9 Foods That Cause Hair Loss

Medically reviewedby Dr. Amy Revene M.B.B.S.
WrittenbyLuat Duong
Last updated

What if the secret to healthy hair didn't lie solely in the magic of hair products but also the harmony of our meals? 

While food is a vital source of nutrition, fueling our body's myriad functions, it's crucial to understand that not all edibles champion the cause of our hair health. 

Surprisingly, some seemingly harmless items on our plates may be the arch-nemeses of our lustrous locks.

By gaining insight into the culinary culprits that can trigger hair loss, you'll be empowered to craft your meals more mindfully. 

Brace yourself as we explore foods that some believe could be linked to hair health.

Which foods cause hair loss?

foods that cause hair loss, fried foods, hair fall problems

While it's not that certain foods single-handedly orchestrate hair loss, the intricacies of diet and hair health are interwoven in a way that demands our attention. 

The food we consume and our dietary habits combine a symphony in our hair health.

Illuminate your understanding, and empower yourself to create a diet that champions the vitality of your lustrous locks. 

Read on, and let's together uncover food's role in the tale of your tresses.

1. High-mercury fish

Eating fish like swordfish, mackerel, and certain types of tuna in large quantities can lead to hair loss due to their high mercury content.

Mercury is a toxic element that can cause damage at a cellular level, specifically targeting the hair follicle, a critical structure in the hair growth process.

This damage can disrupt normal hair growth, leading to hair thinning and loss. At the same time, it's important to get the health benefits of fish, which are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

A study from 2013 referenced by the National Library of Medicine highlights that the health risks associated with methylmercury in fish are a subject of ongoing research. 

Essentially, the issue stems from the way mercury interacts with other trace minerals within our body, primarily zinc.

2. Sugar

avoid sugar for making hair healthy

Excessive sugar intake can lead to impaired blood circulation, which poses significant challenges to nourishing your hair follicles

When blood circulation is compromised, essential nutrients in the bloodstream struggle to reach the hair follicles, leading to potential hair health and growth issues.

A high sugar intake can lead to scalp inflammation in the body. This inflammation can affect many body functions, including hair growth

Additionally, sugar hampers the absorption of proteins, which are critical for hair growth since hair is primarily made of protein. 

Also, foods rich in sugar or those with a high glycemic index - foods that the body metabolizes into sugar - can induce spikes in blood sugar levels. 

A study from 2023 shows the association between sugar-sweetened beverages and male pattern hair loss in young men.

3.  Dietary deficiencies

When our diet fails to provide essential nutrients, it can result in weakened hair follicles, disruption of the hair growth cycle, and ultimately hair loss.

Iron deficiency is one of the most common dietary deficiencies leading to hair loss, even conditions like female pattern baldness. Iron aids in producing hair cell protein, and a lack of it can disrupt this process, causing hair loss.

Similarly, protein deficiencies can also lead to hair loss. Hair is primarily made of protein, and without enough, the body cannot replace the hairs we naturally shed each day. 

Additionally, vitamin deficiencies, such as vitamin D and B, can also lead to hair loss. 

4.  Alcohol

foods that cause hair loss

Alcohol affects hair health in several ways, and its regular consumption can harm optimal hair health. 

Firstly, it can lead to dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which encourages the body to lose more water than it takes in. This dehydration can extend to your hair, making it more brittle and prone to breakage

This impacts the absorption and utilization of essential nutrients. It can interfere with the absorption of iron, zinc, and vitamins vital for maintaining healthy hair. 

Furthermore, alcohol can also disrupt hormonal balance. It can increase estrogen levels and decrease zinc levels in the body, leading to hair loss. 

A study from 2023 suggests that alcohol consumption may be associated with the immunological risk of alopecia aerate.

5. Vitamin A overdose  

Excessive intake of vitamin A can lead to various problems, one of them being hair loss, which could also contribute to female pattern baldness. 

Excess vitamin A can cause hair follicles to go into overdrive, pushing them into the shedding phase of the hair growth cycle faster than normal. 

This accelerated cycle may make the hair thinner and fall out more rapidly. 

The hair follicles do not get enough time to grow new hair before they are pushed into the shedding phase again, resulting in noticeable hair loss.

In 2018 a study was conducted on a  60-year-old male who had been ingesting an excessive quantity of vitamin A supplements and manifested non-scarring front-central alopecia, a form of hair loss predominantly affecting the front and centre of the scalp.

6. Refined carbs

Refined carbs, such as those found in sugary treats, white bread, pasta, and other processed foods, have been stripped of most of their fibre, vitamins, and minerals.

Refined carbs, including many sugary foods, cause a rapid spike in blood sugar and insulin levels. 

This leads to an increase in androgen production, a hormone that can cause hair follicles to shrink in both men and women, leading to thinning hair and hair fall. 

Also, refined carbs lack essential nutrients needed for hair growth. Hair is primarily made of protein, and without enough protein and other nutrients, your body may struggle to produce new hair to replace the ones that naturally shed each day.

