Good Hair and Skin Vitamins: A Woman's Guide to Simple Supplements for Keeping a Youthful Appearance
Is every day a bad hair day? Are your wrinkles getting wrinkles? If they are, maybe good hair and skin vitamins and other nutritional supplements are right for you.
"The same foods that are good for your body and your health overall are good for your hair, including foods that are high in protein, low in carbohydrates and have a reduced fat content," says dermatologist Michael Reed, a physician at the New York University Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Reed says what you put on your plate may not put hair on your head, but the right good hair and skin vitamins can help the hair and supple skin you still have remain healthy longer.
The kinds of deficiencies of good hair and skin vitamins that lead to female hair loss and early wrinkling are so subtle that most nutritional evaluations would miss them. Vitamin B12, for instance, is a good hair and skin vitamin that your hair just can't live without.
"It's not uncommon to find a B12 deficiency in women who come in seeking treatment for hair loss," says Ted Daly, a clinical professor of dermatology at Nassau University Medical Center. Dr. Daly says that taking B12 supplements even when there are no other signs of anemia or vitamin 12 deficiency can sometimes improve female hair loss.
And while you're reaching for a supplement that contains vitamin B12, look to make sure that contains another B vitamin, biotin.
The experts say that this hair and skin vitamin is also essential for hair growth. It's so important for healthy hair that biotin supplements are typically prescribed with medical hair loss treatments such as minoxidil (Roganie, Ronoxidil) for women and Propecia and Proscar for men.
Dr. Daly usually tells his patients to take up to 3 mg of biotin daily to prevent and reverse hair loss. The biotin supplement has a side effect: healthy skin and stronger nails. The 3 mg of biotin Daly and other experts recommend is a great deal more than the RDI.
Mainstream nutritionists recommend just 300 micrograms (one-tenth of 3 mg) of biotin a day to prevent deficiency. That's just not enough of this most frequently overlooked good hair and skin vitamins to maintain healthy hair.
Part of the good news about good hair and skin vitamins like B12 and biotin is that hair care products, including bleaches, dyes, perms, shampoos, and blow dryers, don't undo their benefits. Hair care products used incorrectly can cause breakage, but they don't damage the roots of hair. It's possible that a perming solution or a dye could inflame the scalp and cause problems, but it is very, very rare that hair care trumps the beneficial effects of hair and skin vitamins.
The rest of the good news about good hair and skin vitamins that there are other supplements that also help. Drs. Daly and Reed say that relatively high levels of supplemental zinc, up to 80 mg a day, help deactivate dihydrotestosterone in the shaft of the hair.
A high concentration of zinc keeps this male hormone from activating the immune system to attack hair. A high concentration of zinc, however, has to be balanced by a high concentration of copper, so the experts recommend taking up to 3 mg of copper a day when you take zinc.
It also helps to make sure you're getting an adequate supply of the good fatty acids, the omega-3's found in most balanced nutritional supplements. Be sure to check the label. And adding a few iron-rich plant foods like brewer's yeast or broccoli can also prevent anemia, a commonly missed cause of hair loss in women.
If the B vitamins are the hair care nutrients of the hair and skin vitamins, which of the good hair and skin vitamins help maintain healthy skin? For healthy hair, think B. For healthy skin, think E.
Experts agree that the main cause of wrinkled skin is exposure to the sun. The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays penetrate the skin and activate molecules of oxygen.
UV radiation makes the oxygen molecule "spin." The radiation splits a molecule of O2 into two free radicals of O. The newly created toxic free radicals of oxygen attack proteins, lipids, and DNA. They link proteins together to make "leathery" skin, and the attack the collagen that keeps skin supple and wrinkle-free. UV exposure causes not just wrinkling but also age spots and cancer.
Vitamin E stops the action of UV rays on skin. Vitamin E provides a chemical called alpha-tocopherol. This chemical in turn recharges other antioxidants that keep skin healthy. Let's look at these nutrients one by one.
Aside from vitamin E, the chief maintenance good hair and skin vitamins are the carotenoids. These are a group of colorful chemicals found in orange and yellow plant foods such as carrots, apricots, peaches, apricots, tomatoes, and pumpkins.
When carotenoids in food reach the skin, they become the some of the most important antagonists to the free radicals of oxygen released by UV rays. Beta-carotene does double duty by providing a yellow pigment that helps the skin tan. Of all the carotenoids, however, lycopene does the most work to fight aging. This pigment found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, guavas, and watermelons soaks up the most free radicals to repair sun-damaged skin.
You especially need carotenoids to prevent sunburn. After age 80, skin creams containing carotenoids are the best way to deliver these antioxidants to sun-damaged skin.
Just as the essential fatty acids work with good hair and skin vitamins to keep healthy hair, they also prevent blistering, although not aging, in skin after sun exposure. EPA and DHA prevent the formation of inflammatory chemicals. This allows the skin to regenerate at a normal pace.
Vitamin E helps the fatty acids themselves to stay free-radical free, both in the body and even in the bottle sitting on the shelf. (Most fish oil supplements are mixed with vitamin E before encapsulation to keep them fresh.)
People who live in the United States have trouble getting sunscreens that protect against a special subset of the sun's ultraviolet radiation called UVA. Wearing vitamin C creams and taking vitamin C by mouth stop the aging reactions caused by UVA.
The thing to remember is that the good hair and skin vitamins C and E together has a greater effect than taking them separately. Essentially, 1 IU of vitamin E can substitute for 1 mg of vitamin C.
Taking a daily dose of 2,000 mg of vitamin C with a daily dose 1,000 IU of vitamin E for a short time, like a 2-week summer vacation, is just as sun-protective as taking 3,000 mg of vitamin C every day without the vitamin E. The combination of C and E is especially protective of your skin if you smoke or if you're exposed to second-hand smoke.
Does a "one-a-day" supplement provide all the good hair and skin vitamins you need to maintain a healthy appearance? Here's what you need to look out for:
A "balanced" hair and skin vitamin supplement won't prevent aging unless it contains zinc.
As little as 15 mg of zinc every day protects skin, while you might need to take up to 80 mg of zinc every day (in a balanced supplement plus a little more zinc) for damaged hair.
There's a simple way to tell when you can stop taking your extra zinc and just rely on the daily balanced nutritional supplement. When zinc tablets stop tasting bad, you don't need to take any more. Your taste buds become insensitive to zinc when your body has a little more than enough.
What if you protect your skin by using alpha-hydroxy acids and moisturizers? Do you still need to keep up your daily hair and skin vitamin supplementation routine? Generally speaking, the answer is yes.
Exfoliants remove tired and dead skin cells. They expose new skin cells to the surface, where they can take their turn being exposed to the sun. It's best to keep your skin healthy from the inside out with daily, balance nutritional supplementation.
Similarly, rinses and conditioners can add body to your hair, but the hair you're shampooing is not living tissue. To keep your hair in good condition, you can only nourish the roots.
Antioxidants in shampoo keep the color in your hair from being damaged by the sun, but antioxidants are also included in shampoos used on wigs and toupees. Ultimately, the best way to keep antioxidants in your hair is to make sure you have a balanced blend of good hair and skin vitamins in your daily nutrition.
A Trustworthy Comprehensive Product
One company that produces a good hair and skin vitamin supplement is Xtend-Life Natural Products from New Zealand. Their flagship product, Total Balance
is good hair and skin vitamin balanced supplement and more! It contains all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients you need in a single, easy-to-take blend.
We take it ourselves, and are very happy with the results on our skin and hair as well as the rest of our body.