In order to keep skin, hair and nails healthy, it’s important to take good overall care of yourself. Your external appearance is dependent on the health of the rest of your body. A diet that supports healthy skin, hair, and nails includes high-nutrient, high-water-content foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. These important foods should be consumed every day.
The essential fatty acids found in vegetable oils, seeds, and nuts are also necessary to nourish the skin and keep its texture and vitality strong. Water is another crucial component that carries nutrients throughout the body while flushing out toxins. Good digestion and assimilation are also essential to ensure that the amino acids vital to tissue building and rapid cellular development are available. Antioxidants counteract free-radical damage and help reduce some of the aging effects of smoke and environmental pollution. The following nutrients are essential for healthy skin, hair and nails:
Vitamin A: This antioxidant helps maintain the structural integrity of cells and the healthy functioning of mucous linings. It has been shown to virtually eliminate milder cases of acne as it helps reduce the production of sebum, which clogs pores. Vitamin A along with adequate protein intake generates healthy hair. Look to yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, liver, and fish liver oil for food sources of vitamin A.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an important antioxidant for the skin. It fights wrinkles and helps the body produce and maintain healthy collagen. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, rose hips, acerola cherries, red and green peppers, broccoli, and bean sprouts.
Zinc: Zinc works with vitamin C to make collagen, an important component of connective tissue. It also supports the tissue-rebuilding actions of vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy skin cells and may be helpful in generating new skin after burns or injury. Nails and hair contain zinc; therefore, this mineral is important for their maintenance. Zinc is found in pecans, pumpkin seeds, whole-wheat flour, rye flour, oat flour, oysters, and red meat.
Vitamin E: This powerful antioxidant helps the body retain moisture and can prevent sun damage. Its cell protection qualities contribute to vitamin E’s prevention of tissue degeneration and premature aging. Vitamin E also promotes the absorption of vitamin A. Although found in cold-pressed wheat germ oil and cold-pressed safflower oil, it is difficult to get therapeutic amounts from foods; therefore, supplementation is essential.
Selenium: This mineral greatly reduces the incidence of UV-induced skin cancer. It may help with dry skin of the scalp (dandruff) and enhances vitamin E absorption. Selenium is found in garlic, onions, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ and Brazil nuts.
Essential Fatty Acids: These include the good omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fats are “essential” because our bodies can’t manufacture them and they must be obtained from foods. Essential fatty acids help hydrate and increase the skin’s moisture content. They also make nails glossier and more flexible, and help hair retain moisture. Flaxseed oil is high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
B Complex Vitamins: This group of vitamins is very important for the health of skin and hair. B complex vitamins are helpful for dry or itchy dermatitis, rashes, or cracks at the corners of the mouth. A deficiency can result in various skin problems and hair loss, to name a few. B complex vitamins are found in a wide variety of foods.