The ancient Greeks believed that if you were physically beautiful you were in harmony with the universe, and that one’s own physical beauty was a miniature representation of the cosmos.
And while the ancient Greeks credited the Gods for whatever physical beauty they possessed, modern science now knows that nutrition plays a vital role in our physical appearance. Healthy, beautiful, shiny hair and nails can be yours provided you give your body the nutrients it needs to make them. It’s called beauty from the inside out and it’s easier than you might think!
Our recommended nutrients for healthy hair and nails
If your eyes are the windows to your soul, then your hair and nails are windows to your overall health. Healthy hair and nails are dependent upon adequate protein, minerals, vitamins, essential fatty acids, complex carbohydrates and water. And if you aren’t getting the necessary nutrients you need for optimal health, or if your body isn’t absorbing or assimilating them properly, the deficiency may appear as lifeless hair and nails.
1. Silica—a bioavailable form of silicon, is called the beauty mineral because it helps you grow lustrous hair and hard nails, fast. It also helps maintain bone density and strength by facilitating the deposit of calcium and other minerals into the bone.1
Why do you need silica?
Next to oxygen, silica is the most abundant element on earth. Your body contains about seven grams of this essential trace element, which is necessary for healthy skin, ligaments, tendons, and bones. Silica helps facilitate the formation of collagen, which is vital to the strength and development of epithelial and skeletal connective tissue.
Silica, along with vitamin C, helps to maintain moisture in the skin and other tissues via compounds called mucopolysaccharides. Also known as glycosaminoglycans, these mucilaginous carbohydrates, together with collagen and elastin, make up our connective tissues.
Silica also plays a role in the body’s healing processes, and is integral to a healthy immune system. Additionally, silica is vital for the structure of your teeth, contributing to the hardening of enamel, and preventing bleeding gums and gum recession.
In one study silica was examined for its ability to improve skin and nail health in women who had sun-damaged skin. Chronic exposure to sunlight has been shown to damage connective tissue, which causes loss of elasticity in skin. In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, women were given 10 mg daily of either a bioavailable silica or placebo. Measurements of skin and nail health were taken throughout the study. At the end of 20 weeks, the women taking silica had decreased skin roughness and less-brittle nails and hair, showing that silica had a significantly positive effect on nails, skin, and hair.2
Another study at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Pharmacy investigated the effect of silica on hair. In this randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study 48 women with fine hair were given 10 mg of bioavailable silica a day or placebo for nine months. At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that the women taking silica had thicker hair because of increased elasticity and tensile strength.3
Why do you need a silica supplement?
As we get older, our levels of silica decline, and low estrogen levels decrease the body’s ability to absorb silica.
Also, the amount of silica found in food is very low since it is usually found in the skin or outer layers of food, and is removed during processing. For instance, the silica found in rice is usually removed through rice polishing. The current intake of silica by the average person is much lower than it has been in the past.
The main food sources of silica are apples, oranges, cherries, raisins, almonds, peanuts, raw cabbage, onions, endives, carrots, eggplants, pumpkin, red beets, celery, cucumber, fish, honey, and corn. An increased need for silica is best met by increasing your consumption of whole grains, because they are rich sources of absorbable silica. However, absorbing silica from food can be difficult.
A silica deficiency can result in soft or brittle nails, premature wrinkles, thinning or loss of hair, poor bone development and osteoporosis. The chief symptom of silica deficiency is sensitivity to cold, i.e. feeling cold even on a warm summer day.
2. Biotin—is part of the B vitamin complex, and is a co-enzyme involved in several processes in the body. It helps manufacture and utilize fatty acids and amino acids, and helps in the utilization of carbohydrates for body heat and energy. Biotin also aids in the utilization of folic acid, pantothenic acid and vitamin B.
Studies have shown that supplementation with biotin—called the hair vitamin—helps restore dry, brittle nails4 and promotes hair growth.
Brittle nail syndrome appears to abate with supplementation with a 2.5 mg dose of biotin daily or a 10 mg dose of silica daily.5
With the use of scanning electron microscopy, a study in Switzerland demonstrated a 25 percent increase in nail plate thickness and a reduction in nail splitting in patients who took a biotin supplement.6
Another study showed that biotin supplementation increased nail thickness by 25 percent in the majority of participants (63 percent) who had brittle nails. Nearly all patients had improved hardness and firmness after taking 2.5 mg biotin daily for an average of 5.5 months.7
Biotin makes hair more manageable
Do you have uncombable hair syndrome? Apparently it’s not a joke, and even tends to run in families. If your hair is stringy, thin and matted, and gives you the “bad hair day” blues day after day, studies indicate that biotin can help improve its texture and manageability8 —which is why you’ll find it in the ingredient list of many hair care products. But it’s important to remember that what you take internally (in the form of food or a supplement, for instance) will have a greater influence on the development of the actual hair shaft than what you apply topically.
Why do you need a biotin supplement?
