The Side Effects of Hair, Skin & Nails Vitamins

Everyone wants luxurious hair, glowing skin and strong nails, all of which depend on an adequate intake of nutrients. Beauty supplements are purported to provide all the vitamins and minerals needed for these benefits — but are they safe? Because such products often contain large doses of vitamins, they can cause side effects. As with any nutritional supplement, check with your doctor before taking any of these products.

Beauty supplements may cause intestinal complaints. Credit: Photo by Cathy Scola/Moment/GettyImages

Hair, Skin and Nails Pills

Florida Academy lists some of the top nutrients needed for healthy hair, skin and nails. These common components of beauty supplements include vitamins A, C, D, E, K, several B vitamins and zinc. Beauty supplements are similar to multivitamins, but their formulas are often somewhat less extensive. They also may also contain inactive ingredients of soy or peanuts.

Possible side effects of these types of supplements may include diarrhea, constipation and upset stomach, says WebMD. Symptoms are usually temporary and go away in time. The inactive ingredients, however, may produce allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. This response is rare and may manifest as hives or swelling of the tongue, face or throat.

Always take the recommended dose. Overdosing can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It may also lead to fainting or difficulty breathing, which is a medical emergency.

Biotin's Role in Beauty Supplements

Biotin is a popular component of hair, skin and nail pills. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, deficiencies in biotin or vitamin B7, have been associated with hair loss and skin rashes. The institute cites preliminary evidence that indicates the vitamin may strengthen brittle nails.

It's often included as one of the ingredients in beauty supplements, but some consumers opt to take it alone. Whether you take it singly or in combination with other vitamins, it tends to be well tolerated.

Read more: Signs of Too Much Biotin in Your System

Be aware, however, that the very high dosage of biotin present in beauty supplements — up to 650 times the recommended daily allowance — can cause incorrect lab test scores. The U.S. food & Drug Administration warns that high biotin intake may skew hormone levels and markers of heart attacks such as troponin. These inaccuracies may lead to misdiagnosis and inappropriate patient management, which sometimes pose a grave danger.

Biotin can also interact with certain medications, and, conversely, some medications may interact with biotin:

  • Drugs prescribed for epilepsy can lower biotin levels, cautions the National Institutes of Health.

  • Biotin can reduce the efficacy of drugs broken down by the liver, warns MedlinePlus. These include the antispasmodic medication cyclobenzaprine and the antipsychotic drug clozapine, as well as the heart medication propranolol, the bronchodilator theophylline

    and others.

Is biotin effective for hair and nail growth? A 2017 study appearing in the journal Skin Appendage Disorders states that little research supports the use of the supplement in healthy individuals, but supplements may be of value in the case of biotin deficiency.

Read more: What Is a Safe Dosage of Biotin?

Alternatives to Beauty Supplements

Since hair, skin and nails pills have a downside, is there a better way to get all the nutrients you need for a healthy complexion and hair? Following a healthy diet that's rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fatty fish will help ensure an adequate intake without posing any possible side effects. Healthline recommends foods that are particularly beneficial, including:

  • Fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel, for omega-3 fatty acids
  • Avocados for vitamin E and essential fatty acids
  • Seeds for vitamin E, zinc and selenium
  • Nuts for essential fatty acids
  • Sweet potatoes for beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A
  • Sweet peppers for vitamin C
  • Spinach for iron, folate and vitamins A and C
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