The condition of your skin, hair, and nails 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, medication and drug use, and nutritional deficiencies. Eating a well-balanced diet is the best way to keep the integumentary system—that’s your hair, nails, and skin—healthy. Additionally, vitamin supplementation can support the biological processes that maintain the health of the integumentary system. Supplementation can be especially important for helping to tame the 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 production. Keratin is a protein that is an essential building block for the integumentary system. Talk to your naturopathic physician about the following key supplements that can give strength and shine to your hair, skin, and nails.
Biotin & the mighty 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 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, beef liver, and grains 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, 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. Good sources are seeds, dark green veggies, safflower oil, and citrus fruits.
Essential fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 fats have been shown to reduce inflammation and support skin and scalp health. You can obtain essential fatty acids from eating cold-water fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, anchovies, tuna, pollock, or shrimp. However, these fish can contain high levels of heavy metals—that's not a good thing. Limit your intake of seafood to just two or three servings per week and choose sources low in mercury. Check out the Environmental Working Groups guide to seafood to get your custom seafood guide: http://www.ewg.org/research/ewgs-good-seafood-guide . If you are averse to eating fish, or are vegan, a flaxseed oil supplement is a good alternative.
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