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Hair and Nail Nutrition

Hair and nails reveal more about our overall health and diet than many guys realize. Like skin, hair and nail conditions reflect what's going on inside our bodies, and can expose the many possible nutritional deficiencies we might have. Supple, shiny hair and healthy, strong nails indicate good health, while weak, brittle, dull hair and nails say there's need for improvement.

Hair and nails are primarily comprised of keratin, a type of structural protein that requires adequate dietary protein, in order to support the healthy growth of both. Although protein provides the building blocks of hair and nails, many other nutrients are necessary to keep them in top condition and looking great. Let's take a look at the foods and supplements that have been proven beneficial and effective in keeping manes proud and nails problem free.

Omega-3s: These specific essential fats are invaluable to health for countless reasons. When it comes to hair, scalp, and nail health, moisturize from the inside out with omega-3s. Deficiencies result in dull, lack luster hair, dry scalp or dandruff, and dry nails that often spilt and break. Foods rich in Omega-3s are seafood (salmon, mackerel, sardines, fresh tuna, etc.), certain seaweeds, flaxseeds or flax oil, walnuts, chia and hemp seeds, soybeans, pinto and kidney beans, and any foods that are omega-3 enriched, like eggs and yogurt. Supplementing with omega-3 fish, krill, cod liver, flax, or seaweed oil capsules is a great way to ensure adequate consumption.

Vitamin A: This vitamin is needed in the formation of sebum – an oily secretion of the sebaceous glands of the skin and scalp. Young men, especially, usually produce enough sebum, thanks to testosterone, but not only is vitamin A necessary for overall health, it's a great addition for anyone battling dry scalp or hair, and brittle nails. Foods highest in vitamin A are carrots, sweet potatoes, liver, dark leafy greens, tomatoes, red peppers, and other red or orange fruit and vegetables. Supplementation consists of vitamin A derived from fish liver oil or beta-carotene, which actually converts into vitamin A based on the individual's need for vitamin A.

B Vitamins: There are several types of B vitamins, but the ones that support hair and nail health are B6, biotin (B7) and B12. One of the many functions of B vitamins is to metabolize protein, which is what hair and nails are made from. Biotin is a key player in hair and nail health for it strengthens nails and addresses hair loss. Foods high in biotin include cooked egg yolk, brewer's yeast, saltwater fish, meats, poultry, milk, peanuts, soybeans, swiss chard, some fruit and vegetables, and whole grains. Supplementing the diet with B vitamins will ensure higher levels of intake; however B vitamins should never be taken individually. Take an all-inclusive B-Complex supplement, along with additional biotin or any other needed B vitamin. This is important, in order to avoid a B vitamin imbalance.

Vitamin C: This life sustaining vitamin and antioxidant is essential in optimizing hair and nail health, for it helps manufacture collagen, a structural fiber that literally holds hair and nails together. The bottom line is vitamin C plays a vital role in keeping hair and nails strong, where a deficiency can lead to dry, brittle fibers that break easily. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb and utilize iron, which brings oxygen to cells within the hair follicles and nail beds. Adequate oxygen not only keeps hair and nails healthy, but it promotes growth. Foods richest in vitamin C are citrus fruits, bell peppers, strawberries, cabbage, white potatoes, and a host of other fruit and vegetables. Although many foods provide vitamin C, supplementation with a vitamin tablet or capsule boosts levels and should be considered, especially by those with vitamin C deficient diets.

Vitamin E: This, too, is an antioxidant that improves circulation and oxygen flow to hair follicles and nail beds. Foods highest in vitamin E include almonds and other nuts, wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, peanuts, some vegetable oils (safflower, sunflower, soy), and dark leafy greens, like spinach. Supplementation is recommended for those diets lacking vitamin E, with the best form being mixed tocopherols, which includes all components of the vitamin.

Iron: Iron's role in healthy hair and nail formation is its function in manufacturing red blood cells, which carry oxygen, and the formation of new cells, including hair and nail cells. As mentioned above, oxygen enables cells to function properly; promoting healthy hair and nail growth. Low iron levels are often responsible for hair loss, brittle nails, and nails with vertical ridges. Since both protein and iron are necessary for hair and nail formation, a diet high in iron-rich proteins is advantageous for it supplies both nutrients. Oysters, clams, beef, pork, shrimp, and egg yolks are great sources of iron rich protein. Non-meat, low-protein, iron-rich foods include spinach, swiss chard, black strap molasses, soybeans, lentils and starchy beans, seaweed, asparagus, brussel sprouts, kale and broccoli. Iron supplementation should only be taken by men if blood levels prove to be low.

