Are you frustrated with dry skin, cracked lips, or dull hair? Natural dietary supplements or vitamins for hair and skin may be the answer you’re looking for. But while there’s no shortage of vitamins for skin and hair on the market, not all of them are created equal.
Let’s look at biotin, one of the hair vitamins found in many foods and available over the counter in supplement form at pharmacies and supermarkets. Some findings show that cigarette smoking may cause a deficiency in biotin, with symptoms that include:
- Loss of hair color
- Red scaly rash around the eyes, nose, and mouth
- Thinning of the hair
Biotin has been found to be “likely effective” in treating biotin deficiency and is safe when used in recommended amounts (read the supplement label). Could this be the hair growth vitamin you’ve been looking for? As with any vitamin for skin or hair, always consult with your physician before you try it.
Omega-3 fatty acids are another vitamin for hair. Omega-3s may boost the shine in your hair and keep your tender scalp from flaking. A study published in September 2017 in the journal Biochimica et Biophysica Acta found that dietary supplementation with fish oil — filled with omega 3 fatty acids — could have therapeutic value to many inflammatory skin conditions.
Another study, published in March 2015 in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, revealed that taking omega-3 and omega-6 supplements for six months, along with antioxidants, acts efficiently against hair loss and improves hair density.
It’s not uncommon for women of childbearing age to have anemia due to blood loss during menstrual periods, resulting in hair loss. Iron deficiency is a usual cause of anemia. Iron replacement is generally done through vitamin and mineral supplements. Your doctor can do a simple test to check for anemia.
Zinc also has antioxidant properties and is vital to your body’s resistance to infection and for tissue repair. High doses of zinc are toxic, though, so talk to your doctor about your diet to see if you need to supplement.
Vitamin C is another vitamin for skin as it helps your skin retain collagen, giving it a smoother appearance. A study published in November 2017 in the journal Nutrients showed that vitamin C also helps in wound healing and helps to control inflammation.
Many hair vitamins and vitamins for skin have the power to give you a younger-looking complexion, shinier strands, and stronger nails. Just make sure to check with a doctor before adding any of these supplements to your routine.
Biotin Is an Amazing Hair Vitamin
Found in foods like peanut butter and bananas, biotin is a B vitamin that supports your skin, nerves, digestive tract, and metabolism. Supplements can be used to help reduce hair loss and encourage nail growth.
“Individuals with type 2 diabetes should also look into taking a biotin supplement,” says David Bank, MD, the director of the Center for Dermatology in Mt. Kisco, New York. “Consuming biotin in combination with chromium picolinate [a mineral found in certain foods] may help improve blood sugar levels.” The recommended daily intake of biotin is 35 micrograms a day, which you may already be getting in your diet, Dr. Bank says.
Fern Extract Has Skin-Saving Properties
Fern extract has been researched for close to 20 years for its skin-saving abilities. Indeed, a recent study found that it provides protection from ultraviolet rays. It can also be used to treat skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and vitiligo.
“Fern extract has been shown to have a noteworthy anti-inflammatory effect on skin tissue,” Bank says. Ask your doctor for proper dosage if you’re interested in taking a supplement. “The dose is based on weight, which correlates with the amount of skin somebody has,” explains Bank.
Iron Makes Your Skin Glow
“Without iron, your hair can become dull, thin, and dry,” Bank says. “[And] without iron, your nails could become brittle and break easily.”
Iron, found in foods including spinach, oysters, and cashews, also helps make your skin glow by activating B vitamins. Soheil Simzar, MD, a clinical instructor of dermatology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a dermatologist in Santa Monica, California, recommends iron supplements only to patients with an iron deficiency. A doctor can do a simple blood test to find out if you’re deficient and help you decide how much iron you need to take. However: “Too much iron can cause free-radical damage to skin structures,” warns Simzar.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Help Prevent Wrinkles
Omega-3s, found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, regulate oil production and help keep your skin moist.
“They also delay the skin’s aging process to prevent wrinkles,” Bank says. One 2005 study found that EPA, a type of omega-3 found primarily in fish oil, helps block the release of ultraviolet-induced enzymes that eat away at your skin’s collagen, causing lines and sagging skin. What’s more, omega-3s can boost your hair’s shine, prevent your hair from drying out, and keep your scalp from flaking. “The recommended dose to reap the benefits is 600 mg of [omega-3s] per day,” Simzar says. However, if you have a history of mood disorders, fish allergies, diabetes, or high blood pressure, check with your doctor first, he advises.
Vitamin C Is a Hair Growth Vitamin
“Vitamin C can improve hair growth, fight dandruff, stop hair loss, and lead to thicker hair,” while a deficiency can cause split ends, says Bank. A 2013 study found that people who took a vitamin E and C supplement appeared to have less dryness and tighter, brighter skin after four months.
When it comes to taking vitamins for hair and skin, how much you should take also depends on your gender. Women 19 and older should take 75 milligrams (mg) a day, while men 19 and older should take 19 mg a day, Bank says. “Vitamin C increases the amount of iron that gets absorbed, which can be a problem for people with hemochromatosis, an iron-overload disease,” he explains.
Vitamin E Fights Fine Lines and Other Signs of Aging
“Vitamin E, like vitamin C, is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight free-radical damage that leads to fine lines,” Simzar says. A 2010 study also found that men who took this vitamin for skin and hair grew more hair than those given a placebo.
It’s best to take vitamin E in gel cap form, since it’s fat soluble, Simzar says. Just be careful: High doses can cause bruising. “I recommend that my patients take it as recommended by their primary physicians,” says Simzar, who notes that the recommended dose for adults is 30IU.
Add this nutrient to your diet by eating vitamin E-rich foods like avocado, olive oil, and wheat germ. “Most or all of [your vitamin E requirement] can usually be obtained from your diet,” Simzar says.