A diet high in refined carbs can lead to inflammation and oxidative stress. Both of these factors can damage hair follicles, leading to hair loss.

7. Junk food 

junk food cause hair loss

Junk foods, common foods that cause hair fall, typically have a high content of refined sugars, unhealthy fats, and sodium while low in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients vital for preserving hair health.

They often lack necessary components such as proteins, vitamins A, C, D and E, B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, and biotin, which are all crucial for maintaining healthy hair and scalp. 

The lack of these nutrients can weaken hair follicles, disrupt the hair growth cycle, and ultimately lead to thinning hair and hair loss. 

A particular study deduced that consuming junk food adversely affects hair health, primarily due to the overstimulation of sebaceous glands.

Furthermore, junk food consumption can also lead to various health issues that indirectly contribute to hair loss. 

For example, diets high in junk food can contribute to inflammation, hormonal imbalances, and oxidative stress, which can negatively impact hair growth

8. Carbonated drinks and soda

Carbonated drinks and sodas, often laden with high amounts of sugar, can lead to an imbalance in blood sugar levels, contributing to hair fall problems. 

The resulting insulin spikes can induce the overproduction of androgen, a hormone which, when in excess, can cause hair follicles to contract, leading to hair thinning and loss. 

The elevated sugar content in these drinks can incite inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Both these conditions can negatively impact hair follicles, inhibiting their capacity to maintain healthy hair growth.

These beverages often contain ingredients like phosphoric acid and caffeine. Phosphoric acid can hinder the body's absorption of vital nutrients like calcium, essential for hair health. 

9. Dairy products

dairy products cause hair loss

Consuming dairy products could potentially contribute to hair loss in some individuals, mainly through two mechanisms: hormonal effects and individual intolerance or allergic reactions.

The first mechanism involves hormones present in dairy products. Dairy products, especially those derived from cows, contain hormones like DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which is an androgen. 

The My Plate guidelines from the US Department of Agriculture recommend that adults ingest three servings of dairy products daily.

This hormone can trigger hair loss in men and women genetically predisposed to androgenetic alopecia, a common form of hair fall

These individuals have hair follicles that are sensitive to DHT, and exposure to this hormone causes them to shrink, reducing their lifespan and eventually leading to hair loss.

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Which foods are good for hair growth?

foods for hair growth

A diet rich in specific nutrients can support hair growth, especially if you're experiencing hair loss due to poor nutrition. 

Several foods benefit hair growth because they contain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients essential for hair health. Here are some of them:

  • Eggs: Eggs are a great source of protein and biotin, promoting hair growth and are important for hair health. Hair follicles are mostly protein; hence a deficiency can lead to hair loss.
  • Berries: Fresh fruits like strawberries and blueberries contain beneficial compounds and vitamins, such as vitamin C, that can support hair growth. Vitamin C has strong antioxidant properties and helps protect hair follicles against damage from harmful called free radicals.
  • Spinach and other leafy green vegetables: These nutrient-dense foods are loaded with beneficial elements like folate, iron, and vitamins A and C, which can help prevent male pattern baldness and promote hair growth. Vitamin A helps the skin glands produce sebum, which moisturizes the scalp and helps keep hair healthy.
  • Fatty fish: Fish like salmon, herring, and mackerel are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to improved hair growth and density.
  • Sweet potatoes: They are a great source of beta-carotene. The body converts this compound into vitamin A, which is linked to good hair health.
  • Avocados: Rich in vitamin E, avocados can provide the necessary moisture and strength to the hair. They are also a great source of essential fatty acids, which appear crucial for hair growth.
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, flaxseeds, and chia seeds provide various nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins, that promote hair growth and thickness. Also, prevent hair loss.
  • Oysters: They're one of the best food sources of zinc, which aids the hair growth and repair cycle. A low-protein diet or a diet deficient in zinc may promote telogen effluvium, a common but reversible form of alopecia caused by nutrient deficiencies.


While we often attribute hair health to external care and products, it's essential to remember that what we consume also plays a significant role. 

Certain foods, while appearing harmless or beneficial in some respects, can contribute to hair loss due to their nutritional content or the body's reactions to them.

High-mercury fish, excessive sugar, nutrient deficiencies, alcohol, vitamin A overdose, refined carbs, junk food, carbonated drinks, and dairy products can all potentially impact hair health negatively.

On the other hand, incorporating nutrient-rich foods such as eggs, berries, spinach, fatty fish, sweet potatoes, avocados, nuts, seeds, and oysters into your diet can help promote hair growth. 

Awareness and knowledge about the potential impact of different foods on hair health can empower us to make informed dietary choices. 

A balanced diet, adequate hydration, and a healthy lifestyle can go a long way in maintaining lustrous, healthy hair.


  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16973445/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9824121/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8835065/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6380979/#CR15
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2956962/
  6. https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/dairy

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Luat Duong

Luat Duong is a Copenhagen-based writer and content strategist specializing in hair loss and health. His work has been featured in MyHealthGuide, The Right Hairstyles, and Woman's Era. He is a graduate of Vaasa University. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.