The condition of your skin, nails, and hair are a reflection of your overall state of health. A variety of factors can affect their condition, including genetics, exposure to tobacco smoke, sun damage, medications or other drugs and nutritional deficiencies. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes a lot of plant-based foods (fruit, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, beans) is the best way to keep this integumentary system —that’s your hair, nails, and skin — healthy. Additionally, a few vitamin supplements can support various processes that maintain the health of this system. Supplementation can be important for helping with symptoms of hypothyroidism, which is known to adversely affect the condition of hair, skin, and nails.
Vitamin formulas for healthy hair, skin, and nails contain many of the same nutrients that your entire body needs for growth and maintenance of cells. Hair, skin, and nails also respond well to vitamins that support keratin, a protein need to maintain and build these cells. But don’t just add supplements, first add in the foods that contain the nutrients that you need. Then talk to your nutrition practitioner about using supplements wisely and for the shortest time needed. The following key supplements that can give strength and shine to your hair, skin, and nails and more importantly energy for a healthier body.
Biotin & all those B vitamins. The B-complex (B12, B3, and B6) is vital for hair and skin growth. Biotin, also a B vitamin, is sometimes used to help reduce or prevent hair loss. Some people do not get enough biotin in their diet, resulting in a deficiency. In such cases, research has shown taking biotin supplements may help alleviate hair thinning. Biotin-rich foods include brewers yeast, peanut butter, eggs, avocados, legumes, and bananas.
Vitamin D is important for hair follicle cycling, especially for individuals who live in northern parts of the United States where sunlight is limited. Salmon, mushrooms, egg yolks, parsley and beef liver are great sources of vitamin D.
Zinc is a key mineral for hair growth, wound healing, healthy skin, and immune function. Zinc is found in foods such as red meat, oysters, lamb, turkey, beans, brewers yeast, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, and chocolate.
Horsetail, a herb, acts as an antibacterial and has a remineralizing effect. It is rich in flavonoids, potassium, and silicon, which are vital to the functioning of rapidly growing tissues such as skin and nails. It also has a key role in the synthesis of collagen.
Vitamins C & E both have many important functions, including protecting cells from damage and boosting immunity. Theses antioxidants are widely available in foods with good sources found in: almonds, sunflower seeds, dark green veggies, all vegetables with rich color (red, green, yellow, orange) and citrus fruits.
Essential fatty acids. Omega-3 fats are often missing from those who eat few seafood meals, especially the deep sea variety of fish. These O3 fats have been shown to reduce inflammation and support skin and scalp health. You can obtain essential fatty acids, especially O3 from eating cold-water fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, anchovies, tuna, pollock, or shrimp. Fish can contain high levels of heavy metals, so limit your intake of these fish to just once or twice per week; if you are pregnant or nursing, then eat fish much less often. If you are averse to eating fish, or are vegan, flaxseeds or flaxseed oil supplement is a good alternative.
National Institutes of Health. Vitamin and Minerals Supplement Fact Sheets. Accessed May 2015. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/list-VitaminsMinerals/
Szyszkowska, B., et al. “The Influence of Selected Ingredients of Dietary Supplements on Skin Condition.” Postȩpy Dermatologii i Alergologii 31, no. 3 (June 2014): 174–181. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4112259/pdf/PDIA-31-22325.pdf