Essential Vitamins for Hair and Skin
Vitamin A- This fat-soluble vitamin is essential for the maintenance and healing of epithelial tissues, with skin being the largest expanse of epithelial tissue you've got. Best sources Egg yolks, oysters and nonfat milk. You can also get vitamin A from foods rich in beta carotene (see below), which the body can convert into vitamin A.Beta carotene German researchers found that as little as 30 milligrams a day (the equivalent of 11/2 cups of cooked carrots) can help prevent/reduce the redness and inflammation associated with sunburn. "Beta carotene accumulates in the skin, providing 24-hour protection against sun damage," says Ronald R. Watson, Ph.D., professor of public health research at Arizona Health Sciences Center in Tucson. Also, when combined with vitamin E, other carotenoids (cousins to beta carotene) like lutein seem to reduce redness associated with sunburn and reduce skin sensitivity to sunlight, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Best sources Dark-colored produce, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, broccoli and spinach.
Adequate intake of vitamin A is vital in helping to promote the growth and health of cells and tissues throughout the body, including the hair and scalp. Prolonged vitamin A deficiency can lead to hair loss and dandruff caused by the buildup of cellular debris in the hair follicles. The daily intake of vitamin A for adults is 5,000 IU (international units). The body actually gets vitamin A in two ways: from plant sources in the form of carotenoids, such as beta carotene, that convert to vitamin A in the body. These sources include red, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables as well as some dark green leafy vegetables. The body also gets vitamin A from animal sources in the form of retinol. Good animal sources include:
- fish oil
- fortified milk
- other foods fortified with vitamin A
All three of these B vitamins are essential to the normal formation of red blood cells or the hemoglobin (iron-containing) portion of red blood cells. The primary function of hemoglobin is to carry oxygen from the lungs to tissues in the body, including the hair. Healthy and strong hair is dependent on a constant supply of blood and oxygen. A deficiency of these B vitamins can cause reduced blood and oxygen supply to the hair, leading to increased hair shedding, damaged hair, and slow regrowth. The reference daily intake of vitamin B6 is 2.0 milligrams per day for the average adult. The best sources of vitamin B6 are protein-rich foods such as:
- leafy vegetables
- orange juice
- brewer’s yeast
- wheat germ
- some fortified cereals
Most enriched grain products, such as bread, flour, rice, macaroni, and noodles, must be fortified with folic acid according to a new law.
- other dairy foods
B vitamins help convent calories into energy for skirt metabolism and are components of enzymes that maintain normal skin function (including functioning of the oil-producing glands which keep skin moist and smooth) That's why poor intake of almost any B vitamin can cause dry or scaly skin. Best sources Poultry, red meat, fish, bananas temper whole grains, brewers yeast peanut butter and eggs
For people who eat a healthy diet, biotin deficiency is rare. Besides getting biotin from select food sources, biotin is also manufactured in our intestines by gut bacteria. In rare instances though, biotin deficiency can cause hair loss. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition researched two adult patients receiving TPN (total parenteral nutrition, which is a form of nutrition used by the very ill who cannot use their gut for digestion and must have specialized nutrition through a large catheter inserted directly into the vein) on a long-term basis. Both patients had severe loss of hair. These patients, due to their medical condition, did not manufacture biotin in their gut and consumed no biotin orally or parenterally. Daily supplementation of biotin resulted in the gradual regrowth of healthy hair.
