The health of our hair, skin and nails is extremely important as these are a reflection of the natural balance within our bodies – a barometer of our health.
You can always tell someone who is less than healthy. Their hair is lank, their skin is dull or spotty and their nails are discoloured, ridged or broken.
For great skin, hair and nails, we need to eat foods that are rich in antioxidants, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, B vitamins, water, healthy fats, and naturally low in sugar. These foods will enhance our blood flow, reduce inflammation, and aid in healthy blood sugar levels.
We all know that sugary foods do little for the overall health of our bodies but a diet too full of the sweet stuff can take its toll on our hair, skin and nails.
Did you know for example that too much sugar can affect your collagen -important for my age group and especially so for mine (50+). Collagen and elastin are the protein fibres that keep skin firm and elastic. Besides damaging collagen, a high sugar diet affects the type of collagen you have – and how prone you are to wrinkling.
Whilst we should all be trying to retain our natural good looks with a vitamin and nutrient rich diet, life tends to get in the way and we end up indulging in high fat, high salt takeaways or, my particular vices tea and coffee.
So as well as eating a vitamin rich diet, we should make sure that we have sufficient amounts of the following vitamins and minerals which have a particular benefit for glowing skin, strong nails and glossy hair.
These include Riboflavin (vit.B2), Niacin (vit. B3) and biotin which contribute to the maintenance of normal skin, and the minerals selenium and zinc which contribute to the maintenance of normal hair and nails.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
This water-soluble vitamin helps the body to use the other B-vitamins, all of which assist with helping our body use energy from food and may also help protect cells from oxidative damage.
If you are deficient in this vitamin, you may have symptoms such as cracks at the corners of the mouth, sore throat, hypersensitivity to light and migraine headaches.
A deficiency in riboflavin also effects the formation of collagen, needed to maintain healthy skin.
You can find vitamin B2 in meats such as beef and lamb, milk and yoghurt, mushrooms, spinach, almonds and eggs.
Niacin (vitamin B3)
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is a water-soluble vitamin that is a part of the coenzymes that assist with energy metabolism.
If you consume a diet of mostly processed and sugary foods, processed grains, white bread, white flour, wheat products and corn syrup you risk becoming deficient in this vitamin.
A niacin deficiency will lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, dementia, dermatitis, poor concentration, anxiety and depression.
Good sources of Niacin include turkey, chicken breast, peanuts, mushrooms, liver, tuna, sunflower seeds and avocado.
Biotin (or vitamin H) is one of the B complex vitamins that help the body convert food into energy.
B vitamins, and particularly biotin, help keep your skin, hair, eyes, liver, and nervous system healthy and it’s also a important nutrient during pregnancy as it aids the growth of your baby.
Generally we can get the biotin we need from eating a healthy diet, but there are now claims that getting more biotin can regulate your blood sugar, promote healthy hair, skin and nails, and help pregnant mums have healthier babies.
Biotin deficiencies are rare but symptoms include hair loss or a scaly red rash, anemia and fungal infections.
Good sources of Biotin include seafood, meat, whole wheat bread, eggs, dairy products and soya.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral important for cognitive function, a healthy immune system and fertility for both men and women.
Selenium works in close conjunction with vitamin E as an antioxidant to prevent the formation of free radicals and in turn, may reduce the risk of skin cancer and prevent sunburn.
Selenium is found in a variety of foods, the richest sources being Brazil nuts, seafood and organ meats.
Zinc is another essential trace element and it is needed in small amounts every day to maintain our health. For example, zinc helps with hormone production, growth and repair, improves immunity and aids digestion.
Although it is actually present within all bodily tissue, if you don’t have enough zinc in your diet you may find you are frequently falling ill, feeling constantly tired with poor concentration and wounds that take ages to heal.
Zinc has numerous benefits for your skin, particularly if you are prone to acne or spots which may actually be a sign of a zinc deficiency.
Other signs that you are deficient in this trace element include white spots on your fingernails, dry skin, frequent colds, hair loss, diarrhea and low sex drive.
Good sources of zinc include spinach, beef, kidney beans, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and oysters.
But when you’re pushed for time, it isn’t always easy to make the best food choices and what if you are don’t eat meat, dairy or are wheat intolerant?
A supplement such as Perfectil Original for Skin, Hair & Nails by Vitabiotics may be the answer as will swopping some of your usual food choices for the foods listed above. For example, swopping your sugary breakfast cereal for a healthy oaty porridge, adding extra green veggies, particularly broccoli and eating more fish such as salmon and mackerel.
If, though, you are finding you have problems with your hair, skins and nails you should see your GP to get a medical check up. For example, problems with the thyroid gland may lead to hair thinning or hair loss and dry skin.
You should also look at your lifestyle in general and make sure you are taking adequate steps to manage your stress and get enough sleep.
Meditation and the practice of Mindfulness are two easy, free ways to take control of unruly thoughts and to stay calm and centered.