How can I keep my hair, skin and nails healthy?
We often appreciate beauty based on outer appearances, but beauty also happens on the inside. Vitamins, minerals and other key nutrients play an important role in maintaining healthy hair, skin and nails-the outward representation of our beauty within. (1) A healthy diet that includes water, lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and healthy fats (from nuts, vegetable oils and fatty fish) provides essential nutrients for overall health and beauty.
In addition, a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement provides essential nutrients for healthy skin and hair. Essential nutrients are those the body needs but can’t produce enough of on its own, so they have to come from food/supplements? (2)
How can I help my skin stay young?
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)
ALA is an antioxidant that may help improve the look and feel of aging skin when applied to the skin in a cream. (3)
Antioxidants such as vitamins C, E and beta-carotene, and the mineral selenium, help protect skin from aging prematurely. Vitamin C is a key nutrient when it comes to skin health. Not only is it a strong antioxidant that can help prevent damage from prolonged sun exposure, it is also a key ingredient in collagen-an important compound naturally found in the skin that helps maintain the elasticity and integrity of the skin. Be sure to include vitamin C-rich foods, such as citrus fruits and strawberries, in your diet.
Taking vitamin E can also reduce damage from the sun and wrinkles and can improve skin texture. In addition, people who take vitamins C and E in the long run reduce the damage from sunburn. (4)
Green tea is an excellent source of antioxidants. These may play a beneficial role in maintaining healthy skin, even in the presence of UV light from the sun. (3)
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids may help keep your skin smoother and younger-looking. (6) Fatty fish, like salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines, are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Other foods, such as flax, flaxseed oil, walnuts, olive oil and canola oil, contain ALA, which the body converts into omega-3. (7) Nutrients, like beta-carotene and selenium, play a role in skin health, as well. (8)
Many people are able to make enough vitamin D by exposing their face, arms and hands to 10-15 minutes of sunshine, threetimes a week, without the protection of sunscreen. (9) Unfortunately, the use of sunscreen can interfere with the skin’s ability to make vitamin D-critical nutrient involved in bone health and reducing inflammation. (10) It’s also possible to get a moderate amount of vitamin from foods like salmon, tuna and fortified milk. (11) For the many people who don’t get enough vitamin D through their diet, taking a daily vitamin D supplement may be recommended.
Vitamin E is a crucial antioxidant nutrient that helps protect and maintain the integrity of all cells, including skin cells. As a result, getting enough vitamin E in your diet helps promote the health of your skin and cells. Vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and green vegetables. (12)
Zinc may be effective in helping to control acne. (13) Zinc is found in red meat, poultry, beans, nuts and whole-grain foods. (14)
How can I have healthier hair and nails?
Protein in your diet helps promote healthy hair. (15) Nothing can make Your nails grow faster, but aging and problems that affect blood circulation can slow their growth. (16) To prevent dry nails, rub unpolished nails with a moisturizer several times throughout the day and at bedtime. Wear cotton gloves to bed to hold in the moisturizer. (17)
Hair loss or shedding may be a result of not getting enough iron. A blood test at your healthcare provider’s office can show if you are lacking in iron. If you are, your provider is likely to suggest an iron supplement. (18)
Omega-3 fatty acids found in some fish oils can help support healthy skin and scalp and can protect against dry scalp and hair, which gives hair a dull look. (19) Also, dandruff is often linked to dry skin, so an omega 3 fatty acid supplement and a multivitamin may be helpful. (20)
Omega-6 fatty acids
Linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid the body uses to make anti-inflammatory agents. It is found in evening primrose oil, black currant oil and borage oil supplements. (21)
If you don’t get enough B vitamins in your diet, a B-complex or super B-complex supplement may help nourish your hair. Biotin, a B-complex vitamin, can help nails that split, break and peel. Try eating more biotin-rich foods, such as nuts, eggs, salmon, chicken, wheat germ, whole-grain cereals and breads, dairy products and Swiss chard. If your nails are still brittle, speak to your healthcare provider about whether you should take a supplement. (22)
Zinc is a powerful antioxidant, and if you don’t get enough in your diet, it may lead to hair shedding. (23)
|Alpha lipoic acid||20-50 mg per day (24)|
|Biotin (Vitamin B)||30 mcg per day (22)|
|Green Tea||2-3 cups per day (25)|
|Omega-3 fatty acids||500 mg of EPA/DHA per day or two servings of fish per week (Higher amounts may be taken under a healthcare provider’s supervision). (26)|
|Omega-6 fatty acids||Linoleic Acid (Rich source of Omega-6 Fatty Acids) 3-5 g/day. Ask your healthcare provider for dosage guidance. (27)|
|Vitamin D||600-4,000 IU per day for adults (9)|
|Vitamin E||15-1,500 IU per day (from supplements or fortified foods). (28)|