Foods that May Help Our Hair, Skin and Nails

We all are well aware that grabbing an apple from the refrigerator is healthier than finishing off a bag of chips from the pantry. But did you know that our choice of foods might also affect the condition of our hair, skin and nails?

woman at grocery store

Research has shown that various foods and vitamins may have a positive influence on skin and hair health, the strength of your nails and other aspects of our appearance.

What to eat for healthy, glowing skin:

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, some research suggests that people who eat a diet with a “low glycemic index” – meaning foods that don’t cause a spike in blood sugar – see their acne significantly improve.

For example, you may want to add more foods that are generally high in fiber:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Peas

The Mayo Clinic also suggests foods containing antioxidants to help protect your skin. This could include:

  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Berries
  • Tomatoes
  • Salmon
  • Nuts
  • Beans

One food group that you may not want to overdo it on is dairy products, as several studies suggest that some dairy products, especially skim milk, may make acne worse.

What to eat to help preserve your luscious hair:

Hair loss can be part of the aging process and it can affect all ages and genders. But don’t fret — there are some simple additions you can make to your diet that may help slow the process.

1.     Eat more carrots. Beta-carotene is a pigment found in a variety of colored vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and kale, that your body converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A is a nutrient that helps preserve your vision and boost your immune system, but it can also be beneficial for your hair. On top of that, carrots, as well as eggs, contain biotin which helps promote hair growth by strengthening keratin – which is what hair is made from.

2.     Boost your vitamin D. Salmon is another food source that may help prevent hair loss, as it is one of the best sources of vitamin D, which research suggests can help stimulate and nourish hair follicles. Salmon also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which helps moisturize the scalp of your head and reduce dryness that may lead to hair breakage.

3.     Avocado advantages. When looking at a menu nowadays, you’re likely to see avocados included with nearly every item, but they’re more than just a “trendy” food. Healthy fat, also known as monounsaturated, can help keep your hair soft and shiny, and avocados are rich in that type of fat. They also contain high amounts of vitamin B12 and vitamin E, which may improve the quality of your hair. If you want to start a new trend using avocados, you could try either buying conditioner with avocado in it or directly applying avocado to your hair and scalp, if you’re feeling adventurous. Doing so may help trigger the production of collagen and elastin, helping to strengthen your hair roots.

4.     Oysters, anyone? Zinc is a mineral that helps spur hair growth to the point that if you don’t consume enough zinc, the symptoms may result in slow hair growth or even hair loss. And, according to the National Institutes of Health, oysters contain the most amount of zinc per serving than any other food.

What to eat to help make your nails stronger:

Similar to skin and hair, your nails also need certain nutrients to keep from breaking. For example, brittle nails that crack or break often may be helped by the nutritional supplement of biotin. That includes foods mentioned before, such as carrots and eggs. Eating these may offer you a dual benefit – stronger hair and more durable nails.

Eating foods containing high levels of vitamin B, such as beans, chicken, dairy products, oranges, bananas, avocados, fortified grains and cereals, may also help strengthen problematic nails, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Zinc and drinking enough water may help, as well. In addition to oysters being rich in zinc, eating crab, beef and fortified cereals are other foods that can help produce the same results.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to ask your doctor whether issues with your hair, skin or nails are part of a bigger issue. Dermatologists are specialists in these areas. In addition, talk with your provider before taking any supplements or making big changes to your diet.