Are you frustrated with dry skin, cracked lips, or dull hair? A supplement could possibly be the answer. But while there’s no shortage of pills on the market, not all of them are created equally. Find out which nutrients have the power to give you younger-looking skin, shinier strands, and stronger nails. Just make sure to check with a doctor before adding any of these supplements to your routine.Biotin
Found in foods like peanut butter and bananas, biotin is a B vitamin that supports your skin, nerves, digestive tract, and metabolism. Supplements can be used to help reduce hair loss and encourage nail growth. “Individuals with type 2 diabetes should also look into taking a biotin supplement,” says David Bank, MD, director of the Center for Dermatology in Mt. Kisco, N.Y. “Consuming biotin in combination with chromium picolinate [a mineral found in certain foods] may help improve blood sugar levels.” The recommended daily intake of biotin is 35 micrograms a day, which you may already be getting in your diet, Bank says.
Fern extract has been researched for close to 20 years for its skin-saving abilities. In fact, a recent study found that it provides protection from ultraviolet rays. It can also be used to treat skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and vitiligo. “Fern extract has been shown to have a noteworthy anti-inflammatory effect on skin tissue,” Bank says. Ask your doctor for proper dosage if you’re interested in taking a supplement. “The dose is based on weight, which correlates with the amount of skin somebody has,” explains Bank.
“Without iron, your hair can become dull, thin, and dry,” Bank says. “[And] without iron, your nails could become brittle and break easily.” Iron, found in foods including spinach, oysters, and cashews, also helps make your skin glow by activating B vitamins. Soheil Simzar, MD, a clinical instructor of dermatology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a dermatologist in Santa Monica, Calif., recommends iron supplements only to patients with an iron deficiency. A doctor can do a simple blood test to find out if you’re deficient and help you decide how much iron you need to take. However, “Too much iron can cause free radical damage to skin structures,” warns Simzar.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, regulate oil production and help keep your skin moist. “They also delay the skin’s aging process to prevent wrinkles,” Bank says. One 2005 study found that EPA, a type of omega-3 found primarily in fish oil, helps block the release of ultraviolet-induced enzymes that eat away at your skin’s collagen, causing lines and sagging skin. What’s more, omega-3s can boost your hair’s shine, prevent your strands from drying out, and keep your scalp from flaking. “The recommended dose to reap the benefits is 600 mg of DHA per day,” Simzar says. However, if you have a history of mood disorders, fish allergies, diabetes, or high blood pressure, check with your doctor first, he advises.
“Vitamin C can improve hair growth, fight dandruff, stop hair loss, and lead to thicker hair,” while a deficiency can cause split ends, says Bank. A 2013 study found that people who took a vitamin E and C supplement appeared to have less dryness and tighter, brighter skin after four months. When it comes to supplements, how much you should take depends on your gender. Women 19 and older should take 75 mg a day, while men 19 and up should take 19 mg a day, Bank says. “Vitamin C increases the amount of iron that gets absorbed, which can be a problem for people with hemochromatosis, an iron-overload disease,” he explains.
“Vitamin E, like Vitamin C, is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight free-radical damage that leads to fine lines,” Simzar says. A 2010 study also found that men who took vitamin E supplements grew more hair than those given a placebo. It’s best to take in gel cap form, since vitamin E is fat-soluble, Simzar says. Just be careful: High doses can cause bruising. “I recommend my patients take it as recommended by their primary physicians,” advises Simzar, who notes that the recommended dose for adults is 30IU. Add it to your diet by eating vitamin E-rich foods like avocado, olive oil, and wheat germ. “Most or all of this can usually be obtained from your diet,” Simzar says