Nutritional support for production of healthy hair, skin, and fingernails includes a balance of antioxidants and nutrients like Vitamin C, zinc, selenium, biotin, and more. Learn how to feed your body with the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants needed to improve health & appearance of hair, skin, & nails.
- Hair, skin and nails all contain a specific protein called keratin
- Keratin is a strong protein due to high amounts the amino acid, cysteine
- The dietary form of cysteine, N-acetyl-l-cysteine can help increase keratin strength and the health of your hair, skin and nails
- Hair, skin and nails are susceptible to free radical damage and antioxidants can improve hair, skin and nail health
- Other important nutrients for hair, skin and nail health include biotin, glycine, vitamin C, zinc and selenium
Promoting healthy hair, skin, and nails
Have you ever looked for ways to improve the strength and appearance of your hair, skin, or fingernails? From cosmetics, lotions, creams, and shampoos all the way to nutritional supplements - there is no shortage of products advertised for their hair, skin, and nails benefits.
But how do you know what really works?
The first thing you need to know is what your hair, skin, and fingernails are made of and how your body forms them. Then we can discuss how to help make them all stronger and healthier.
The reason that you often see hair, skin, and nails grouped together is because they all contain a specific protein called keratin. While your hair and fingernails are composed entirely of keratin, your skin is much more complex with multiple types of cells, proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates throughout it's multiple layers - but keratin is a vital component of the skin and that is one reason why nutrients that are good for your hair and nails are also good for your skin.
Keratin can be found throughout the animal kingdom as hooves, horns, claws, and even bird beaks.
What is Keratin?
Keratin, like all proteins, is built out of amino acid "building blocks" that are assembled into full proteins by special enzymes. Keratin takes the shape of a double helix structure similar in appearance to DNA but much stronger.
Keratin is so chemically strong that they can withstand strong acids, bases, and enzymes that typically destroy other proteins. You may experience the chemical strength of keratin when attempting to unclog a drain with harsh chemicals that leave hair intact.
Your body produces different types of keratin that have their own unique properties based on their specific amino acid composition, but they are still comprised of the same building blocks and produced in a similar fashion. While there are over 18 different amino acids in keratin proteins, one of the most important is one called cysteine.
Why is Keratin so strong?
The strength of keratin comes from the high amounts of the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine. The sulfur component of cysteine allows it to strongly bind with the sulfur component of another cysteine molecule forming a "di-sulfide bond" that is very strong and hard to break. More cysteine in the keratin allows for more disulfide bonds to form, and more disulfide bonds makes stronger keratin. The high cysteine/sulfur content in keratin is also why hair smells so bad when it burns.
Ensuring your body has enough dietary cysteine is a good start towards building stronger keratin and improving the health of your hair, skin, and nails. The absorbable dietary form of cysteine, N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC), is an essential component of the Proprietary Blend formula, therefore found in all Proprietary Blend products. You can get cysteine naturally in your diet from high protein foods plus vegetables that you typically associate with a sulfur odor like garlic, broccoli, and cabbage.
Other Nutrients for Hair, Skin, and Nails
Hair, skin, and nails are all susceptible to free radical damage that can damage cells and accelerate the aging process. For this reason, many antioxidant nutrients can play an important role in improving the health of hair, skin, and nails. Incorporating naturally potent antioxidants is a good start towards improving the health and appearance of your hair, skin, and nails.
Proprietary Blend supplements include several natural antioxidants, but the Proprietary Blend ingredient itself is especially potent because of it's ability to activate the body's natural antioxidant systems that are known to provide the best protection.
Biotin, also called Vitamin B7, is essential for several metabolic and enzymatic processes in the body, including those associated with building proteins like keratin. Biotin deficiency is characterized by thinning hair, hair loss, and skin rashes so it is usually included in products for hair, skin, and nails. While deficiency definitely causes hair and skin problems, there is little evidence showing that supplementing large doses of biotin improves hair growth.
However, since it is indeed a vital nutrient and safe to consume at low to moderate doses, it is usually included in multivitamins and supplements for hair skin and nails. Proprietary Blend TotalHealth MultiVitamin provides 150 mcg of biotin, or 51% of the recommended daily intake.
Biotin is found in a wide variety of foods such as beef liver, egg yolks, yeast, salmon, cauliflower, and whole grains. It is also produced by probiotic bacteria in your digestive tract. Deficiency is rare without some other confounding factors such as genetic variations, digestive disorders, gastrointestinal imbalances, and use of some medications.
Glycine is an important amino acid for the formation of keratin, plus collagen and elastin that are important for skin health. Glycine is a small amino acid that allows for tight coiling of the double helix protein structure in keratin, and triple helix structures of collagen.
Glycine is an essential component of the Proprietary Blend formula, therefore found in all Proprietary Blend products.
Vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen and elastin that is needed for healthy skin. It also helps in the formation of the small capillary blood vessels that deliver nutrients and moisture to the skin.
