Daily Mail

Best supplement­s for healthy SKIN, HAIR and NAILS


DesPITe the billions we spend every year on supplement­s toboost hair, skin and nails — the global market for women’s health and beauty supplement­s is predicted to be worth about £58 billion by 2030 — the medical establishm­ent has questioned their value, suggesting consumers were wasting their money, and all you need is a healthy, balanced diet.

However, as Dr Hayley Leeman, a consultant dermatolog­ist at the cadogan clinic in London explains, this is starting to change.

‘It is clearly understood that a healthy diet and lifestyle are imperative for a healthy body and with our skin being the largest organ in the body, it can reflect externally what is happening internally,’ she says.

‘But if the gold standard is toachieve adequate nutrition through a healthy, balanced diet, emerging evidence suggests that supplement­ation can also be beneficial for the skin, especially if there is a deficiency, or if the vitamins and minerals are hard to obtain through diet alone.’

However, ‘ the quality and proof for these [supplement] products is sometimes lacking’, says stewart Long, a former president of the society of cosmetic scientists and ceo at cutest, a company that tests beauty products.

‘But even if you don’ t have clinical trial results at your fingertips, you can, with the help of our experts, know what ingredient­s tolook for — and the ones that aren’t worth your time or money…


‘VITAMIN A is a fat- soluble vitamin and is essential for our vision, immune system and skin health,’ says Dr sonia Khorana, an NHs GP and dermatolog­y doctor.

‘Vitamin A deficiency can lead to scaly, dry skin and loss of hair — but supplement­ation is only advised if there is a true deficiency.’

‘Deficienci­es are rare and mostly seen in people with malabsorpt­ion disorders [such as crohn’s disease],’ she adds. And while a lack of vitamin A can lead to hair and skin problems, so, too, can too much.

‘excess vitamin A consumptio­n results in hair loss and affects oil production, leaving you with dry skin — you need to have just the right amount,’ says Dr Khorana. As you can probably get the recommende­d daily amount (700mcg for men; 600mcg for women) from fruit, veg, dairy, fish, liver and fortified cereals, don’t take a supplement unless you’ve been advised to.


BIOTIN, also known as vitamin B7, helps with the production of keratin, a protein that’s in charge of forming nails, skin and hair. And it’s true that a lack of it will show up in these places.

‘If you don’t get enough biotin,

you may see thinning of hair, scaly skin, and brittle nails,’ says Dr Khorana.

But, she points out, if you’re already getting the right amount of biotin — current recommenda­tions for adults suggest 30mcg a day — from foods (one egg contains 10mcg), then taking more probably isn’t going to do anything at all.’


VITAMIN c is water soluble, meaning your body can’t store it, so anything not used is excreted when you wee. so, for many years, vitamin c supplement­s have been considered a waste of money.

However, vitamin c has a very important role to play in the production of collagen, one of the proteins that make up skin, and so some dermatolog­ists are starting to suggest that a supplement might be helpful.

‘There is some evidence that vitamin c supplement­s may help with collagen formation and wound healing, for example for acne scars,’ says Dr Thivi Maruthappu, a consultant dermatolog­ist at the cadogan clinic. ‘However, I would not recommend supplement­ing beyond 1000mg per day.’


YOU might not have heard of it but this red pigment that gives salmon its pink colour is a potent antioxidan­t — meaning it can help to neutralise unstable molecules ( or free radicals) that are associated with damage to the skin.

Dr Zainab Laftah, a consultant dermatolog­ist at HCA The shard in London, says ‘there are promising results from human clinical trials demonstrat­ing astaxanthi­n’s role in improving skin redness,

elasticity and barrier integrity’. But identifyin­g exactly how much of the supplement is effective isn’t straightfo­rward.

therefore further studies are needed to establish long-term efficacy and safety.


IT’S hard to get enough vitamin D through diet alone — our main source is exposure to the sun. that’s why in the darker months in the UK we’re encouraged to take a daily supplement — the NhS recommends 10mcg from October to April, while those with darker skins may need a supplement all year round.

‘Vitamin D regulates many processes in the skin including maintainin­g its barrier role and immune functions,’ says Dr Khorana. ‘It contribute­s to skin cell growth, repair, and metabolism.

With nails, there is some evidence that for those with low vitamin D, supplement­ing may help.

So make sure you’re getting enough to keep your skin, hair and nails healthy, but don’t exceed 100mcg daily, the risk is a build-up of calcium in the body, which can damage the kidneys and heart.


‘THERE is research showing that zinc is effective in healing skin lesions when treating acne, psoriasis, and dermatitis,’ says Dr Khorana. ‘Additional­ly, zinc helps accelerate the healing process of wounds and burns due to its role in the production of collagen. Although zinc won’t increase your hair growth, including zinc in your diet can help prevent hair loss.’

If you don’t have a known deficiency, you’re probably best off sticking to the recommende­d daily amounts of 11mg for men and 8mg for women, which you can get from your diet — meat, shellfish, chickpeas and lentils are good sources — or from a daily multivitam­in.


SOME small studies suggest that if people are going prematurel­y grey, screening their blood for levels of various vitamins and minerals, including selenium, and supplement­ing to compensate for any deficienci­es can help.

But unfortunat­ely there’s no evidence that the same is true for older people and, given that an overdose of selenium can cause hair loss, it’s probably one to swerve unless you’ve been tested.


THE fatty acids found in oily fish, flaxseed and some vegetable oils are known for their anti-inflammato­ry effects.

A 2020 review of 38 studies, published in the Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery, concluded that ‘given its high safety profile, low cost, and ease of supplement­ation, omega-3 fatty acid is a supplement that may benefit patients wishing to improve inflammato­ry skin conditions through diet’.

there are no official upper limits but up to 5mg a day is considered safe.

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