- yeast breads
When taken internally this vitamin helps maintain collagen -- the underlying supporting structure of skin. But sun exposure (and stress) can drain vitamin C from the skin, leaving it vulnerable to damage from the environment (why ant aging creams and sunscreens have been infused with this potent antioxidant). Best sources Citrus fruits and juices, slow cantaloupe, strawberries, tomato sweet peppers and green peas
A vitamin C deficiency can cause the hair to be susceptible to problematic splitting and breaking. This usually only occurs with severe deficiency and can be reversed when vitamin C intake is increased. Vitamin C is essential to producing collagen, a connective tissue that gives structure by holding tissues in the body together, such as the tissue in hair. The reference daily intake for vitamin C is 60 milligrams for the average adult. People who smoke need twice as much vitamin C as nonsmokers. Vitamin C is found in plant sources such as:
- citrus fruits
- dark green leafy vegetables
Copper is a trace mineral that is essential for the formation of hemoglobin and is needed to carry oxygen in red blood cells. Hemoglobin is necessary for the maintenance of an adequate supply of blood to the hair shaft. A deficiency of copper can weaken the hair shaft and cause increased hair shedding. A deficiency rarely comes from not getting enough copper in the diet; instead, it usually comes from genetic problems or from too much zinc in the diet. Excess zinc from dietary supplements can inhibit the absorption of copper in the body. The reference daily intake of copper is 2.0 milligrams for the average adult. The best sources of copper include:
- organ meats, especially liver
Iron’s main job is to carry oxygen in the hemoglobin of red blood cells. Iron deficiency can lead to a condition called anemia and can lead to possible hair loss or increased hair shedding. Anemia can be easily diagnosed with a blood test and is characterized by fatigue, weakness, and general poor health. Anemia can be caused by more than just iron deficiency. The reference daily intake for iron is 18 milligrams. The recommended daily allowance of iron increases during pregnancy and breast-feeding. It also increases for women who are pre-menopausal due to blood and iron losses from the menstrual flow. There are two types of iron sources: heme and non-heme iron. Heme iron is absorbed in the body more easily. Heme iron sources include animal products such as meat. Non-heme iron comes from mostly plant foods, such as spinach, red kidney beans, and bran. It isis not absorbed as easily in the body as heme iron. You can enhance your body’s ability to absorb non-heme iron by consuming vitamin C sources and heme iron sources in the same meal.
Dandruff and hair loss are both conditions associated with zinc deficiency. Zinc is a mineral that promotes cell reproduction and tissue growth and repair. Zinc also functions in the maintenance of the oil-secreting glands attached to hair follicles. The reference daily intake of zinc is 15 milligrams for the average adult. Good sources of zinc include foods of animal origin, including seafood. Eggs and milk also supply zinc in smaller amounts. Whole-grain products, nuts, seeds, and legumes contain zinc, but in a form that is less available to the body.
Protein is needed by every cell in the body, including the cells needed in normal hair growth. Without adequate protein intake, the body cannot efficiently make new hair to replace the hair that has shed. Protein comes from:
- soy products
Water is one of the most important nutrients essential for life. Proper hydration is an important factor in healthy hair and in promoting good health. The recommended amount of water to drink each day is 64 ounces or eight 8-ounce glasses. Every cell and every system in the body uses water to function properly. Water is involved in the transport of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and many other nutrients.
This antioxidant help slow the aging of skin cells by reducing the production of an enzyme called collagenase, which breaks down collegen, causing the skin to sag and wrinkle according to a study in the journal Free Radical Biology & Medicine. And sun exposure can deplete vitamin E from the skin, making it more vulnerable to sun damage (why vitamin E is found in skin-care products from moisturizers to body washes). Best sources Salmon, legumes, extralean meat, almonds, leafy vegetables, and olive and sesame oils
Selenium The damaging effects of ultraviolet light are minimized by this antioxidant mineral, thereby reducing your risk for sunburn. In fact, low blood levels of selenium also increase your risk for skin cancer, say researchers at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Best sources Tuna, wheat germ, sesame seeds and whole grains
Zinc This trace mineral helps maintain collagen and elastin fibers that give skin its firmness, helping to prevent sagging and wrinkles. It also links together amino acids that are needed for the formation of collagen -- essential in wound healing. Best sources Seafood, turkey, pork, soybeans and mushrooms Other Reasons for Hair Loss
Nutritional deficiencies can be a reason for accelerated hair shedding or temporary hair loss. Conditions that may contribute to poor nutrition and cause hair loss as a side effect include eating disorders such as anorexia. Anorexia can cause severe malnutrition and cause a high proportion of hair follicles to stop their growth cycle. After several months, these hairs shed and the body is not equipped nutritionally to grow back new ones. Normal hair growth returns with adequate nutrition intake.
Rapid weight loss is another reason for accelerated hair shedding. Dropping weight too quickly and/or participating in a fad diet that is not nutritionally sound can cause imbalances in the body and cause increased hair shedding. Following a healthy weight-loss program can prevent this from happening.
Most cases of balding or permanent hair loss results from genetic disposition or heredity influences. Temporary hair loss or hair shedding can result from poor nutrition, among other conditions. Good nutrition can be potentially beneficial to the health of your hair and scalp. If you consume a healthy diet, nutrient deficiencies, as described above, should not be a problem. A healthy diet includes eating most of your calories from the following:
- grain products
- reduced-fat dairy products
- lean meat
- unsaturated fats