Brittle hair and nails are prone to damage that destroys your style. Fight back by supplementing your diet with vitamins and minerals. Because keratin is the main protein that holds the structure of your hair and nails together, start with supplements that support healthy keratin levels. In addition to taking nutritional supplements, it’s important to eat a healthy diet and do what you can to minimize damage.
Why Supplements Can Help
Nutritional deficiencies play a large role in the health and strength of your entire body, including your hair and nails. Supplements fill some of your nutritional gaps and strengthen your hair and nails from the inside. Boosting certain vitamins and minerals supports your body's ability to produce keratin and collagen, which are responsible for keeping your skin, nails and hair healthy, supple and lustrous.
Biotin is a B vitamin that is easily absorbed by the nails. It thickens and strengthens brittle nails and supports their growth. Other helpful supplements include silica, a mineral that boosts the strength of hair and nails, and omega-3 fatty acids, which enhance skin and scalp health while making your hair shinier. Zinc helps regulate some of the enzymes that are responsible for healthy, strong growth. Supplementing with amino acids, which are the building blocks for all connective tissues including hair and nails, can boost strength while helping to prevent brittleness. If you're anemic, supplementing with iron can help.
Healthy Diet, Healthy Hair and Nails
In addition to supplements, eating a protein-rich, balanced diet is another way to support healthy hair and nails. Getting enough protein is particularly important because both your nails and your hair are primarily made of keratin, which is a type of protein that gives hair and nails a sturdy structure. Lean meat, eggs, nuts, whole grains, seafood and soybeans are good sources of protein. Additionally, foods such as spinach, walnuts and flaxseed provide omega-3 fatty acids, while bananas, lentils and cauliflower are good sources of biotin.
Other Ways to Strengthen Hair
Although supplementing your diet and feeding your hair from the inside out is important, it's also important to take care of nails and hair externally to protect them from damage. For example, exposure to harsh chemicals and heat damages your tresses. Avoid excessive use of hair color or other chemicals. Avoid overwashing your hair and limit your use of strand-damaging hot tools, which can cause irreversible heat damage.
Other Ways to Strengthen Nails
Harsh chemicals, water and detergents can all leave your nails brittle and susceptible to damage. Protect your nails by wearing gloves while washing dishes to prevent damage caused by water and detergents. Avoid overusing chemical-laden nail polishes and polish removers, which contain harsh solvents that weaken fingernails. Also, when you file your nails, only file them in a single direction to avoid splitting the nails and making them more fragile.
Many factors contribute to brittle hair and nails, and not all of them can be helped with supplements. Check with your doctor if you don't see any improvement in your condition. It might be caused by an underlying medical problem.
- Nutrition for Healthy Skin; Jean Krutmann, Philippe Humbert, Editors
- Solve It With Supplements; Robert Schulman
- The Best Supplements for Your Health; Donald P. Goldberg et al.
- NYU Langone Medical Center: Brittle Nails
- Better Nutrition: Beauty at Your Fingertips
- Woman's Day: What to Eat for Healthy Hair and Nails
- American Academy of Dermatology: Going to Great Lengths for Beautiful Hair