This is by no means a comprehensive overview of nails and health. And, there are numerous factors that affect hair and nails, including environment, genetics, medications, trauma, and diet. But, I hope you find this interesting and informative.
The average human with a full head of hair contains between 85,000 to 150,000 hairs.
It's normal to lose 50 to 100 hairs a day but anyone who notices thinning hair should see a dermatologist.
Hairstyles that pull the hair, like ponytails and braids, can cause hair loss.
Fingernails grow 0.1 millimeters each day and toenails grow 1 millimeter a month. Fingernails grow faster than toenails, and nails grow faster in a warmer climate than in a colder climate.
Omega-3s from salmon, mackerel, anchovies and sardines are beneficial for your overall health, but your body also needs them to grow hair and keep it shiny and full.
Protein, containing all the essential amino acids, provides the building block of your hair and nails. By the way, it is not true that gelatin (either eating it or soaking nails in it) are great for your nails. Gelatin is a protein, but is not of very good quality and is considered incomplete (missing one or more essential amino acids). Any other complete protein source would provide better nutrient support for your nails and hair than gelatin (despite the marketing on gelatin packaging).
Along with very low protein, a severely calorie-restricted diet can also cause temporary hair loss.
Cells that build hair rely on zinc to help them work their hardest.
Foods and activities that increase blood flow, or circulation, help bring oxygen and nutrients to your hair follicles.
Your body turns beta carotene into vitamin A. That helps protect against dry, dull hair. It also encourages the glands in your scalp to make an oily fluid called sebum.
When you don't get enough protein, hair growth "rests" and older hairs fall out, which can result in excessive hair loss.
Getting too little iron can lead to hair loss. You can find this important nutrient in fortified cereal, grains, and pastas, and in soybeans and lentils, and dark green leafy vegetables (note: spinach is not a good source of iron. Only about 1% of the iron in spinach is bioavailable because it is tied up by the high level of oxalates contained in spinach. It also binds most of the calcium).
Vitamin A (or beta-carotene), iron, folate, and vitamin C work together for a healthy scalp and hair. They help keep the scalp and hair moisturized so it doesn't break.
Two other B vitamins, pantothenic acid (B5) and biotin, play important roles in hair health, and deficiencies of either can affect hair health or cause hair loss.
Most vitamin deficiencies can lead to hair loss. All the vitamins and minerals are important, but that doesn't mean that you necessarily need to buy special supplements for your hair or nails. Of course there are exceptions, but eating a healthy mixed diet, taking a quality multivitamin/mineral supplement, getting adequate hydration, protein and calories will generally provide all the nutrients you need to support healthy nails and hair.
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From Deanna: Personally, I am thankful for USANA's CellSentials and Health Pak, since both provide a wide variety of essential nutrients for healthy hair and nails.