Impact of Food & Supplements on Skin, Hair & Nails

Posted by Ethan Boldt on

You’ve already stepped up your skincare routine, you’re drinking plenty of water, and you're being careful not to over-wash or heat your hair. Now you’re looking to take things to the next level and wondering which supplements and vitamins are best for your skin and beyond. 

Do hair, skin and nail vitamins and supplements actually work? It really depends on the exact kinds you take, how consistent you are about supplementing, and of course, your overall diet, lifestyle and health. 

While supplements alone are not a magic bullet for improving your appearance, they often can make a difference in skin elasticity, hair thickness and nail growth if you use the right kinds in combination with a healthy diet. 

Let’s take a look at the best nutrients and supplements to prioritize in order to achieve the vibrant, glow look we all desire.

What Are Hair, Skin and Nail Supplements? 

Hair, skin and nail vitamins and supplements are those that help supply the body with nutrients that it needs to form and promote healthy connective tissues and hair strands.

It’s true that the body requires certain vitamins and minerals to maintain healthy skin, hair and nails, yet a high proportion of supplements marketed for this purpose can often fall short in terms of quality. 

That being said, you likely can benefit from consuming more nutrients such as collagen, vitamin C, zinc and omega-3s — both for external and internal health-supporting purposes — but not all types of supplements providing these nutrients are effective. 

The key is to take high-quality supplements that the body can actually absorb and utilize. Of course, you should always consult your healthcare professional prior to beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including dietary supplementation. 

The amount taken is also important; it’s not wise to take supplements in very high amounts above and beyond the recommended daily allowance (RDA), unless you’re working with a healthcare provider to treat a known deficiency.

Taking too much of any vitamin or mineral is not recommended. You should always read and follow product label directions. Plus, more is not always better or effective when it comes to improving how you look.

What are the benefits of hair, skin and nail vitamins and supplements?

They can potentially support functions such as promoting overall healthy skin, healthy, strong hair breakage and maintenance of healthy skin elasticity. 

How long does it take for hair skin and nail vitamins or supplements to work? 

A general rule of thumb is to take them consistently for at least 2 to 3 months to experience the most results. 

While this is the average time it takes to notice improvements, some supplements, such as Multi Collagen Protein, can provide some benefits in as little as one week!

Best Vitamins for Hair, Skin and Nails 

So which vitamins are good for hair, skin and nails? Truth is: If you want to look and feel your best, you’ll need to cover your needs for all essential nutrients. The best way to do this is via a healthy, nutrient-dense diet that includes a variety of whole foods, like veggies, fruits, seeds, fish and so on.

Getting vitamins from a combo of your diet plus quality supplements — especially those that are food-based and fermented to boost absorption — is a great way to make sure you meet your daily needs.

The best supplements for hair, skin and nails are those that are free of added fillers and extra ingredients, plus tailored to your specific needs based on your age and/or gender.

Below are some of the most important vitamins to focus on:

1. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that acts like an antioxidant, meaning it helps to fight free radicals that can directly impact the skin. 

Consuming more vitamin C can promote healthy antioxidant activity and support healthy skin barrier function. Plus, vitamin C is needed for collagen synthesis, which actually builds connective tissues including your skin, hair strands and nails.

The RDA for vitamin C is 75 to 90 milligrams per day for adults. 

Ancient Nutrition’s Vitamin C + Probiotics Capsules feature a powerful combination of your RDA for vitamin C plus soil-based organism (SBO) probiotics to support absorption. Take two capsules with 8 ounces of water or your favorite beverage.

Because vitamin C has so many uses, some of the best foods for hair, skin and nails are those that are high in this vitamin and other antioxidants, such as: leafy greens, berries, citrus fruits, peppers and kiwi.

2. B Complex

B vitamins — especially biotin (vitamin B7), which is a water-soluble vitamin — contribute to skin health by supporting conversion of nutrients (including protein which forms skin, hair and nails), metabolic functions and circulation. 

You’ll find biotin in many skin and beauty products because some find that it helps support hair growth and skin health, although research findings on this topic have been mixed.

Look for a quality B complex vitamin that includes at least 30 micrograms of biotin (the overall RDA for adults ages 18 and over), and be sure to take it consistently for several months in order to see results.

You can also boost your intake of biotin and other B vitamins by eating foods such as eggs, grass-fed beef, salmon, avocados, goat cheese and liver.

3. Vitamin A

Like vitamin C, vitamin A has antioxidant effects that allow it to support overall skin health and appearance. This explains why retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, is often used in topical cosmetic products such as healthy-aging serums.

The RDA for vitamin A is between 700 and 900 micrograms per day for adults. Because it’s a fat-soluble vitamin and can stay in your body for longer periods of time, it’s best not to take more vitamin A than you need. 

