What to Eat for Healthy Hair and Nails

No doubt you know that eating healthy is good for you in a plethora of ways—it can decrease your risk of disease, improve your immune system, increase your energy levels and even affect your sleeping habits. But did you know certain foods can improve the way you look, too? Read on to find out which nutrients will give your hair and nails extra luster, strength and shine.

Biotin/Vitamin H
nannasBiotin (a.k.a. vitamin H) can improve hair that is splitting or thinning as well as strengthen weakened nails. Taken with zinc and the corticosteroid clobetasol propionate, biotin has even been used to treat alopecia, an autoimmune skin disease marked by the loss of hair. Nina DiBona, RD, dietitian and nutritionist at the Sports Club/LA in Boston, agrees. “A deficiency in biotin may result in brittle hair or even hair loss.” An easy way to remember: The H in vitamin H stands for “haar and haut,” which means “hair and nails” in German, DiBona notes.
Foods to Try: Bananas, beans, cauliflower, eggs, lentils, peanuts and salmon. Photo: Shutterstock

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

To get shinier hair, introduce more omega-3s into your diet, which “help support scalp health and may give your locks extra luster and shine,” according to DiBona. The three active ingredients—alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid—are all essential fatty acids and “are important components of the stratum corneum, which is the outermost layer of the epidermis that contains keratin and has water-holding capabilities. Deficiency in essential fatty acids can result in dry scalp or dandruff,” she says.
Foods to Try: Eggs, flaxseed, fish oil, mackerel, salmon, sardines, spinach, tuna and walnuts. Photo: Shutterstock