Are you getting your fill? (Photo: Shutterstock)
Glowing skin and healthy hair start from the inside out. Coming up empty on both? Then your diet may be missing some vital daily vitamins. Here, find out which ones are essential for your complexion and your strands.
Found in: Citrus fruits, yellow bell peppers, papaya, kale, strawberries
Vitamin C helps fight UV damage and brighten the complexion. “It’s critical for the production of collagen and the maintenance of healthy blood vessels in the skin,” says Clear Scalp & Hair dermatologist Francesca Fusco, M.D., who specializes in skin and hair. You can also apply skin-care products that contain vitamin C for an extra boost.
Found in: Spinach, nuts, seeds, sunflower oil
Vitamin E is an antioxidant powerhouse and works as a shield against free radicals, which damage the skin. “It quenches free radicals we encounter in the environment [like pollution and UV rays], which speed up the breakdown of collagen,” says Fusco.
Found in: Carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, kale, butternut squash
In addition to getting vitamin A from various foods, it’s also a potent anti-aging weapon (known as retinoid) when applied topically. That’s because it speeds cell turnover, allowing younger skin to come to the surface quicker. “Regular cell turnover allows dead dull skin cells to slough off and brings healthy new glowing cells to the surface,” says Fusco. Just keep in mind that while topical vitamin A can be effective in preventing and even camouflaging fine lines and wrinkles, it can also be harsh, causing redness and peeling, especially when you first use it.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Found in: Salmon, edamame, walnuts, grass-fed beef
Omega-3 fatty acids make up about three percent of the hair shaft and part of the scalp’s cell membranes, promoting circulation to the scalp. “These are essential to healthy hair and a healthy scalp,” says Fusco. “They support the growth of healthy, resilient, lustrous hair.”
Found in: Kidney beans, oysters, sesame seeds, lentils, spinach
Iron is key to strong strands. “Without adequate iron, hair can shed excessively and the hair shaft itself can become brittle and broken,” says Fusco. This, she says, is due to inadequate oxygen delivery to the scalp and hair follicles. Yikes.
Found in: Salmon, peanuts, Swiss chard, eggs, cauliflower, avocado, raspberries
“Inadequate levels of biotin can lead to shedding and brittle hair structure,” says Fusco. But while getting enough biotin (whether through your diet or supplements) can add strength back to strands and prevent unhealthy breakage, it won’t make your hair grow longer and faster. No pill can change your genetic hair growth cycle, says Fusco.
Found in: Oysters, chicken, beans, nuts
If you deal with both a dry scalp and complexion, zinc could be what you’re missing. Low levels lead to dryness, flaking, and dandruff, says Fusco. Zinc assists in the skin’s natural sebum (a.k.a., oil) production to promote moisture.
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