When it comes to supporting your hair, skin and nails it’s important to be aware of what vitamins and nutrients will provide you with the foundational support to grow strong hair, skin and nails. Many vitamin deficiencies are linked with hair loss and some factors such as age, genetics and hormones can affect your ability to grow strong nails, hair and have glowing skin.
Some vitamins and nutrients will help to support you:
Hyaluronic acid (or Hyaluronan) is a clear, gooey substance that is naturally produced by our bodies to retain water and keep our tissues well lubricated and moist. The largest amounts of Hyaluronic acid are found in the skin, connective tissue and eyes. Approximately half of the Hyaluronic acid in our bodies is found in the skin where it binds to water to help retain moisture . Hyaluronic acid is a widely distributed medicine, cosmetic, food and dietary supplement used to support and promote skin moisture. In a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled clinical study it was found that ingested Hyaluran increased skin moisture and improved treatment outcomes for patients with dry skin .
Hyaluronic acid has also shown to improve skin when applied topically. One study on thirty-three women with an average age of 45.2 were studied for a period of eight weeks to measure the anti wrinkle efficacy of a new nano-hyaluronic acid which was applied topically. The results of the study showed a statistically significant moisturising effect of the product range (lotion, serum and cream after 2, 4 and 8 weeks of treatment. It demonstrated a significant benefit in decreasing the depth of wrinkles (up to 40%), and skin hydration (up to 96%) and skin firmness and elasticity were significantly enhanced (up to 55%) at the end of the 8 weeks .
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is responsible for the structure, stability and strength of our skin and dermal layers. As we age the deposition of collagen and elastin in our body decreases, in particular with exposure to the sun. The structures begin to break down which results in dermal damage and skin wrinkles. Collagen also provides support to various tissues in our bodies, such as tendons, ligaments, skin, teeth and other connective tissue structures .
Collagen can act as an antioxidant to fight damage in the body caused by free radicals such as stress, air pollutants, smoking, poor dietary choices, alcohol and other environmental influences. Several test tube studies have shown that collagen from fish scales can have powerful antioxidant activity  . However, more research is needed on the antioxidant potential of collagen.
Collagen makes up for a large percentage of your dermis, some of which contains the middle layer of skin that contains the root of each hair. Therefore, supplementing with collagen may prevent age related hair thinning .
One eight week study on 69 women aged 35-55 found that by taking daily collagen supplements significantly improved skin elasticity compared to a placebo . Another 12-week study in more than 1000 adults found that a daily collagen supplement improved the amount of protein in the skin and reduced signs of skin ageing .
Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that it dissolves in water and is carried to the body’s tissues but is not stored in the body. This type of vitamin must be consumed daily either through nutrition or supplements so the body gets a steady supply. The human body needs biotin to convert certain nutrients into energy. Biotin plays an important role in the health of hair, skin and nails. A biotin deficiency could show symptoms of hair loss, dermatitis, seizures and fetal malformations . Biotin is mostly found in foods bound to protein, it can be found naturally in many types of food, such as beef liver, egg, salmon, pork chop, hamburger patties, sunflower seeds, sweet potato, almonds, tuna, spinach, broccoli and many more .
One study on biotin to treat brittle nails assessed the effects of 2.5mg/day of biotin for 6-15 months in 22 women with brittle, splitting, or soft nails and 10 healthy volunteers. In the 8 patients who suffered with brittle nails whose nail samples were obtained before and after biotin supplementation found their nail thickness increased by 25% .
A systematic review of the literature on biotin efficiency in hair and nail growth was conducted. There were 18 reported cases of biotin used for hair and nail changes. In all cases, patients receiving biotin supplementation had an underlying pathology for poor hair or nail growth and all cases showed evidence of clinical improvement after receiving biotin. In cases where people suffer from brittle nail syndrome or uncombable hair, biotin supplementation may be of benefit. However more studies need to be conducted on supplementation in healthy individuals .
Vitamin C is known as ascorbic acid and is an essential vitamin with antioxidant properties necessary for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues. It is involved in the formation of collagen, absorption of iron, the functioning of the immune system, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones and teeth. Vitamin C is also a water soluble vitamin so it needs to be consumed daily through nutrition or through supplementation. Vitamin C maintains healthy skin by creating and promoting the expansion of collagen. A Vitamin C deficiency disease is scurvy, which is categorised by skin fragility, bleeding gums, corkscrew hairs and impaired wound healing . Vitamin C can be found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables such as, citrus fruits like oranges and orange juice, capsicum, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli, brussel sprouts and potatoes.
Studies have found that people consuming more vitamin C were less likely to have wrinkles. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined associations between nutrient intakes and skin ageing in 4025 women from 40 – 70 years old. The results found that higher Vitamin C intakes were associated with a lower likelihood of a wrinkled appearance and senile dryness .
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help prevent oxidative stress and is important for the functioning of many of the body’s organs. It helps to maintain healthy skin, vision and functioning of the immune system. Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin which means it is absorbed in fat and your body will store it in its tissue until it’s needed. Vitamin E is available through many of our food sources, such as sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, spinach, broccoli, soybeans, mango and tomato .
One study on twenty one individuals suffering hair loss found an increase of 34.5% in hair growth after supplementing with Vitamin E. The individuals were monitored for the number of hairs in a pre-determined area of their scalp as well as the weight of 20 strands of 1cm length hair clippings before supplementation, after 4 months and after 8 months. The individuals were split into groups, placebo and the Vitamin E group. After 8 months the number of hairs in the Vitamin E group had increased by 34.5% as compared to a 0.1% from the placebo group. This study demonstrated that supplementation with Vitamin E increases hair number in volunteers suffering hair loss .
Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, meaning that it dissolves in fat and stored in the tissue for when the body needs them. This means it is easier for the body to absorb and store fat-soluble vitamins and to store more than you need as they aren’t being removed by the kidneys once the need is met . Vitamin A is an important vitamin for immune function, vision and cellular communication. It plays a critical role in cell growth and the normal formation and maintenance of the heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs.  Vitamin A can be found in many food sources such as beef liver, sweet potato, spinach, pumpkin, carrots, mangoes, eggs, apricots and many more.
All cells need Vitamin A to grow, which is why it is an important vitamin for the growth and regeneration of hair, nails and skin cells. Vitamin A helps skin glands make a substance called sebum, which helps moisturise the scalp and keep the hair healthy. Studies have shown the importance of Vitamin A for the maintenance of skin, hair and sebaceous glands as the detrimental effects can be seen through either Vitamin A toxicity or deficiency.  Studies show that diets low in vitamin A can also lead to hair loss .
1: Johnson EJ, Russell RM. Beta-Carotene. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. London and New York: Informa Healthcare; 2010:115-20.
 Ross CA. Vitamin A. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. London and New York: Informa Healthcare; 2010:778-91.
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