Since biotin is a water-soluble vitamin it may be lost in the water used in cooking. Relatively high doses (2.5 mg/day) are necessary in order to see a difference in your hair and nails. The main food sources of biotin include egg yolk, soybeans, organ meats, yeast, cheese, barley, chard, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and carrots. Also, almonds, chicken eggs, onions, cabbage, cucumber, cauliflower, goat’s milk, cow’s milk, raspberries, strawberries, halibut, oats, and walnuts. A biotin deficiency can contribute to depression, nervous system abnormalities, premature gray hair and hair loss, and also dry, scaly, wrinkled skin.
3. N-Acetyl Cysteine—(also referred to as NAC) is an amino acid and a precursor to glutathione, one of the body’s most important antioxidants. NAC assists in the formation of protein and collagen, and is an important component of your hair, nails, and skin, promoting a smooth texture and elasticity. NAC also helps strengthen the protective lining of the stomach and intestines, and is especially important for a healthy immune system.
Two interesting studies show that NAC is a powerful supplement when used to protect against hair loss caused by toxic drugs.
In a study published in the International Journal of Oncology, NAC was shown to prevent hair loss in laboratory animals that were injected with doxorubicin, a drug normally given for cancer. Interestingly, NAC also resulted in the death of cancer cells.9
Another study showed that NAC protected against hair loss when it was given to laboratory animals prior to harsh chemical exposure.10
Why do you need an N-acetyl cysteine supplement?
Acetylcysteine converts to cysteine within the cell, acting as a precursor to glutathione and contributing to its regeneration. Unfortunately, cysteine is found only in small amounts in the diet.
The main food source for cysteine is egg yolk
A cysteine deficiency is rare, but supplementation with this amino acid can make a huge difference for individuals wishing to enhance their immune system, detoxify heavy metals, improve lung function, and protect against cataracts. Of course it is also essential for the healthy formation of hair, skin, and nails.
4. Inositol—is a member of the vitamin B complex. Inositol plays an important role in the health of cell membranes—especially in the brain, bone marrow, eyes, and intestines—where it helps regulate the contents of the cells. It also is essential for the transportation of fats from the liver to the cells, and the metabolism of fats, including cholesterol.
Inositol is said to promote the growth of healthy hair and helps prevent it from falling out. It is also helpful in preventing eczema.
Why do you need an inositol supplement?
Although it is highly soluble in water, inositol is not destroyed by heat in neutral, acid, and alkaline mediums. It is, however, destroyed by food-processing techniques, alcohol, and coffee.
The main food sources of inositol are liver, brewer’s yeast, dried lima beans, beef brain and heart, grapefruit, raisins, wheat germ, unrefined molasses, peanuts, and cabbage.
An inositol deficiency can contribute to alopecia (hair loss), patchy baldness, gastritis, hypertension, fatty infiltration in the liver, and eczema.
5. PABA—is the acronym for para-aminobenzoic acid, the “sunscreen vitamin” used in sunscreen products. Although it is commonly believed to be part of the B complex, it is not. Rather, it is a non-protein amino acid and powerful antioxidant that helps protect us against ultraviolet rays. It also assists in the manufacture of folic acid in the intestines, and acts as a co-enzyme in the breakdown and utilization of protein, and assists in the formation of red blood cells.
PABA has been linked to hair growth as well as reversing the graying of hair, but there haven’t been any reliable scientific studies done to date that illustrate this. People suffering from vitiligo, over-pigmentation of skin, or without pigment in some spots, have reported an improvement of the skin after taking PABA.
Supplementing the diet with PABA may restore gray hair to its original color if the graying was caused by stress or a nutritional deficiency.
Why do you need a PABA supplement?
Although your body synthesizes PABA, it may not be sufficient for maximum protection. PABA supplements can enhance its beneficial effects. Also, sulfa drugs may cause a deficiency of PABA.
The main food sources of PABA are molasses, brewer’s yeast, liver, whole grains, and eggs. A deficiency in PABA can contribute to premature graying of the hair, eczema, premature wrinkles, fatigue, irritability, depression, brain fogginess, dementia, arthritis and bursitis, headache, constipation, and other digestive disorders.
6. Vitamin C—is an unheralded champion when it comes to beauty from the inside out. It helps protect unsaturated fatty acids from being oxidized, therefore protecting their potency. Vitamin C is a protective vitamin essential to over-all body health, and it is especially important for neutralizing free radicals11 and protecting the body from premature aging. It also helps in the production of collagen and maintenance of healthy skin and it promotes the healing of scar tissue.
Why do you need a vitamin C supplement?
There are two types of vitamin C … fat-soluble and water-soluble. Both are important so you want to be sure you get both types. Ascorbic acid is the water-soluble type and ascorbyl palmitate is the fat-soluble form of vitamin C.
One of the advantages of taking a nutritional supplement that contains ascorbyl palmitate and ascorbic acid is that you may require a smaller dosage because ascorbyl palmitate doesn’t flush out of your system as quickly as water-soluble vitamin C. More importantly, exciting new research done on laboratory animals and in vitro indicates that ascorbyl palmitate stimulates collagen synthesis at lower doses than ascorbic acid.12 13
A deficiency of vitamin C may result in bleeding gums, swollen or painful joints, slow healing of wounds and fractures, the tendency to bruise or bleed in any part of the body, scurvy, and cardiovascular disease.
