When we think of the word “health”, it’s common to picture nutritionally rich foods, activities for exercising, as well as soothing practices such as yoga and meditation to improve our mental health. However, health goes deeper and encompasses smaller details that we might not think of, such as our outward features including hair, skin, and nails. These features can be very important to some, as cultural standards of “beauty” can influence the way we see ourselves, and how we portray ourselves to others. It is common for people to alter their appearance on the outside, but the truth is that our outward appearances and overall health are strongly influenced by what we are putting inside our bodies.
One common route taken to support healthy hair, skin, and nails is through supplementation. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States doesn’t regulate supplements, there are many companies producing supplements that claim to help with a variety of health issues one might be dealing with. The supplements that claim to specifically target hair, skin, and nail health commonly have ingredients such as biotin, collagen, antioxidants and fish oil. In the rare event that someone has a deficiency, a supplement that contains nourishing elements might improve the appearance of one’s physical features such as skin. However, there is not an overwhelming amount of evidence to conclude that these supplements live up to their claims.
The ingredients found in many supplements can be helpful in strengthening one’s health, but you don’t always have to take a supplement to achieve improvement. It’s best to eat varied food sources with different nutrient profiles to avoid deficiencies entirely. Ensuring you get enough protein in your diet, 10-35% of your daily calorie intake according to the United States Dietary Guidelines, can ensure you have sufficient building blocks within your body to build new proteins like those found in hair.
Habits we have can also play a role in our hair, skin, and nail health, both positively and negatively. One example is how smoking is known to cause skin wrinkles and brittle nails. In addition, many people often use heated tools like hair dryers, straighteners, and curling irons, which can all cause breakage. In addition, harsh hair dyes and bleach can damage our hair follicles. Habits that contribute to our health include hair masks that can be very hydrating, making sure we moisturize our skin morning and night, applying quality SPF each day, wearing gloves when we do dishes to avoid excessive skin dryness, and taking care of our nails by keeping them nicely trimmed and moisturized around the cuticle daily. In combination with proper nutrition, we can take care of our bodies and feel good about the way our features appear as well.