Nutricosmetics: The Best Hair, Skin and Nails Vitamins

Nutricosmetics: The Best Hair, Skin and Nails Vitamins

Beauty is more than skin deep; what you eat can make an impact. Learn about the best hair, skin and nails vitamins to include in your diet, based on the latest science. 

You are what you eat—especially in the context of nutricosmetics, which emphasizes the visible benefits of certain food products and supplements, from the collagen-promoting power of vitamin C to the antioxidant properties of beta-carotene. Nutricosmetics is a quickly growing trend in the beauty industry, as many of these products are designed to promote skin, hair, and nail health from the inside out. The only question is: Do these beauty foods and supplements really provide benefits? Keep in mind that dietary supplements don’t have the same burden of proof as drugs; manufacturers do not have to prove their efficacy before their products are marketed. Thus, there is a lot of over-hype in the nutricosmetics world. But, we do know that some nutrients are linked with healthy skin, hair, and nails. Here’s the rundown on the best hair, skin and nails vitamins for skin health and beyond, based on science. 

The Best Hair, Skin and Nails Vitamins

Get a healthy does of vitamin C in this recipe for Crunchy Mandarin Tofu Salad.

Radiant Vitamin C 

Vitamin C intake is important for a healthful lifestyle. This vitamin is essential for the synthesis of collagen, which is a structural protein that holds everything inside us together. In fact, people with a vitamin C deficiency (also known as scurvy) are at risk of having old scars open back up again, because the collagen holding them together has lost its strength. Never fear though, because vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables, and can also be supplemented. The highest vitamin C sources are citrus fruits, bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables, and potatoes. Although it is one of the water-soluble vitamins, meaning any excess is lost in our urine rather than stored in the body, you should be careful not to overdo it on the supplements, as this can lead to headaches and nausea. It’s nearly impossible to reach this level by eating food sources of vitamin C, so instead of supplements, you might simply add more oranges, broccoli, berries, or bell peppers to your diet—all amazingly delicious foods that have vitamin C and other important nutrients to support your health. 

Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene, such as in this recipe for Swiss Chard Pecan Vegan Lasagna.

Pretty Lycopene

Lycopene, which is found in tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruit, is another nutrient of interest to the nutricosmetics market. If you’re familiar with Latin and Greek word origins, you might be curious why the scientific name of tomatoes, Solanum lycopersicum, contains the prefix “lyco,” meaning wolf. This is because tomatoes were once thought to cause people to shapeshift into werewolves! Thankfully, this is not true, and lycopene is merely an antioxidant compound that may help protect against certain cancers, heart disease, and sunburns. So chow down on all the tomatoes you like—it may not turn you into a furry wolf, but it’s been shown to help protect you from sun damage and even make your skin a healthier tone. Remember, lycopene is more available to your body in its cooked form, so pile on the canned tomato recipes

This Sweet Potato Black Bean Bake has biotin, vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, and tons of other nutrients to keep your body nourished. 

Beautiful Biotin 

Biotin is one of the more popular and well-known supplements available today. It is a water-soluble vitamin that is important for the health of your hair, skin, and nails. Inside the body, biotin is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, helping to convert nutrients to energy. If you’ve ever seen the movie Rocky, you might remember him drinking raw eggs, which would be a great source of biotin for him—except that raw egg whites also contain avidin, which prevents biotin absorption. In a plant-based diet, you’ll find biotin in bananas, pulses, nuts and seeds, and sweet potatoes. Enjoying these foods may help improve hair and nail growth, as biotin stimulates keratin production and follicle growth. These foods are also great sources of fiber, which is essential for a happy gut microbiome and a healthy body. 

Read about my recommendations for the best supplements to add to your plant-based diet here

Now that you’ve learned about some of the top vitamins in the nutricosmetics world, check out these delicious and nutritious recipes that will truly help promote health from the inside out. 

Written by Kathryn Atkinson, dietetic intern with Sharon Palmer MSFS, RDN

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