You’ll find enough vitamin A in most multivitamins, such as Ancient Multivitamin Women’s Capsules or Ancient Multivitamin Men's Capsules, both of which contain 100 percent or more of the daily value (DV) of 14 essential vitamins and minerals. These capsules feature a combination of superfoods and body-ready vitamins, including vitamins A, C, D, E and biotin.

Aim to get plenty of vitamin A through food sources, too. Vitamin A-rich foods include sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, eggs, grass-fed butter, organ meats and berries.

Best Supplements for Hair, Skin and Nails

1. Collagen

Collagen is a structural protein that contributes to skin, hair and nail health by helping to form and promote healthy tissues. In fact, as we age we naturally tend to develop fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin because our bodies make less collagen.

Ancient Nutrition's Multi Collagen Protein (MCP) features a whopping 10 types of collagen, including from a newly added fermented eggshell collagen ingredient. This specific collagen is backed by six human clinical studies and offers several specific benefits for skin, hair and nails, including:

  • Improving the appearance of crow’s feet after 4 weeks and skin tone after 8 weeks
  • Improving skin barrier function and skin appearance
  • Improving trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), supporting overall skin moisture 
  • Improving skin firmness and elasticity
  • Promoting healthy hair thickness and growth with a reduction in hair breakage. 

In addition to MCP, You can increase your collagen intake with other Ancient Nutrition supplements, including:

Multi Collagen Beauty + Sleep Capsules — These revolutionary capsules, made with collagen from four food sources (beef, chicken, fish and fermented eggshell membrane) can improve the appearance of crow’s feet, plus they benefit your hair, too — promoting hair growth and thickness, while reducing breakage. The suggested use for these capsules is taking three daily with 8 ounces of water or your favorite beverage.

Collagen Peptides — Our Collagen Peptides powder products are made with clinically studied fermented eggshell membrane collagen, along with bovine collagen, providing 9 types of collagen. Both our Collagen peptides and MCP contain collagen that has undergone a process called hydrolysis to break them down into shorter chains of proteins called peptides, which are easier to absorb. 

Vegetarian Collagen Peptides — Our Vegetarian Collagen Peptides Powder features fermented eggshell membrane collagen plus 2 billion CFU* (*at time of manufacture) of an SBO probiotic strain called Bacillus coagulans and acacia fiber, which provide support for healthy gut flora. 

How do you use collagen? Either take collagen capsules daily with water, or use collagen powder (which comes in unflavored/plain, chocolate, vanilla and orange varieties) in coffee, smoothies, oatmeal, pancakes or other baked goods, soups or stews. Always read and follow label directions for use. 

2. Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that aids in many metabolic functions, proper cell division, healthy immune system function and overall skin health. 

Zinc also plays a role in protein synthesis, so if you want to support your healthy nails and hair, it may be helpful for maintaining their health.

Adults should consume around 8 milligrams of zinc daily, such as by eating zinc-rich foods including grass-fed beef, beans, nuts, cheese, oats, chicken, and yogurt. You can help meet your needs by adding Ancient Nutrients Zinc + Probiotics Capsules to your daily routine.

3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Which fats promote healthy hair, skin and nails? A variety of healthy fats in your diet can boost skin health and hydration, especially omega-3 fatty acids which support healthy skin and a healthy response to inflammation. This is important, because unbalanced inflammation can impact the skin. 

There isn’t necessarily an agreed upon RDA for omega-3s, but getting at between 500 to 1000 milligrams per day (of combined types including ALA/EPA/DHA) is frequently recommended for most adults.

Ancient Omegas Whole Body Capsules feature a powerful combination of essential fatty acids from land and sea. These fatty acids promote healthy, normal aging by supporting smooth, healthy skin and contributing to skin’s natural oil balance. They also support healthy skin maintenance by contributing to a healthy response to oxidative stress.

The suggested use for this product is three capsules daily with 8 ounces of water or your favorite beverage.

4. L-Cysteine

L-cysteine is a unique amino acid (which are the building blocks of proteins) because it helps form disulfide bonds in the body, which are needed to maintain keratin within hair strands. Keratin helps to strengthen hair, maintain its moisture, and prevent hair dryness and breakage.  It also has the job of transporting iron and zinc, which are needed for hair growth and many other functions.  

Additionally, L-cysteine helps antioxidants to work in the body, such as by stimulating glutathione peroxidase enzymes, which protect the skin from oxidative stress/free radical damage which can damage the skin barrier.

There isn’t a RDA for L-cysteine; however, a general recommendation for adults is to take between 200 and 500 milligrams per day in supplement form. You can also get plenty from your diet if you eat foods high in protein, especially grass-fed meats, dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes.

Jill Levy has been with the Dr. Axe and Ancient Nutrition team for seven years. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Fairfield University, followed by a certification as a Holistic Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Jill takes a “non-diet” approach to health and really enjoys teaching others about mindful eating, intuitive eating and the benefits of eating real foods.