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Beauty From The Inside Out

Hair, Skin, Nails & Eyes

Edited from an article by Sarah Callard - Natural Products Magazine


   Our hair, skin and nails are on show every day and we want them to look their best. They are also a very good indicator of how we feel inside as well as our general health and wellbeing.

   More people are looking for natural ways to boost the health and appearance of hair, skin and nails from within, as well as to address problems such as hair loss and acne, which can cause stress and embarrassment to sufferers.

   There is a group of key nutrients which work on all three areas: hair, skin and nails. Silica is one of these, because it forms part of all connective tissue cells. Collagen is another all-rounder nutrient, and is responsible for suppleness, strength and flexibility. It also helps to build keratin, which is the protein nails and hair are made from.

   A healthy diet is, of course, vital for healthy hair, skin and nails and, as Cathy Robinson, nutritional therapist at Higher Nature explains, protein is key. “One really important aspect is to get enough protein, which is the building block for skin, hair and nails. If protein is low in the diet, many people find that nails will split or crack,” she says, adding: “Good protein sources include white meat, oily fish, nuts, seeds, eggs and tofu.”

Hair Loss - Man & Women
   Shona Wilkinson, head nutritionist at the Nutri Centre, says “Hair loss is a common concern with women and it’s important to find the cause for it – it may be lack of iron, thyroid problems or perhaps stress.”

   “Once you have ascertained the cause you can consider how best to approach the problem and which supplements to take,” she explains.

   Robinson agrees that hair loss is a real concern for men, and increasingly, women. One of the side effects of ageing is hair loss, and a significant number of women also experience this at some stage in their lives.

   “Often people complain that their skin and hair are dull and that their hair is thinner than before,” says Robinson, who recommends that sufferers “combine a quality shampoo containing all-natural ingredients, which is gentle on the scalp with supplements to feed hair from within.”

   Lots of formulations designed for hair, skin and nail health contain the herb horsetail which is a natural form of silica. These include Higher Nature's Hair & Nail Formula and Solgar's Skin, Nails and Hair Tablets both provide silica alongside nutrients such as zinc and MSM or sulphur.

   “Organic sulphur is a key constituent in the extra cellular matrix, the mesh-like structure that holds all tissues in shape,” explains Dale Pinnock from Viridian. “Ensuring an adequate intake of this nutrient can help to keep the extra cellular matrix sturdy, helping skin hold its structure.”

Other vital nutrients for healthy hair include vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, biotin, vitamins C, D and E, zinc and MSM, which is sometimes known as the ‘beauty nutrient’.

   “Iron is really important, especially for hair,” says Alison Cullen, education manager at A Vogel. “B vitamins are important because they counter the effects of stress, Antioxidants protect collagen from damage and help the skin maintain its elasticity and youthfulness.” she adds.


Digestive Aids
   Stress, toxins and poor circulation can all affect the appearance and texture of our hair and skin. Herbs like horsetail can really boost the strength and overall health of hair, skin and nails, but often there is something else at the root of the problem: poor digestive health.

   Cathy Robinson from Higher Nature says it is vital that people get enough protein in their diets because it is “the building block for skin, hair and nails.”

   She adds: “Of course, protein must be digested properly in order for it to be of any use; this is one of the reasons good digestion is so vital for skin, hair and nail health. If our digestive system is not functioning well, a digestive enzyme supplement might be beneficial to help break down the protein in the diet.”

   Alison Cullen agrees with the importance of getting enough protein and maintaining a healthy digestive system for clear, problem-free skin. “Herbs that get the bowel moving are excellent, as poor bowel function can cause breakouts on the skin.”

   Other herbs recommended by Cullen include Golden Rod, because it helps to flush out toxins, and Centaurium, a bitter herb that stimulates the digestive system.

   “Many people’s problems stem from poor digestion which causes bad bowel function and leads to poor absorption of nutrients from the diet,” says Cullen.


Skin Health
   Women have always been concerned about the appearance of their skin and have sought ways to boost their complexions, whether it’s tackling acne, reducing the appearance of lines, or combating the ageing process.
Pinnock says the key nutrients for building healthy skin include the right Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs). “These compounds help regulate inflammation by delivering the building blocks that the body uses to manufacture its natural anti-inflammatory compounds. This makes them a useful tool in the management of skin issues such as eczema and psoriasis.”

   He adds that EFAs can also be beneficial for keeping skin soft and supple, maintaining the health of skin cells and generally helping it function better. “This will make the skin retain moisture more effectively and make topical products have a more pronounced effect.”

   Pinnock also recommends carefully selected antioxidants such as beta carotene and astaxanthin for improving skin health, which he says help to “protect collagen from damage, helping the skin maintain its elasticity and youthfulness.”

Bright Eyes
   Eyes suffer from stresses and strains just like the rest of our bodies, particularly if you spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer screen, which many of us do. Contact lens wearers may also suffer from dry, sore eyes.

   Key nutrients for healthy eyes include the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Carotenoids are naturally occurring antioxidants obtained from green vegetables and plants like algae.

   Lutein and zeaxanthin are incorporated into the retina of the eye and are thought to work by ‘mopping up’ the free radicals which can cause cellular damage.

   There are various products designed to help with tired, strained eyes including Solgar's Vision Guard Plus Vegetable Capsules: a combination of antioxidant vitamins, bilberry extract, lutein, and minerals such as selenium and zinc.

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