Beyond weight loss, one of the most common questions I get from my female patients is “what can I do to improve my hair and nails?” Achieving this is easy when we’re young, but requires more effort as we begin to age.
Research has shown that our skin, hair, and nails will start deteriorating as early as our mid 20’s. Collagen levels decrease, hair color begins to fade, and our nails become increasingly more fragile. What to do?
Although we can’t stop this from happening completely, there are ways in which we can slow the process. Following are my strategies for looking your best. No surprise, it starts from the inside out!
Top 3 Supplements For Better Hair, Skin, & Nails
One of the most common supplements recommended for hair and skin is biotin, and for good reason. This essential B vitamin is necessary for the conversion of energy from foods in order to drive cellular growth. Our hair, skin, and nails are made up of cells that are rapidly growing, and therefore require a steady supply of this energy (up to 10 mg/day) to remain healthy.
Biotin deficiencies have long been known to result in poor hair and nail growth as well as a range of skin conditions like eczema, wrinkles, and acne.
2. Fish Oil
Fish oil is another popular supplement for heart disease and to promote healthy hair and skin. This supplement is high in essential fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which are some of the major omega 3 fatty acids doctors have been recommending to the general public for years. (500-1000 mg combined EPA/DHA per day or cold water fish 2-3 times per week).
These omega fatty acids are used to build the cell membranes of the skin, hair, and nails. Having these healthy fats as a structural component in our cells provides fluidity for the cell, improves absorption of nutrients, and enables the excretion of metabolic byproducts.
Additionally, the essential fatty acids contained within fish oil works to reduce inflammation and irritation throughout the skin and scalp, and reduces blackhead and acne formation.
Zinc is by far one of the most well-rounded minerals available. It’s used in everything from blood cell production, to DNA repair. As cells grow and divide, they’re more prone to DNA damage from the environment like UV radiation and smoke, as well as elements in our diet like food allergens, and processed foods.
Once this damage has occurred, our skin cells become dysfunctional and contribute to the signs of early ageing like wrinkles and skin discoloration. By ensuring that zinc intake is optimal (8-10 mg/day), we can help prevent the cells in the skin and hair from becoming damaged during cell division, thus optimising the vibrancy and overall beauty of our hair and skin long into the future.
A Healthy Diet: The Foundation for Healthy Hair, Skin, & Nails
What we take into our bodies is directly related to the health of all the cells in our body. High sugar intake can cause blood sugar spikes and promotes the growth of acne-forming bacteria on the skin. High sugar can also trigger hormonal imbalance which in turn leads to blotchy skin, and damage to the cells known as keratinocytes that form our hair, skin, and nails.
Additionally, it’s important to get adequate water intake each day to keep the skin looking healthy, vibrant, and wrinkle-free. Being dehydrated can cause the hair to grow slowly, to look lacklustre, and can eventually lead to hair thinning. The average woman should be drinking a minimum of 8 cups of water per day to maintain optimal hair, skin, and nails.
Exercise Improves Circulation & Vitality
Exercise improves circulation, bringing more blood to the capillaries located throughout your skin and hair follicles. Over time, blood flow in these tiny capillaries tends to reduce, which means less oxygen and nutrients are reaching these tissues throughout the day.
Exercise ensures a boost of blood flow to these areas which stimulates growth and regeneration.
Exercise also helps flush away toxic metabolic byproducts that contributes to our natural degeneration and signs of aging. Additionally, exercise has been shown to increase our overall mood, and promotes weight loss. Both of which are useful in supporting a healthy, happy, and vibrant appearance.