What are the benefits of hair, skin and nail vitamins?
Published April 13, 2021
Aside from affecting our outward appearance, there are vitamins for hair, skin and nails that can help to ensure they maintain their health and strength. Whether it’s brittle hair, dry or lacklustre skin or cracked nails, the state of our hair, skin and nails can often be a reflection of our inner health. By increasing your nutrient intake through a healthy diet you will give your hair, skin and nails the best chance to be at their best. But what are the best hair, skin and nail supplements you ask? We outline the nutrients you need for hair growth, skin and nails below.
Which key hair, skin and nail nutrients does my body need?
If you’re lacking in any of the following nutrients for hair, skin and nails it may compromise their overall health and strength.
Biotin — Biotin is classified as a B vitamin and maintains and supports hair health.
Amino acids — One of the main structural components of hair, skin and nails is a specialised protein known as keratin. To build keratin the body needs amino acids including cysteine. There are unsubstantiated claims that cysteine may assist with the normal growth rate of hair and help to reduce the effects of skin aging on the skin. Other unsubstantiated claims are that cysteine may help with wound healing after surgery or burns.
However, cysteine plays a key role in creating collagen. It affects the elasticity of our skin and texture. We can obtain amino acids (AAs) singularly or in combinations from food sources, multivitamins and food supplements, which can come in the form of powders, tablets and fluids. By eating enough protein foods, we get all the AAs we need.
Zinc — Zinc helps to maintain healthy connective tissue and skin. We cannot make zinc on our own so we rely on dietary sources to obtain it.
High zinc foods include meat, fish and poultry as well as cereals and dairy foods which can also contain zinc.
Silica — Hair, skin and nails are rich in silicon, which helps to provide elasticity and strength to these structures. On the skin, silicon plays an important role in synthesising collagen which is important for elasticity and strength of the skin. In hair, it is proposed that having greater silicon content results in reduced hair loss and increased brightness. In nails, they are predominately made up of silicon.
Vitamin C — Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of collagen, a structural protein that is essential to strengthen, support and give elasticity to the skin. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant and may assist with skin defense and repair mechanisms.
High Vitamin C foods include citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, red and green capsicums, kiwifruit, broccoli and strawberries.
Lysine — The amino acid lysine also plays an important role in the formation of collagen. It is an essential amino acid, meaning we cannot make it ourselves, so we need to obtain it from dietary sources. It is found mainly in meat, fish and eggs.
Vitamin E — Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that is important for the maintenance of healthy skin. It specifically plays a role in reducing the risk of UV‐induced free radical skin damage. We can obtain vitamin E from fats and oils, as well as some vegetables including spinach and broccoli, sunflower seed, almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts.
How to promote hair growth and thickness
Just like your waistline and skin, there are vitamins for hair growth and thickness to ensure your locks look their best.
Omega 3 fatty acids play a role in hair health because they are a small part of the overall composition of a hair strand. Omega 3 fatty acids support general health and wellbeing. Sources include fish oil supplements, fatty fish like salmon, as well as avocado and walnuts.
Protein is also important for healthy hair. Be sure to eat high-quality plant and animal protein sources including meat, fish, eggs, yoghurt, milk, cheese, tofu, beans and legumes.
How to promote skin health
Vitamin A, C, D as well as carotenoids (derivatives of Vitamin A like β-carotene, astaxanthin, lycopene and retinol) play an important role in your skin health.
You can obtain these nutrients from consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables including red fruits and vegetables, citrus fruits, guava, chili pepper, fatty fish, eggs yolk, foods fortified with Vitamin D.
Research suggests that fruit and vegetable consumption may likely be the safest and healthiest way of maintaining a balanced diet and skin that appears youthful.
There are also three other simple steps you can take to look after your skin which includes keeping your skin clean, wearing at least SPF 30 sunscreen every day and looking after your skin with moisturiser if it is dry.
How to promote healthy nails
If you have weak, breakage‐prone nails, research suggests that:
- There is not sufficient evidence to support the use of vitamin supplementation to improve nail health of healthy populations with vitamin E, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin A, retinoids, retinol, retinal, silicon, zinc, iron, copper, selenium, or vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin).
- Take good proper care of your nails.
Dermatologists recommend taking the following steps to keep your nails health:
- Nails should be kept clean and dry.
- When cutting nails, use sharp nail scissors or clippers and cut across. Then round the nails slightly at the tips.
- Use an emery board to file off any jagged edges to keep nails free of snags.
- Do not bite fingernails or remove the cuticle. Doing so can damage the nail.
- Regularly trim toenails and keep them short to reduce the risk of injury.
- Soak feet in warm salt water if your toenails are thick and hard to cut.
- If you have an ingrown toenail, do not try to dig it out yourself. Visit your health professional for treatment.
- Wear properly fitted shoes and try to alternate between different shoes.
- Do not walk barefoot in public pools and showers to reduce the risk of infections
- If you have any changes to your nails such as swelling or pain, see your health professional immediately as it could be a sign of a serious nail problem.
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