Silica: Commonly found in sand and quartz, silica is very beneficial in strengthening hair and nails. The herb Horsetail, also known as shavegrass, has the highest levels of silica found in any herb. Regardless of the source, silica aids calcium absorption, which promotes healthy hair and nail formation.

Zinc: This mineral is a guy's best friend, for it not only protects the prostate, but is instrumental in tissue growth and repair, including hair and nail growth. Zinc also keeps the oil glands on the scalp working properly, avoiding dandruff. Some professionals agree that white spots commonly found on nails are an indication of a zinc deficiency. Foods known for high zinc amounts are oysters, lobster, crab, clams, mussels, lamb, beef, pumpkin and squash seeds, starchy beans, soybeans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, and dark chocolate. Supplementation of no more than 90 mg. a day will meet hair and nail requirements.

There are various hair and nail supplements on the market whose ingredients are designed to meet their nutritional needs. Some of these products include additional vitamins and minerals that qualify them as multivitamins. Regardless, combination hair and nail products include the most recognized ingredients known to nourish and enhance healthy hair and nail growth. In addition to a healthy hair and nail diet, supplements are a wise choice for anyone struggling with compromised conditions.

Taking care of our hair and nails go well beyond the use of shampoo and nail clippers. It begins with smart eating and a healthy lifestyle.

by Aaron Marino

Past Topics

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Quest Protein Bar | Healthy Eating -
April 24, 2013
Aaron Marino of alpha m. reviews the bar which has 24 grams of carbs and 20 grams of protein. Quest bars are 170 calories with 17 grams of fiber with a low glycemic index. These things are awesome and come in lots of flavors. Read More»
Are You a Hardgainer? | Ectomorph -
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Are you a hardgainer? If you have a thin body type, and have trouble gaining weight and muscle, chances are you're a hardgainer. It's almost surprising that in a time when so many of us struggle to keep weight off, there are those who fight to put it on. We're beginning to hear more about this condition today than ever before. Not that it's a new condition, but because, as with so many issues, it'Read More»
Prostate Health | Saw Palmetto -
April 10, 2013
How is your prostate? Do you wake up multiple times during the night to pee? When you urinate, do you feel like you can't empty your bladder fully? If that is case, your prostate may be swollen. Aaron Marino of alpha m. recommends Saw Palmetto if you have prostate issues. Read More»
When to Consume Protein Powder -
April 3, 2013
Are you confused when to drink your protein powder? Are you hearing conflicting info from friends? Aaron Marino of alpha m. says the first thing is to determine if you are taking a protein powder or meal replacement powder. Generally 25- 30 grams of protein is all your body can assimilate- so don't overdo it. Take one or two scoops a day. A great time to take it is after your workout as absorptionRead More»

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April 1, 2013
Garlic is incredible for so many different things, including for blood pressure and cholesterol. It's also great for your cardiovascular system. Aaron Marino of alpha m. recommends taking a high quality supplement to avoid bad breath or coming out pores. You can take it 2x's a day. Read More»
Naturally Increase Your Testosterone Levels  -
March 28, 2013
Holistic Male Hormone Health As men age, testosterone levels go down. Low energy, low sex drive, and depression can be a result. Aaron Marino of alpha m. mentions some of the traditional treatment programs that his friends are using. Other methods are available. The video link is from Dr. Goldman, Alpha's mother's doctor, who specializes in holistic remedies and treatments for low testosterone disRead More»
Simple Trick to Get Your Bowels Moving | Relieving Constipation  -
January 31, 2013
Alpha sets the stage: you just woke up and get out out of bed. Immediately you go to the kitchen. Lemon + warm water = success! Aaron Marino of alpha m. discusses a trick he learned in order to keep regular. Within 10 minutes to an hour, you should find results. If are currently using laxatives on a regular basis, you need to address why you constipated: fiber? water? Prolonged used of laxatives cRead More»
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December 11, 2012
You are fast asleep in a deep slumber when all of the sudden you have crazy muscle spasm. Agony! Aaron Marino of alpha m. says that you are dealing with this pain is due to sodium, magnesium, or potassium imbalance. It's vital that you replace nutrients when you are working out. Calcium and magnesium act like a muscle relaxer and help to eliminate spasms / cramps. Double or triple on dosage duringRead More»
How to Get Over a Cold Fast | Reduce Sick Time -
November 27, 2012
Alpha's got a monster of a cold that keeps getting worse. Aaron Marino of alpha m. looks for the quickest and easiest ways to get better faster. Antibiotics work for bacterial infections, not viral infections like colds. The virus needs to run its course. You can cut down on the symptoms and symptom durations: Vitamin C cuts down on symptoms by half as well as its a scavenger that eliminates crapRead More»

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