Monday, April 11, 2011

What to Eat for Strong and Healthy Hair and Nails

Strong and Healthy Hair and NailsCertain foods can improve the way you look. The following nutrients will give your hair and nails extra luster, strength and shine.

Biotin (a.k.a. vitamin H) can improve hair that is splitting or thinning as well as strengthen weakened nails. Taken with zinc and the corticosteroid clobetasol propionate, biotin has even been used to treat alopecia, an autoimmune skin disease marked by the loss of hair. A deficiency in biotin may result in brittle hair or even hair loss. An easy way to remember: The H in vitamin H stands for hair. Try: Bananas, beans, cauliflower, eggs, lentils, peanuts and salmon.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
To get shinier hair, introduce more omega-3s into your diet, which “help support scalp health and may give your locks extra luster and shine.” The three active ingredients—alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid—are all essential fatty acids and "are important components of the stratum corneum, which is the outermost layer of the epidermis that contains keratin and has water-holding capabilities. Deficiency in essential fatty acids can result in dry scalp or dandruff." Try: Eggs, flaxseed, fish oil, mackerel, salmon, sardines, spinach, tuna and walnuts.

Protein intake is important for many reasons, notably when it comes to hair and nails. Both "are made of structural proteins known as keratin, so adequate dietary protein is important for providing the building blocks for growing strong hair and nails, lean meats are the easiest way to pack protein into your diet—just make sure to steer clear of any that are overly fatty. Try: Chicken, eggs, lean red meats, lowfat dairy, nuts, seafood, soybeans and whole grains.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A helps produce a conditioning substance for the scalp known as sebum, which keeps hair looking and feeling healthy. In addition to these beauty benefits, this vitamin contributes to better eye health and immune system function, which keeps you vital and strong from head to toe. Try: Apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, Cheddar cheese, egg yolks, mangoes, oatmeal, spinach and sweet potatoes.

Zinc is another nutrient active in helping the immune system function properly, and DiBona also notes that it plays an important role in the formation of your connective tissues. Try: Cashews, green beans, lean beef, lobster, oysters and soybeans.

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