Whether or not you are phased by your outer appearance, your hair and nails are important features of the body to keep healthy. Shaking the hand of someone suffering from cracked or peeling nails is never pleasant, and the appearance of dry or greasy hair can have dire effects on your self-confidence.
While we often talk about the best ways to keep internal organs ticking over or focus on boosting your mental well-being, in this article, we will be focusing on specific nutrients that boost the overall health of our hair and nails.
What it does: A vital ingredient for all growth in the body, vitamin A is essential for ensuring healthy hair and nails. As well as encouraging the production of sebum in the scalp, which helps to keep your luscious locks nourished as opposed to dry, Vitamin A is great for helping your nails stay rejuvenated, ensuring they remain strong whilst preventing cracks and discolouring.
Where to find it: The fat-soluble vitamin is found in anything that contains keratin, including carrots, sweet potatoes, dried apricots, peppers, fish and dark leafy greens such as spinach and Pak Choi. As long as you are eating plenty of fresh salad, there should be no need to worry about whether or not you are getting enough vitamin A in your diet.
If you don’t get enough: Often leading to dry hair and an itchy, flaky scalp, commonly known as dandruff, Vitamin A deficiency certainly isn’t pleasant. Due to the fact that vitamin A also supports the eye health and immune system, you may find yourself picking up infections as well as suffering from dry eyes.
What it does: Biotin, or vitamin H, as it’s often referred to, is thought to speed up the rate of hair and nail growth; consequently, this had lead to many ‘miracle beauty products’ hitting the shelves, all containing biotin. Also, these products may do the trick, there’s no question that you will end up paying over the odds for something that can be sufficiently consumed through diet alone.
Where to find it: Easily incorporated into the diet, biotin is found in a wide variety of foods including walnuts, lentils, raspberries and the well know dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale.
If you don’t get enough: If your body is experiencing regular biotin deficiency, you may experience symptoms such as delicate and brittle hair, sometimes even leading to it falling out, resulting in balding. Although rare, occasionally not consuming sufficient amounts of biotin can lead to red, patchy rashes, anaemia, and fungal infections.
What it does: The well-loved vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen, a protein that supports the health and strength of our hair and nails. Also an antioxidant, Vitamin C helps to protect the body from tissue-damaging free radicals, another factor that can contribute to optimum hair and nail health.
Where to find it: One of the easiest vitamins to consume, vitamin C is popularly found in oranges; however, it is also present in kale, broccoli, strawberries, grapefruit, sprouts, and red bell peppers. Incorporate sufficient amounts of vitamin C into the diet for perfect hair and nail health.
If you don’t get enough: With the optimum amount of vitamin C consumption being 65mg a day, it’s easy to get the recommended daily amount in one hit from snacking on a large orange. If the body is deficient in vitamin C, the effects are incredibly unpleasant – with dry and splitting hair, scaly skin and lower immunity being just a couple of them.
What it does: Commonly referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, vitamin D supports your immune system and helps the body fight off disease as well as keeping your hair healthy and rejuvenated. Also helping the body to absorb calcium, vitamin D promotes hair and nail growth, as well as helping them to stay strong and healthy.
Where to find it: Going outside for at least 15 minutes a day will ensure you get your vitamin D fix, due to the best source of the important vitamin being natural sunlight. In addition to this, Vitamin D can be consumed through your diet, by eating food such as fatty fish (including tuna and mackerel), cheese, egg yolks, and even beef liver.
If you don’t get enough: In America, vitamin D is one of the most commonly suffered vitamin deficiencies. With symptoms including fragile nails that are prone to splitting, dry and brittle hair, and even weaker bones, like any lack of vitamin, vitamin D deficiency is far from enjoyable.
What it does: Consuming enough iron is essential for the body to function properly. With regards to the hair, iron helps to carry oxygen to your hair roots, ensuring it stays luscious and shiny throughout the day. If you notice your hair is starting to fall out, try incorporating more iron-rich foods into your daily diet.
Where to find it: Although high levels of iron are found in red meat, we recommend you consume iron-rich plant foods such as lentils, seaweed, spinach and even sesame seeds for an all-around healthy diet and iron-rich infusion.
If you don’t get enough: Long-term, iron deficiency has the potential to lead to anaemia. It can also make you experience symptoms such as tiredness, shortness of breath, and a paler complexion than usual. A lack of iron in the diet may cause hair loss as the body gets shocked into ‘survival’ mode, rather than focus on the hair.
What it does: A diet rich in zinc should be the top priority for healthy hair and nails. As well as repairing damaged cells, zinc also helps to keep your hairs oil glands in optimum condition, resulting in your hair being healthy, strong and full. Also helping to keep the nails healthy, a diet rich in zinc will prevent cracking and spots appearing on the nails.
Where to find it: Oysters are believed to contain the most zinc; however, you can also get your fix of zinc from lamb and beef, spinach, pumpkin and squash seeds, cashew nuts, chickpeas and even chocolate!
If you don’t get enough: A diet sufficient in zinc is incredibly important. Zinc deficiency can cause hair loss, split and broken nails, slower wound healing and general cell regeneration, skin sores and diarrhoea.
To ensure optimum health of the hair and nails, it’s important to strive for a healthy, balanced diet that incorporates vitamins H, A, C and D in addition to iron and zinc, plus other essential vitamins and minerals. If you are looking to boost hair and nail growth, increases your vitamin D and biotin consumption for flawless hair and nails in no time at all. While ensuring a sufficient consumption of vitamins and minerals is important to achieve those luscious locks, remember that protecting your hair from the direct UV rays of the sun can also help preserve the hairs youth and overall health. On scorching hot days when the sun is at its strongest, wearing a yoga cap or scarf when you venture outside can really help prolong the youthful glow of your delicate hair.