The Best Nutrients for Hair + Nails
Oil cleansing, multi-step Korean-inspired nighttime routines, highly advanced color-correcting techniques…yep, skin is in. But while we talk a lot about eating beautifying foods to give you a clear complexion and a bright, otherworldly glow, let’s not forget the two things that complete the beauty trifecta—hair and nails. Here are our five go-to nutrients for luscious locks and nails that don’t even need a manicure.
Loading up on amino acids is probably one of the most important dietary considerations for hair and nail health. After all, your hair and nails are made of protein—more specifically, keratin—so if you’re not getting a sufficient amount, you may suffer from strands with split ends and breakage, sluggish hair growth and nail weakness. And don’t forget that sulfur is an important piece of the protein synthesis puzzle. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again—you can absolutely get all the nail-and-hair-nourishing protein you need from a plant-based diet.
Beauty foods: Nuts, seeds, beans, chickpeas, lentils, greens, cruciferous veggies
2. Omega-3 fatty acids
A healthy scalp means healthy hair follicles, and healthy hair follicles mean…you guessed it—abundant, healthy hair. In addition to keeping your scalp moisturized (side note: dandruff issues? More healthy fats!), omegas will also improve the elasticity of your hair, which contributes to stronger locks and less breakage. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids keep your nail beds moisturized and reduce inflammation, which encourages healthy development of the nail plate.
Beauty foods: Avocado, flax, nuts, chia seeds
3. B complex vitamins
There’s a plethora of B vitamins out there, and your body needs all of them to look (and, of course, feel) its best. But when it comes to hair and nails, B3 (a.k.a niacin), B5 (a.k.a. pantothenic acid) and B7 (a.k.a. Vitamin H or biotin) are the ones to watch. Biotin in particular is considered a beauty powerhouse because it helps the body metabolize fat and keratin-building aminos. It also nourishes existing hair follicles, encouraging hair growth. And don’t forget folic acid, which not only influences biotin metabolism (helping your body use it efficiently), but can also prevent premature hair graying and loss.
Beauty foods: Dark leafy greens, nuts, whole grains, legumes, bananas, avocado, mushrooms
This mineral is required for cell reproduction and the growth and repair of healthy tissues. So it comes as no surprise that a zinc deficiency can cause hair loss and slow growth. But make sure you’re getting enough and you’ll ensure healthy hair follicles and proper tissue maintenance. Zinc is also required for the production of protein (the stuff your hair and nails are made of, remember?) and DNA.
Beauty foods: Nuts, mushrooms, chickpeas
5. Vitamin C
The benefits of proper Vitamin C intake for your skin are many (collagen production and UV protection among them). But this nutrient is actually an all-around beautifier, and it’s especially important if you eat a plant-based diet. Vitamin C helps the body absorb non-heme iron (i.e. the kind that comes from plant foods, like broccoli, nuts, seeds, beans, grains and oats), which you need to invigorate your red blood cells so that they can efficiently transport life-giving oxygen throughout your body—including to your hair follicles and nail beds.
Beauty foods: Bell peppers, citrus fruits, tropical fruits, berries, tomatoes