Q. I’ve always had healthy hair but since starting the menopause approximately two years ago, it feels a lot thinner and my nails are quite brittle too. What do you recommend?

A. Unfortunately it is quite common for women going through the menopause to notice a marked difference in their hair, nails and skin - and yes, this on top of the night sweats and hot flushes!

Ordinarily the ageing process is relatively gradual but the abrupt hormonal changes that occur during the menopause cause skin to thin and dry more quickly and this is also true for hair and nails.

Nutrients that can help include zinc, biotin and silica. Zinc is found naturally in dairy products, lentils and pumpkin seeds (among other foods) but a supplement combining all three might be more practical.

Collagen and MSM are also important. Collagen is a major structural protein and certainly no stranger to the beauty world, and MSM, although you may associate it more with joint health, is also important for hair, skin and nails. Food sources include milk, meat, fish and most fruit and veg and grains, or again there are several supplements to choose from.

Essential fats (EFAs) can also help. The main contenders are omega-3, found in oily fish and flax seed oil, omega-6, found in starflower oil and hemp and omega-9, which is naturally present in pumpkin seeds.

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