A to Z – Skin, Hair & Nails Health
By nourishing your body from the inside, we can help improve the health and appearance of skin, hair and nails. Eating a balanced diet is crucial to your wellness routine and foods supplements can support any nutritional gaps. We delve into nutrients that play a role in Ultimate Beauty.
Introduction on the importance of healthy collagen and skin vitality
Good skin structure and a youthful appearance is owed to skin elasticity and collagen density. During ageing, the skin becomes less collagenous and so fine lines and wrinkles begin to appear.
Several nutrients are necessary to produce collagen and studies show that optimising those nutrients through diet may improve skin appearance. Let us look at the detail of these nutrients and how they play a role in skin, hair, and nail health:
Beta-carotene and carotenoids (Pro Vitamin A)
Carotenoids are an intensely coloured, (orange, red and yellow), group of fat-soluble compounds. What makes this group of nutrients unique is that they are transformed into vitamin A, as and when the body requires, this leads to the term, pro vitamin A. Of them, beta carotene has the greatest pro-vitamin A potential, whereby 6 units of beta-carotene can be transformed to one unit of vitamin A, the remaining carotenoids are transformed at a ratio of 12 units per one unit of vitamin A. This group of nutrients are often found in skin care and skin related formulas based on their support of skin appearance.
Biotin, which is classified as a B vitamin, contributes to normal hair and skin. One of the first indications that biotin was important for hair and skin came from a study that showed dermatitis and hair loss in response to a diet that did not provide biotin. Since then, biotin has become best known for hair, and skin health. Dietary sources include nuts, eggs, legumes, and avocados.
Copper is an essential trace mineral; it is involved in several key functions. It especially contributes to normal skin and hair pigmentation. In addition, copper contributes to the protection of skin cells from oxidative stress. Collagen may attract oxidative stress and so it is important to protect this protein that provides structural integrity. It is important that supplemental copper is balanced with zinc at a ratio of zinc to copper, 15:1.
Grape crossbreeding to produce seedless grapes has reduced the amount of grapeseed that would naturally occur in the diet. It is considered that grape seeds contain several nutritious compounds. Subsequently, grapeseed extract is an excellent source of Oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs). OPCs are considered beneficial and are often indicated to support the appearance of skin.
The Horsetail herb really does look like a horse’s tail, and this may give a clue to its beneficial properties. It is found in damp ground where it draws silica from the water. This traditional silica-rich herb has been used since Greek and Roman times for skin appearance and the reduced appearance of inflammation and wounds.
MSM (Methyl sulphonyl methane) is a naturally occurring sulphur compound. Sulphur containing foods are considered useful for repelling bacteria. In addition, traditional use of natural sulphur springs for health has been and still is extremely popular. Subsequently, it is considered beneficial for the appearance of skin. It is found in small quantities in foods such as coffee, tomatoes, and chamomile tea.
Pine Bark Extract
One of the most popular and researched ‘‘inside-out” botanicals is pine bark extract. It is rich in several naturally occurring nutrients, OPCs and flavonoids. OPCs are considered beneficial and are often indicated to support the appearance of skin.
Selenium is a trace element that plays a role as a cofactor, essential for the function of an antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD). Selenium and SOD are considered beneficial for maintaining the appearance of skin when UV-induced oxidative damage occurs. Subsequently, selenium contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress. It is also known that selenium contributes to the maintenance of normal hair and nails.
Due to intensive farming methods that do not remineralisation the land, selenium is considered to be lowered in these soils and the subsequent plants. Selenium is generally stored in muscle and a small amount in the thyroid. Rich foods sources include Brazil nuts, eggs and fish.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient and contributes to the protection from oxidative stress.
Skin contains high concentrations of vitamin C, well above that of blood. However, it is notably lower in aged or photodamaged (sunburnt) skin and in the skin of individuals that live in polluted locations. Subsequently, enhanced vitamin C intake in a sunny climate and summer months plus sun protection may help to protect the appearance of skin.
In addition, vitamin C contributes to normal collagen formation for the function of skin. Collagen is a structural protein in skin and blood vessels, it allows for elasticity in the tissue. As collagen production reduces with age, this allows skin to form lines and wrinkles. In fact, vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy which is associated with decreased collagen production and so tissues lose structure, and wounds heal slowly and poorly. This highlights the importance of regular intake of vitamin C containing foods.
Zinc is a nutrient that is involved in over 300 body processes. Moreover, it plays an important role in immunity, healing, and skin integrity. Zinc intake has been shown to contribute to the maintenance of normal skin, hair, and nails. Furthermore, zinc contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can be involved in skin conditions. Finally, zinc contributes to the normal function of the immune system. This is important as a normal immune response is the trigger for healing. Zinc rich foods include vegetables, legumes, eggs, and shellfish.
Ultimately, achieving a youthful glow requires careful planning of meals so that they include the nutrients previously discussed. However, some food supplements designed specifically to support hair, skin and nails will provide those nutrients and save time in the long run.
Viridian Supplements are available at:
Emporium Treatment Clinic.
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Author: Jenny Carson
A Nutritional Practitioner and Technical Services Manager at Viridian Nutrition. She holds a BSc honours degree in Nutritional Science and is a Master of Research (MRes) in Public Health.
The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.
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