6 Ways Your Nutrition Can Affect Your Hair, Skin, and More
Many people attribute shiny hair, glowing skin, and beautiful nails to good genes or a meticulous beauty routine, but you shouldn’t underestimate the value of good nutrition. A healthy diet provides many important beauty nutrients that affect how you look and feel every day. Here’s a look at six ways nutrition affects your hair, skin, and more.
Of course, no magic food or supplement will keep you looking young forever, but nutrition plays a major role in how gracefully you age. That’s because your skin, hair, and nails are constantly renewing themselves. To do that effectively, you need to provide your body with a consistent supply of the right nutrients.
Did you know that your hair, skin, and nails are made mostly of proteins like elastin, collagen, and keratin? These essential building blocks provide strength, elasticity, and keep wrinkles at bay.
If your diet includes meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, and legumes, you probably get plenty of high-quality protein through your diet. But, if you’re on a restricted diet that requires you to limit some of those foods, you may not be getting enough, and that will eventually show in your nails, hair, skin, and even your muscle tone.
Keep in mind that if you work out a lot, your protein needs are even higher. And, the body needs additional protein to repair possible damage, after surgery or injury, for instance. To get your beauty-boosting daily supply of protein, have about two servings of protein-dense foods every day, and more if your lifestyle requires it.
Chronic fatigue and lack of energy are symptoms of iron deficiency, but the skin, hair, and nails also suffer when you have an iron deficiency. Skin, for example, can become itchy or overly pale, and you might even notice cracking at the corners of your mouth. Nails break easily, develop ridges or stripes, and in severe cases, become spoon-shaped. Besides that, you may experience hair loss, or your hair might become dull and brittle.
Meat is the best dietary source of iron, especially red meat. If you’re on a plant-based diet, you can get iron from whole grains and legumes, although it’s not as easily absorbed. Vitamin C can enhance iron absorption, so consider having orange juice or another vitamin C-rich food with your meals.
Getting iron and other organic vitamins and nutrients from a high-quality daily supplement is also a good option for filling in any nutritional gaps in your diet.
3. B Vitamins
Swapping out white bread and breakfast cereal for whole-grain bread and oatmeal will boost your intake of several key nutrients. Whole grains are rich in vitamin E (a potent antioxidant), B vitamins, and essential fats.
B vitamins are super important to your beauty routine. When you’re deficient, you’ll likely have dull, itchy, dry skin. Your skin will also heal more slowly, and you may notice more breakouts and hyperpigmentation if your diet is short on B vitamins.
A deficiency in B vitamins can also lead to hair loss, brittle or weak hair, and an itchy scalp. And, vitamin B 12 is also essential for healthy and strong nails. In addition to whole grains, eggs, dark green leafy vegetables, seeds, and nuts are all rich in B vitamins.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Not all fat is bad. But, before you get too excited, we’re not talking about fried foods and pastries here. We’re talking about essential omega-3 fatty acids that come from fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and other healthy food sources.
These fats are called essential because the body can’t produce them on its own, you have to consume them, and your body needs them to function properly.
If your skin, scalp, nails, and hair are excessively dry, you probably aren’t getting enough healthy fats in your diet. Omega-3s are key for producing certain hormones that are necessary for regulating the immune system and inflammation throughout the body.
They’re important for healthy skin because they fight inflammation, which is common in skin conditions like acne, eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. Be sure to include fatty fish like salmon and tuna in your diet a couple of times a week, snack on nuts and seeds, or take a flaxseed, algae oil, or a fish oil supplement to boost your intake of essential fats.
5. Vitamin C and Other Antioxidants
Our bodies use vitamin C to make collagen, which is like your skin’s structural cement. It’s the fibrous tissue under the skin’s surface that gives it support, shape, and plumpness. Although the body can produce its own collagen, production decreases gradually as you age.
When we are exposed to air pollution and the sun’s rays, harmful oxidation reactions occur in the skin and throughout the body. Antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E assist the body in neutralizing these harmful by-products, called free radicals.
Increasing your intake of antioxidants can help slow down the aging process by preventing wrinkles and sagging. It can also protect the skin from sunburn and make it more resilient when it’s exposed to environmental pollution.
To maximize your antioxidant intake, include a variety of colorful fruits and veggies in your diet every day. Eat whole grains and look for antioxidants in your daily multivitamin.
6. Hydration and Flavonoids
Antioxidants and flavonoids can both protect your skin from sun damage, while hydration is essential for the overall appearance and health of your skin, nails, and hair. Staying well hydrated and consuming flavonoids also improved the delivery of nutrients throughout the body by increasing blood flow.
Of course, drinking lots of water is essential for staying hydrated, but where do flavonoids come from? Well, they’re abundant in fruits and veggies plus green, black, and white tea. Or, if you’re having “one of those days” you can get your daily flavonoids from a glass of red wine or by eating some dark chocolate. (Just don’t forget that moderation is key!)
The Bottom Line
Of course, a good beauty routine is important for healthy skin, hair, and nails. But you’ve got to take care of your body from the inside out to get the best results. Eating a healthy diet and taking a high-quality multivitamin every day will not only enhance your beauty routine, but it will also have a positive impact on your overall health and energy levels on the day-to-day.