Your nails and hair can reflect the state of your body’s overall health and nutritional makeup, whether it's well-nourished or has biochemical imbalances. In order to achieve healthy hair and strong nails, it’s essential to get the proper nutrients to enhance their beauty from the inside out.
A few nutrients are stand-outs for their power to give your nails and hair extra shine, luster, and strength.
- Biotin. As part of the B-complex group of vitamins, evidence suggests that biotin supplements may help repair splitting and thin fingernails, toenails and hair. Biotin helps to break down both carbohydrates and fats and has been used to treat conditions ranging from cradle cap to alopecia.
- Protein. Hair and nails are comprised of a special type of protein called keratin, which is an essential amino acid that is the building block for our nails and hair. Science has discovered an association between nail abnormalities and protein deficiencies. Lean meats, nuts, low-fat yogurt, and legumes are all great sources of dietary protein.
- Omega Fats. Healthy fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6, can help your hair and nails to stay moisturized, while preventing breakage and splitting. When you can’t consume two to three servings of fatty fish each week, consider taking an omega supplement.
- Vitamin E. Are you nails tinged with a yellow hue? If so, you may benefit from taking a vitamin E supplement, either topically or orally, which in small studies has suggested to be effective in the treatment of yellow nail syndrome.
- Iron. Lack of iron, particularly when it develops into a severe case of iron-deficiency anemia, can cause brittle nails. If diagnosed as being iron-deficient, your functional medicine doctor may recommend you take supplemental iron.
- Zinc. While zinc is associated with being an important nutrient in maintaining a healthy immune system, it is also a strong antioxidant helpful in the development of skin, hair, and nails. Poor nail health, including having inflamed cuticles, hangnails, and deformed nails, has been attributed to a deficiency in zinc, as has having alopecia and dry, brittle hair.
Remember, the secret to maintaining healthy hair and strong nails starts on the inside. When it comes to healthy hair and nails, it’s not just what you apply to them on the outside that counts — it’s what you put in your body, too.