Vitamins are micronutrients that are required by the body in a certain quantity to smoothly carry out its metabolic activities. Both deficiency and excess of the vitamins is harmful to the body. They play a key role in many vital processes of the growth of various body parts. Vitamin deficiency is commonly seen in the setting of malnutrition, which means that the individual is not taking enough quantity of vitamins in their diet. Excessive vitamins are a result of taking certain foods frequently, which are a rich source of a particular vitamin. Both these conditions signify the importance of taking a balanced diet so that the body has vitamins present in just the right amount.
Skin, hair and nails are the most noticeable parts of the body. Any marks, deformity or dullness of these structures are typically an indication of some sort of deficiency, which can be a deficiency of water, vitamins or other nutrients. The health and beauty of these structures can be enhanced by oral intake and topical application of nail, hair and skin vitamins.
Vitamins are available in numerous forms and combinations. You can also take a particular vitamin’s supplement, depending on your need. Here is a brief discussion on how vitamins for skin, hair and nail work.
Vitamin A has skin healing, skin regenerating, and anti-oxidants effect. It stimulates the immune system to cure the skin lesions and regenerate the skin tissue. 1 It promotes skin repair and aids in the growth of new skin cells. The topical application of Vitamin A is used to treat acne.
It is worth noting here that excess vitamin A contributes to the hair loss, therefore, it should be used cautiously in the allowed dose.
Some natural sources of vitamin A are:
Also known as vitamin B1, thiamine is an anti-stress hormone of the body, aiding in preventing stress-related breakouts. Utilizing the energy from glucose, it helps in wound healing. 2
Thiamine for good health and growth of hair is used widely in hair care products. The potential of thiamine to enhance the nerve functioning help in maintaining the hair length. The anti-oxidant potential of thiamine helps protect hair from the damage caused by free radicals. The end result is hair looking young and healthy.
Hair cells are fast-growing cells of the body and metabolically very active compared to other cells. Thiamine keeps a check that metabolic needs of hair cells are being fulfilled.3
Thiamine is found in following food:
Riboflavin is also known as vitamin B2. This vitamin maintains the structural integrity of the skin, an important component for healthy and youthful skin. It stimulates cell turnover and aids collagen maintenance. The effects of vitamin B2 reduce unnecessary inflammation and speed up wound healing. Vitamin B2 promotes mucus secretion in the skin, which helps in preventing skin dryness. It also helps in zinc absorption, which is another important mineral for good skin.
It is present in:
Niacin has a strong anti-ageing effect. 4 It specifically works on the wrinkles and fine lines to give skin a smooth and fresh texture. It treats various skin conditions such as acne, dermatitis, eczema, and sunburn.
Niacin is present in:
5. Pantothenic acid
The hydration of the skin is essential to keep it fresh, prevent excessive dryness and promote the fuller effect. Pantothenic acid, known as vitamin B5 commonly, acts as a humectant. It preserves the skin moisture, and thus, helps in preventing acne and reducing signs of aging.5
Food sources of Vitamin B5 are:
Biotin helps in fat metabolism in the body. It protects the cells from damage and thus, water loss too. The net effect is the skin becomes moist, hydrated and pulpy.
Biotin deficiency is associated with brittle nails, dry hairs and flaky skins. Severe deficiency of vitamin B7 (biotin) causes red and scaly skin.
Biotin helps the hair to grow and become healthy.6 It does so by aiding protein-building amino acids’ metabolism. They help in nail and hair growth and improve symptoms of brittle nails. 7
Biotin occurs naturally in:
Vitamin B-6 is a common name of pyridoxine. It helps in regulating the mood and sleep. It promotes melatonin and norepinephrine secretion in the body. Melatonin helps to promote peaceful sleep, while, norepinephrine combats the stress. Inadequate sleep and stress are major triggers for the initiation of unnecessary inflammation, which lead to premature aging and acne breakouts. Vitamin B6 has been implicated in the treatment of skin diseases. 8
Natural sources include:
Cobalamin, commonly referred to as vitamin B12, makes nail strong and healthy. It enhances iron absorption. Both iron and vitamin B12 aids in red cells development. An adequate number of red blood cells improves the blood flow to the nail bed and thus improves their health.
Deficiency of vitamin B12 often manifests as blue, blackish pigments on nails with longitudinal dark streaks.9
Vitamin B12 also has skin benefits. It stimulates the cell production, reduces inflammation and prevents dryness.
Natural sources of Vitamin B12 are:
9. Folic Acid
Folic acid or Vitamin B9 helps in nail growth by a similar mechanism as vitamin B12. Its deficiency is associated with rigid and brittle nails. The anti-oxidant potential allows combating oxidative stress produced by free radical.
10. Vitamin C
Vitamin C promotes the production of collagen in the body, which is the building block of hair, fingernails and teeth. It provides strength and integrity to the skin and helps to maintain its structure. It thickens the dermis – a skin layer – work on fine lines and makes the skin firm and youthful. Being an antioxidant, it reduces the extent of damage produced by free radicals.10
Natural sources are:
11. Vitamin D
Vitamin D stimulates the new and old hair follicles and promotes hair growth. 3
It is present in:
12. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. It has numerous hair and skin benefits. It supports the scalp for proper hair growth. It preserves the protective lipid layer of the skin and maintains its integrity. Topical application of vitamin E on skin nourishes it and protect against free radical damage.11
Vitamin E is found in:
13. Vitamin K
Vitamin K speeds up the skin healing process. 12 It soothes the inflammation and helps in reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
Vitamin K is abundantly found in green leafy vegetables.
In addition to these essential 13 vitamins, some combinations can also be taken to have a beneficial effect on the health of skin, hair and nails.