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My hair is thinner since the birth of my daughter. Is there anything that might help?

A HAIR loss can be triggered by anything that involves a change in the oestrogen hormone balance in your system so it's very common for women to experience hair loss in the first few months after giving birth.

Thankfully, hair growth generally returns to its regular cycle within six months, so try not to fret too much over it.

In relation to diet there are certain vitamins and minerals that are particularly beneficial in promoting and stimulating hair growth and keeping hair follicles healthy. They include protein, iron, zinc, silica and B vitamins.

Adequate protein intake is essential for hair growth, as hair is made up of protein. Make sure to include one portion of protein with every meal and snack. Sources of animal protein include meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy. Try to include vegetable sources of protein into the diet as well such as beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. All of the above mentioned foods are also good sources of iron and zinc which are two minerals essential for healthy hair.

A diet that contains whole foods, particularly the outer skin of vegetables such as potatoes, cucumbers, peppers and sprouts can give strength to hair because they are rich in the mineral silica which is a major structural component of hair.

B vitamins are also vital to the well-being of your hair, so make sure to eat plenty of whole grains and at least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily.

If the problem persists consider consulting with a trichologist.

QI'm having friends over for drinks at the end of the month. Two of my guests are vegetarians, could you recommend some tasty vegetarian finger food?

AI'd suggest making a spicy lentil dip for your vegetarian friends. It's super tasty and nutritious as well as being a cinch to make.

Start by putting 125g of red lentils into a saucepan with 400ml water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for around 25 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and mash with a fork.

In a pan fry one small onion in 25g of organic butter until soft. Add one tablespoon of curry powder and cook for a further two minutes. Add the mashed lentils into the pan, season and stir the mixture together. Allow to cool, then transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with lots of fresh coriander. Serve with toasted strips of wholemeal pita bread or vegetable crudites.

If you prefer a smooth texture, you can blend the lentil mixture in a food processor. If the dip is a bit dry, just add a tablespoon of water.

Elsa Jones is a nutritional herapist and presenter of How Healthy are You? on TV3. Elsa offers one-to-one consultations to meet your individual health requirements. www.elsajonesnutrition.ie