7. MSM—(methylsulfonylmethane) provides sulfur, which is integral to every cell in the body, and is needed for the production of collagen and keratin, building blocks of cartilage, tissue, hair, skin, and nails. MSM is commonly used as a nutritional supplement to help alleviate the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis. But it is also valued as a “beauty mineral” because it helps keep your hair lustrous, your skin radiant, and your nails strong.
Why do you need an MSM supplement?
Much of the MSM found in unprocessed foods is lost in washing and cooking. Vegetarians who do not eat eggs are at particular risk for sulfur deficiency.
The main food sources of MSM are meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy, soybeans, turnips, dried beans, Brussels sprouts and kale.
A deficiency in MSM can contribute to hair, skin, and nail problems, heightened sensitivity to pain, gastrointestinal problems, arthritis, acne, allergies, and poor memory.
Beauty from the inside out
Beautiful skin goes along with beautiful hair and nails. And it all starts on the inside. If you want to be beautiful on the outside, you need to take care of what you put into your body, and make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need for optimal health.
We’ve given you the main ingredients for beautiful hair and nails … and it’s fair to assume that you also want a glowing clear complexion. So here’s our last bit of advice: drink plenty of water, eat a healthy, low-fat, low-carb diet with plenty of fresh fruits and veggies and lean protein. And last but not least, consider adding hyaluronic acid to your daily health regimen.
This combination of hyaluronic acid (HA) and the all natural nutrients presented here helps to:
- Curb premature wrinkling
- Increase skin hydration
- Keep skin moist and smooth
- Boost skin elasticity
- Enhance collagen synthesis
- Nourish healthy skin cell growth
- Promote firm skin tone
- Support healthier joints
You now have the recipe for beautiful new hair, skin, and nails. Feel good, look beautiful, and enjoy life.
- Calomme M, Geusens P, Demeester N, Behets GJ, D’Haese P, Sindambiwe JB, Van Hoof V, Vanden Berghe D. Partial prevention of long-term femoral bone loss in aged ovariectomized rats supplemented with choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid. Calcif Tissue Int. 2006 Apr;78(4):227-32. Epub 2006 Apr 13.
- Barel A, Calomme M, Timchenko A, De Paepe K, Demeester N, Rogiers V, Clarys P, Vanden Berghe D. Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on skin, nails and hair in women with photodamaged skin. Arch Dermatol Res. 2005 Oct;297(4):147-53. Epub 2005 Oct 26.
- Wickett RR, Kossmann E, Barel A, Demeester N, Clarys P, Vanden Berghe D, Calomme M. Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on hair tensile strength and morphology in women with fine hair. Arch Dermatol Res. 2007 Dec;299(10):499-505. Epub 2007 Oct 25.
- Iorizzo M, Pazzaglia M, M Piraccini B, Tullo S, Tosti A. Brittle nails. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2004 Jul;3(3):138-44.
- Scheinfeld N, Dahdah MJ, Scher R. Vitamins and minerals: their role in nail health and disease. J Drugs Dermatol. 2007 Aug;6(8):782-7.
- Colombo VE, Gerber F, Bronhofer M, Floersheim GL. Treatment of brittle fingernails and onychoschizia with biotin: scanning electron microscopy. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1990 Dec;23(6 Pt 1):1127-32.
- Floersheim GL. [Treatment of brittle fingernails with biotin] Z Hautkr. 1989 Jan 15;64(1):41-8.
- Boccaletti V, Zendri E, Giordano G, Gnetti L, De Panfilis G. Familial Uncombable Hair Syndrome: Ultrastructural Hair Study and Response to Biotin. Pediatr Dermatol. 2007 Apr 8. [Epub ahead of print.
- D’Agostini F, Bagnasco M, Giunciuglio D, Albini A, De Flora S. Inhibition by oral N-acetylcysteine of doxorubicin-induced clastogenicity and alopecia, and prevention of primary tumors and lung micrometastases in mice. Int J Oncol. 1998 Aug;13(2):217-24.
- Chatterjee D, Mukherjee S, Smith MG, Das SK. Evidence of hair loss after subacute exposure to 2-chloroethyl ethyl sulfide, a mustard analog, and beneficial effects of N-acetyl cysteine. J Biochem Mol Toxicol. 2004;18(3):150-3.
- Perricone N, Nagy K, Horvath F, Dajko G, Uray I, Zs-Nagy I. The hydroxyl free radical reactions of ascorbyl palmitate as measured in various in vitro models. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 1999 Sep 7;262(3):661-5.
- Rosenblat G, Willey A, Zhu YN, Jonas A, Diegelmann RF, Neeman I, Graham MF. Palmitoyl ascorbate: selective augmentation of procollagen mRNA expression compared with L-ascorbate in human intestinal smooth muscle cells. J Cell Biochem 1999 Jun 1;73(3):312-20.
- Rosenblat G, Perelman N, Katzir E, Gal-Or S, Jonas A, Nimni ME, Sorgente N, Neeman I. Acylated ascorbate stimulates collagen synthesis in cultured human foreskin fibroblasts at lower doses than does ascorbic acid. Connect Tissue Res 1998;37(3-4):303-11.