Many people consume supplements every day to improve their overall health, while some people consume supplements for specific requirement such as to strengthen their immune system, to help with their heart health and also to ease their bones and joints aches and pains.
There are also a group of supplements that contains specific nutrients for the health of skin, hair and nails which will help to hydrate the skin, prevent hair loss and strengthen the nail cuticles. These specific nutrients normally include antioxidants and fatty acids where deficiencies in such nutrients will normally lead to conditions such as weak brittle nails, fine lines and wrinkles, rough scaly skin patches as well as thinning of the hair.
These are some common vitamins and minerals that are recommended for skin, hair and nails:
Collagen is a protein produced in our body that plays an important role in the structure and function of our skin, cartilage, bones and connective tissues. It helps to hold our cells together and provide elasticity to the skin. However, there are various factors that will contribute to collagen loss or low collagen levels such as:
- The natural process of aging
- Excessive exposure to sun and UV rays
- Lifestyle choices, such as unhealthy diet, smoking or drinking which will lead to an increase of oxidative stress
- Hormonal changes such as pregnancy
Collagen peptides are small molecules of collagen that are easily digestible by our body and help to replace the collagen lost. With sufficient collagen, our skin will stay hydrated, firm and supple. This will help to maintain our skin elasticity, prevent wrinkles and make us look more youthful. Collagen peptides can also help to strengthen our nails by preventing brittleness.
Glutathione is also one of the antioxidants that are produced in our body. It protects our cells from diseases caused by excessive free radicals that will lead to oxidative stress. Poor nutrients, environmental toxins, stress and aging will also cause our body glutathione levels to decline. Studies have shown that glutathione is able to reduce skin pigmentation and improve skin tone especially those exposed to excessive sunlight. Melanin content will increase when we are exposed to sunlight and this could lead to hyperpigmentation. Glutathione is able to stop the action of melanin production and as an alternative agent for photoprotection.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for the maintenance of healthy skin. Besides its well known antioxidant properties, Vitamin E is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin E acts as an anti-inflammatory agent on the skin to prevent the inflammatory damages which will cause skin inflammation such as skin swelling and skin reddening after UV exposure. Due to these properties, Vitamin E is sometimes used as topical application for wound healing together with other skin antioxidants such as Vitamin C and Glutathione.
Generally, B Vitamins are involved in various metabolic reactions and help our body to obtain energy and nutrients from the food that we consume. Some studies showed that Biotin helps to stimulate keratin production in hair and cell turnover in the hair follicles, therefore promoting hair growth. It can also help to make hair stronger and more resistant to falling out. Deficiencies in B Vitamins although rare, have been associated with hair loss such as deficiencies in Riboflavin (B12), Biotin (B7), Folate (B9) and Vitamin B12. B Vitamins are also important for nail health. Biotin may also help to strengthen brittle nails.
Iron is also needed for strong hair and nails and its deficiency is also one of the causes of hair loss and brittle nails. Red blood cells need iron to carry oxygen throughout our body for normal cell growth and repair, including cells that are involved in hair growth and nail beds production. Therefore, iron deficiency or anemia not only causes symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue, it might also cause hair loss and brittle nails.
Zinc is a micronutrient that can contribute and maintain the health of skin, hair and nails. It is an essential nutrient that plays important role in metabolism, helps with the action of enzymes and utilization of protein in our body. These include proteins in the nails. Although Zinc is needed in a small amount, deficiency in this nutrient will cause nails to become fragile, brittle and to crack easily. Zinc deficiency will also cause nail dystrophy, which is the discoloration and distortion of nails. Hair loss is also one of the symptoms of Zinc deficiency.
Many vitamins and minerals that carry antioxidant properties are actually good for our skin, hair and nails health. We can include these vitamins and minerals through a well-balanced diet as well as take supplement for our skin, hair and nails, as and when needed.
- Kaputk. (2022, January 20). Do collagen peptides actually work? Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-do-collagen-peptides-do/
- Nagapan, T. S., Lim, W. N., Basri, D. F., &Ghazali, A. R. (2019). Oral supplementation of L-glutathione prevents ultraviolet B-induced melanogenesis and oxidative stress in BALB/C Mice. Experimental Animals, 68(4), 541–548. https://doi.org/10.1538/expanim.19-0017
- Vitamin E and skin health. Linus Pauling Institute. (2022, January 3). Retrieved June 9, 2022, from https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/vitamin-E#:~:text=Vitamin%20E%20has%20been%20considered,all%20signs%20of%20skin%20inflammation