A healthy, balanced and varied diet is important for getting all the key nutrients that the body needs to help you look and feel your best. There are certain nutrients that help keep your hair, skin and nails healthy. You should be able to get all of these nutrients through food, but if you're worried your diet may be lacking some of them then you may want to consider taking a supplement. If you think you have a deficiency, you should contact your GP, as this can sometimes point to a condition that may need to be treated.
Also known as retinol, vitamin A plays a key role in skin health as it supports the maintenance of healthy skin. Rich sources of vitamin A include cheese, eggs, oily fish, fortified low-fat spreads and dairy products.
Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
Riboflavin helps maintain healthy skin, and is found in milk, eggs and rice. It’s destroyed by ultraviolet light, so always store these foods out of direct sunlight. B2 deficiency is uncommon, but symptoms include scaly patches on the face.
Niacin (vitamin B3)
Meat, fish, wheat, eggs and dairy products are good sources of niacin, another vitamin which supports healthy skin.
Biotin (vitamin B7)
Biotin is also known as vitamin B7. It's made naturally by bacteria in your gut and helps to maintain normal hair and skin. If your diet contains a wide variety of nutrients, it's likely that your gut is making enough biotin.
Vitamin C helps create collagen, a protein that supports healthy skin. Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, most berries, spinach, tomatoes, cauliflower and potatoes.
Zinc is a metallic mineral that's known to maintain skin, hair and nail health. Zinc occurs naturally in many foods, including meat, dairy products, nuts and seeds, legumes (beans, peas and lentils) and shellfish. Zinc is absorbed most effectively when taken with a protein-rich meal.
Are there any other things that can help?
- Too much sun damages skin and hair, so use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 and wear a hat in the sun
- Avoid smoking and excess alcohol, which are both bad for the skin
- Excess heat damages hair. Set your hairdryer to a cool setting or allow it to dry naturally
When should I visit my Doctor?
If you would like to support the health of your skin, hair or nails, speak to your pharmacist. They'll advise you on vitamin and mineral supplements that might help.
If you have any problems with your skin, hair or nails, visit your Doctor, as you may have a symptom of an underlying condition that needs treatment. Dry skin and brittle hair or nails, for example, sometimes indicate an under-active thyroid, while some nail problems can be caused by fungal infections.
- Eat a healthy, balanced and varied diet to make sure you get all the nutrients your body needs
- Talk to your pharmacist if you think you may need a supplement
- For persistent skin, hair or nail problems, visit your Doctor