,
  • wax.
  • hairspray etc.
  • hairdryers,
  • curling tongs
  • hair straighteners.

Daily washing and conditioning combined with the use of these heated appliances is very drying and damaging to the scalp and therefore a leading cause of flaky skin.

In our home and work environments we are subjected to central heating or air conditioning that dries out our skin.

Combine this with stress and a poor diet full of sugars, hydrogenated fats and white starchy carbohydrates and lacking in the basic nutrients for our body to work efficiently and you have skin problems.

Internal causes of Dandruff

It is no coincidence that children rarely suffer from dandruff and that it is more common from puberty onwards. Hormonal imbalances are often responsible for many of the teenage skin problems such as acne and throughout our lives if our diet does not support our hormone production we will suffer from conditions such as dandruff.

Being dehydrated causes over dry skin as does a diet low in the good fats such as Omega 3 and 6.

There is another cause for dandruff and that is linked to Candida Albicans.

Candida is a fungal parasite that thrives on yeast and sugar. We all have it in a benign form but if you have a poor diet and have taken many courses of prescribed medication such as antibiotics, it can overgrow and cause a great many internal and external symptoms.

For example, other than an itchy scalp you might also be experiencing itchy ears, dry and scratchy throat, lower back pain, frequent thrush infections etc.

Plan of Action

Try to avoid washing and drying your hair daily. I realise that it is important to look groomed for work or special occasions, but it is harmful to use chemicals and heated appliances too frequently. If you have longer hair, try to vary the styles so that you can wear it up for a couple of days so that you are only washing your hair a couple of times a week.

If your hair is shorter try using the old fashioned rollers to give your hair body and leave them in for a half hour rather than use curling tongs or a hair dryer.

If your body is in a state of imbalance you are unlikely to be metabolizing food efficiently leading to a lack of nutrients needed by the body to maintain health in general and as I have mentioned already this will be reflected in the health of your skin.

One set of vitamins that can be associated with skin problems and in particular dandruff is B vitamins. 

B-Vitamins are found in whole grains and animal protein. There is a trend today to exclude carbohydrates which includes nutritionally important whole grains, and more people are becoming vegatarian or vegan.

Whole grains: – Brown rice, whole or multigrain breads, Ryvita and rice cakes, whole grain pasta and cereals such as porridge oats, Weetabix etc.

Vitamin B6 is a key nutrient with regard to hormonal imbalances and is also important for skin health and I would suggest that apart from a high quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement you take B6 in addition.

Here are the B-Vitamins and the foods that provide them.

  • Vitamin B1 – Pineapple, watermelon, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, oats, brown rice, lentils, beans, eggs, lean ham and pork.
  • B2 – All green leafy vegetables, fish, milk, wheat germ, liver and kidney
  • B3 Asparagus, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, wholegrain bread and cereals. Turkey, Salmon, tuna, and cheese.
  • B5 Corn, Cauliflower, Brewer’s yeast, avocado, duck, soybeans, lobster and strawberries.
  • B6 – Walnuts, bananas, lamb
  • B9 (folate) – nuts, beans and dark green vegetables.
  • B12– offal, dairy, marmite,

In addition to keep your scalp (and the rest of your skin) hydrated from the inside you need healthy fats and this includes some animal fat.

Nuts and seeds – to put on your cereal in the mornings or as snacks – check prices out in your health food shop as well as supermarket. Almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts.

Food, Butter, Table, Milk, Dairy Product


Dairy and Eggs Milk, butter and cheese (better to have the real stuff than whipped margarine) – yoghurt. Free Range Eggs – have at least three or four a week.

Oils – Extra virgin Olive Oil (least processed) – great drizzled on vegetables with some seasoning and also eaten the Spanish way with balsamic vinegar on salads and also drizzled over toasted fresh bread. If you do not like the taste of Olive Oil then use Sunflower oil or coconut oil– do not use the light version of any oil as it has been processed heavily – use the good stuff.

Animal Proteins: –  Beef, chicken, cod, eggs, halibut, lamb, liver, milk, salmon, shrimp, tuna, turkey, low fat yoghurt.

Here is a complete shopping list that you can save and print which contains the foods that provide all the nutrients the body needs to be healthy: Weekly Grocery List – Nutrients and foods

Person, Man, Woman, People, Couple


If you are in a sedentary job, rarely getting fresh air and sunshine your body becomes static. Toxins build up and this will be reflected in your skin condition. Try to get out in the fresh air for a 20 minute brisk walk daily.

Do remember that your scalp is first point of contact for rays of the sun and sunburn can also result in dry flaky skin. Wear a hat when possible and if you do go out without a covering add some sunscreen particularly if you are bald… or through your hair as that can always be washed out later.

I hope this has been helpful and please feel free to share. Thanks Sally

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2021