Do you struggle with bad skin, dull breaking hair or weak nails? The solution might be just a few bites away. For fabulous hair, skin and nails you have to start with healthy hair, skin and nails and that means feeding them the nutrition they need. Like Lisa Drayer, R.D., author of The Beauty Diet, says, your skin can’t look its best unless it is getting the nutrients it needs. So what nutrients do your skin, hair and nails need to be healthy? Protein for one since hair especially is made up of keratin which is a protein. Other musts are the B vitamin, Biotin, omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids, zinc, vitamin A, iron, selenium, vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium and lots of antioxidant foods.
Foods For Healthy Skin, Hair and Nails
Here are some of the foods for healthy skin, hair and nails that give you those nutrients that experts recommend.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids – Omega-6 such as found in safflower oil, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and sunflower seeds helps with dry flaky skin and omega-3 such as found in flaxseeds, chia seeds, dark green leafy veggies, olive oil, and wild salmon and other coldwater fatty fish helps keep away wrinkles and fine lines on skin. Salmon also has selenium and vitamin D. AFA bluegreen algae also gives you the exact ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids that the human body needs.
Zinc – Pumpkin seeds, oysters, beef, wheat germ, nuts, eggs, chickpeas, fortified cereals, sesame seeds, milk, yogurt, miso and cashews give you zinc necessary for supporting the oil of hair follicles and growing skin and nails. Zinc also helps develop white blood cells that are a part of your immune system that destroy foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses.
Vitamin A – Spinach, sweet potatoes, apricots, squash, pumpkin, liver, eggs, carrots and cantaloupe provide this vitamin for nourishing skin and hair cells. Carrots in particular help keep skin from producing too many cells that can trap dead skin cells and cause pores to clog up according to Howard Murad, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.
Selenium – Brazil nuts, lean meats, whole grains, beans and legumes, oysters, clams, crab, sardines, and canned tuna have this trace mineral needed for the body to make antioxidant enzymes and protect elastin which is the protein that keeps skin smooth and reduces sagging. Selenium has antioxidant properties that help protect body cells from damage and is important to our metabolism, immune response and thyroid function.
Vitamin C – According to a study reported in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants taking 4 mg. of vitamin C every day over a 3 year period presented with 11% less wrinkling of the skin. This is because vitamin C is needed to produce collagen and has antioxidant properties to protect cells from free radical damage. Eating sweet potatoes, kiwi, Bell pepper, oranges, strawberries and broccoli are good ways to get vitamin C into your diet and sweet potatoes also have vitamin A.
Biotin – Eggs, peanuts, poultry, brown rice, mushrooms, almonds, wheat bran, salmon and avocados give you this B vitamin needed to promote healthy hair growth, increase hair elasticity which means less breakage, protect against dryness and keep the scalp healthy. Increasing your intake of probiotics like acidophilus and bifidus, can help your body increase its natural production of biotin.
Iron – Especially good for strong nails, iron can be found in lentils which are not only a good source of iron, but also protein. Pairing iron with vitamin C foods helps the body absorb the iron. Spinach is not only a good source of iron, but also contains folate, lutein good for eye health, vitamin C and E, potassium, calcium, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids that can help cell growth and have water to help keep skin hydrated and reduce wrinkles.
Vitamin E – Almonds and other nuts, green leafy vegetables like spinach, seeds, olives, asparagus, and eggs with lots of vitamin E help protect skin from damaging UV light from the sun. Walnuts and many other nuts not only give you vitamin E, but also omega-3 fatty acids.
Calcium – Calcium is not only needed for strong bones and teeth, but also for strong nails. Dairy foods are a great source of calcium, but yogurt in particular is one of the higher dairy sources. If you don’t do well with dairy, you can also get calcium from spinach, bok choy, mustard greens, sardines, fortified cereals and juices, beans, tofu, and fish.
Antioxidants – Bright colored vegetables and fruits are the ideal way to get antioxidants to fight off the damage to skin and hair cells in particular. Tomatoes have lycopene that helps protect your skin from free radicals caused by damaging sun rays. The body is better able to absorb lycopene from cooked tomatoes. Drinking green tea is another great way to get antioxidant protection and also has the extra benefit of anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Dark chocolate is loaded with flavonols which are a type of antioxidant that can protect skin from damage from the sun. Be sure to look for dark chocolate though that has a minimum of 60% cacao for high antioxidant value. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, blueberries give you the most antioxidant protection out of 40 fruits and vegetables they were compared to.
Filling in the Nutritional Gaps
If you have a hard time getting all these nutrients into your diet, nutritional supplements may be the answer for you. This algae supplement with 9 different algae and sea weeds gives you minerals and phytonutrients from lake and sea including dulse which is high in plant-based protein, iron, calcium, vitamins B6, 12, and A, Dunaliella salina which is loaded with beta-carotene for forming vitamin A, antioxidants and polyunsaturated fatty acids, kelp and bladderwrack with vitamin C and E as well as calcium and other trace minerals to nourish skin and hair, Eckolnia cava with antioxidant power to fight off oxidative stress, and fucoidan found to support collagen production. It is also organic, Halal, paleo, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, and GMO free. Then there is this algae/antioxidant supplement formulated with natural antioxidants including wild blueberry, green tea, carnosine, and organic AFA bluegreen algae providing a way to get the vitamin D the body needs without the exposure to sunlight that can damage skin and get the nutrients skin needs to restore elasticity from the inside out.
If you are looking to get better looking, stronger and healthier skin, hair and nails, look no further than your refrigerator or pantry. You can literally eat your way to this goal by just adding some of these healthy foods for skin, hair and nails into your diet.
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