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Skin Care

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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Don't Kill Your Image! Check Your Hands and Feet -
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Subscribe to Alpha M. on YouTube One aspect to the grooming regimen that needs to be addressed again. Alpha met up with a well groomed and stylish gentleman the other day. the man was impressive until Alpha got to his hands. His nails and hands were a disaster! Aaron Marino of alpha m. emphasizes to pay attention to all aspects of grooming, including hands / fingernails and feet / toenails. A greaRead More»
Heal Chapped Lips | Burt's Bees -
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Burts Bees Lip Care Did you ever see kids in school with really red upper chapped lips? Alpha remembers little Tommy. Aaron Marino of alpha m. says that chapped lips are uncomfortable, and some remedies can make your lips worse.  Some remedies can dry your lips further causing an addiction to the remedy. Alpha recommends Burt's Bees as it retains moisture. Also look for a SPF in the chap stick toRead More»
Dangers of Tanning Beds | Tanning Salon Caution  -
March 14, 2013
Today we are going to talk about going to the tanning salon. Alpha is overall pasty white. He has come to embrace the paste. Aaron Marino of alpha m. used to go to the tanning salon a lot (every other day) and was almost addicted to the look. Then his wife got skin cancer after spending her youth in the sun without sunscreen. Alpha stopped tanning because of her. Then she got skin cancer again. AnRead More»
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February 5, 2013
Neutrogena Ageless Intensives Anti-Wrinkle Oh, crows feet! Oh, laugh lines! Wrinkles show your age. Aaron Marino of alpha m. has noticed deeper wrinkles around his eyes in the last year. He takes care of skin and recently found a new product. Alpha discusses a Neutrogena Ageless Intensives Anti-Wrinkle product and gives a review. He's been using it for 3-days, and he feels his skin is tightening uRead More»

Stop Bleeding with a Styptic Pencil | Shaving Nicks -
January 17, 2013
Styptic Pencil How many times have you nicked yourself shaving? Unless you are prepared, you are going to be walking around with a bloody piece of toilet paper stuck to your face. Aaron Marino of alpha m. talks about how the toilet paper can be prevented. A styptic pencil is made of alum that stops bleeding by constricting capillaries and vessels. Invest in a styptic pencil. This prior planning wRead More»
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It's that time of year again. Aaron Marino of alpha m. is talking about the redness behind his ear. If not taken care of, it will be raging. The redness is psoriasis which correlates with the cold weather and beer drinking. He doesn't suffer from the typcial psoriasis, however. Hydrocortisone cream is what Aaron uses to treat it. He rubs it on the area when he has a flare up. It usually clears witRead More»
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November 19, 2012
Gentleman, what did Aaron just take? Omega 3... fish oil. Aaron Marino of alpha m. takes regular supplementation of Omega 3 which alleviates dry skin. He takes 3 capsules 2 times a day. Omega 3 supports the cell wall, and the difference is amazing when you supplement daily.  While you're resting, give your body as much nutrients as possible, including Omega 3. Read More»

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