Beauty is more than skin deep. what you eat can have an impact. Learn about the best hair, skin and nail vitamins to include in your diet, based on the latest science.
You are what you eat—especially in context nutritional cosmetics, which emphasizes the visible benefits of certain food products and supplements, from the collagen-promoting power of vitamin C to the antioxidant properties of beta-carotene. Nutricosmetics are a fast-growing trend in the beauty industry, as many of these products are designed to promote healthy skin, hair and nails from the inside out. The only question is: Do these beauty foods and supplements actually provide benefits? Keep in mind that dietary supplements do not have the same weight of proof as drugs. Manufacturers do not have to prove their effectiveness before their products are placed on the market. So there is a lot of hype in the nutritional cosmetics world. However, we do know that certain nutrients are linked to healthy skin, hair and nails. Here’s our science-based roundup of the best hair, skin, and nail vitamins for skin health and beyond.
The best vitamins for hair, skin and nails
Bright Vitamin C
Vitamin C intake is important for a healthy lifestyle. This vitamin is essential for the synthesis of collagen, which is a structural protein that holds everything inside us together. In fact, people with vitamin C deficiency (also known as scurvy) are at risk of reopening old scars because the collagen that holds them together has lost its strength. Never fear though, because vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables and can also be supplemented. The highest sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits, peppersstrawberries, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables, and potatoes. Although it is one of the water-soluble vitamins, meaning any excess is lost in our urine instead of being stored in the body, you should be careful not to overdo it with supplements, as this can lead to headaches and nausea. It’s almost impossible to reach this level by eating food sources of vitamin C, so instead of supplements, you can simply add more oranges, broccoli, berries or peppers to your diet – all amazingly delicious foods that have vitamin C and other important nutrients to support your health.
Lycopene, which is found in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit, is another nutrient of interest in the nutritional cosmetics market. If you are familiar with the origins of the Latin and Greek words, you might be wondering why the scientific name for tomato, Solanum lycopersicum, contains the prefix ‘lyco’, meaning wolf. This is because tomatoes were once believed to transform people into werewolves! Fortunately, this is not true, and lycopene is simply an antioxidant compound that can help protect against certain cancers, heart disease, and sunburn. So eat all the tomatoes you like—it might not turn you into a furry wolf, but it’s been proven to protect you from sun damage and even make your skin a healthier tone. Remember, lycopene is more available to your body in its cooked form, so stock up canned tomato recipes
Biotin is one of the most popular and well-known supplements available today. It is a water-soluble vitamin that is important for the health of your hair, skin and nails. Inside the body, biotin is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, helping to convert nutrients into energy. If you’ve ever seen the movie Rocky, you may remember him drinking raw eggs, which would be a great source of biotin for him – except that raw egg whites also contain avidin, which blocks biotin absorption. In a plant-based diet, you will find biotin in bananas, legumes, nuts and seedsand sweet potatoes. Enjoying these foods can help improve hair and nail growth, as biotin stimulates keratin production and follicle development. These foods are also excellent sources of fiber, which is essential for a happy gut microbiome and a healthy body.
Now that you’ve learned about some of the top vitamins in the world of nutritional cosmetics, check out these delicious and nutritious recipes that will really help promote health from the inside out.
Written by Kathryn Atkinson, Dietitian with Sharon Palmer MSFS, RDN