Some of the primary symptoms of Vitamin C include problems with hair, skin, and fingernails including dry/rough/bumpy skin, red hair follicles, bent/coiled hair, spoon-shaped fingernails, spotted/striped fingernails, and slow healing wounds,
Olivamine® TotalHealth MultiVitamin contains 180 mg (300% DV) of Vitamin C per serving. Good food sources of Vitamin C include citrus fruits, peppers, dark leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, Brussel's sprouts)
Zinc deficiency is associated with brittle and spotted fingernails, acne, and hair loss. This is because zinc is required for some of the enzymatic reactions needed to produce healthy keratin. Hair follicles and skin contain some of the fastest replicating cells in the body meaning they have to synthesize new DNA more often than slower replicating cells. Zinc is essential for DNA synthesis and replication, so the fastest replicating cells are often the first to suffer from zinc deficiency.
Proprietary Blend TotalHealth MultiVitamin contains 30 mg (200% DV) of zinc per serving. Other dietary sources include seafood, red meat, eggs, beans/legumes, nuts, and dark green leafy vegetables.
Like magnesium and zinc, selenium is mineral that is important for several enzymatic reactions throughout the body, especially some required for neutralizing free-radicals and replenishing antioxidants. Free radicals are associated with early aging and known to damage hair follicles and skin cells, resulting in hair loss and skin problems. Selenium deficiency is also associated with dandruff, and that is why most dandruff shampoos contain selenium.
Proprietary Blend TotalHealth MultiVitamin contains 100 mcg (143% DV) of selenium per serving. Be aware, too much selenium can have toxicity issues, so it is not recommended to consume more than 400 mcg of selenium daily without proper blood testing and medical supervision. Food sources of selenium are similar to those for zinc and include seafood, red meat, eggs, beans/legumes, nuts (especially Brazil nuts), and dark green leafy vegetables.
What Are Your Hair, Skin, and Nails telling you?
The nutrients above only represent some of the nutrients needed for healthy hair, skin, and nails - but there are many more that play a role. In fact, the condition of your hair, skin, and nails can give you important warning signs about potential nutrient deficiencies.
- Vitamin A (ridges)
- Vitamin C (spoon shape, white lines, red spots)
- Calcium (brittle nails, ridges, white spots)
- Magnesium (brittle nails)
- Zinc (white spots)
- B12 (spoon shaped nails)
- Iron (spoon shaped nails, pale color)
- Biotin (pale color)
- Iodine (brittle nails)
- Protein (cuticles tear easily)
- Omega-3 (brittle or soft nails)
- Vitamin A (dry hair, dandruff)
- Vitamin E (dry hair)
- Vitamin C
- Calcium (coarse hair)
- Zinc (coarse, brittle, thinning hair, dandruff)
- B2/riboflavin (hair loss)
- B5 (hair loss)
- Cysteine (loss of hair pigmentation)
- Biotin (Hair loss, dry hair)
- Vitamin D (Hair loss)
- Omega-3 (dry hair, dandruff)
- Selenium (dandruff)
- Iodine (dry hair)
- Protein (dry hair)
- Vitamin A (acne, dryness, bumps on the back of arms / cheeks / thighs / buttocks, rough skin)
- Vitamin C (dryness, delayed wound healing)
- Vitamin E (acne, blisters, excessive scarring, stretch marks, dryness, rough skin)
- Vitamin D (small red bumps on back of upper arms / cheeks / thighs / buttocks)
- B Vitamins (Dandruff, Athlete’s foot, pale skin)
- B6 (acne during menstruation)
- B2 / riboflavin (dermatitis)
- B3 / niacin (dermatitis)
- Biotin (dermatitis, face rash)
- Antioxidants (poor wound healing)
- Cysteine (skin lesions)
- Omega-3’s (dry itchy skin, scaly/flaking skin, cracking/peeling of fingertips, small red bumps on back of upper arms / cheeks / thighs / buttocks, mixed oily and dry skin, eczema, poor wound healing)
- Calcium (dry skin, psoriasis)
- Zinc (acne, eczema, dandruff, red stretch marks)
- Iron (pale skin)
Recommended Supplements for Hair, Skin, and Nails
If you are looking to improve the health and appearance of your hair skin and nails, we recommend trying our Proprietary Blend TotalHealth MultiVitamin, ImmuneHealth and VitalHealth supplements to give you all of the nutrients discussed above.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been reviewed by the FDA. These products are dietary supplements and are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The decision to use these products should be discussed with a trusted healthcare provider. The authors and the publisher of this work have made every effort to use sources believed to be reliable to provide information that is accurate and compatible with the standards generally accepted at the time of publication. The authors and the publisher shall not be liable for any special, consequential, or exemplary damages resulting, in whole or in part, from the readers’ use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this article. The publisher has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third party Internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.