Do Vitamins For Hair, Skin & Nails Work? Dermatologists Explain

If you haven’t purchased a beauty supplement yet, chances are you’ve seen one. Thanks to the support of celebrities, influencers and social media marketing, the demand for vitamins for hair, skin and nails has exploded. In 2016, the industry was worth $ 3.5 billion, according to a report by Goldstein Research; by the end of 2024, it is expected to be valued at $ 6.8 billion.

But a pill bottle filled with powder or fruit gummies, over time, will it deliver a glowing complexion, shiny strands, and invincible nails? It sounds too good to be true, and some experts say it could be.

There is a lack of standardized dosage and regulation in beauty supplements, and these products are not tracked by a centralized database or repository. In fact, a 2020 study looked at this lack of regulation by investigating seven stores within a three-mile radius, finding 176 distinct supplements containing 225 distinct ingredients, including “vitamins, minerals, food extracts, herbal medicines, original products. animal (collagen, fish oils), amino acids, hormone and distinct microbial strains. These findings have raised concerns about the lack of knowledge about the long-term effectiveness of beauty supplements as well as the “overdose” of nutrients, because if you are not deficient in a vitamin or mineral, taking more could. cause more harm than good.

“The doses in many supplements are many multiples beyond the recommended daily amount,” says Ranella Hirsch, MD, certified dermatologist and co-founder of Atolla Skin Lab. If you are missing a particular vitamin, which a doctor should confirm with blood tests, Dr. Hirsch says, supplementing it may be beneficial for you. But the reality is that the need is rare and that “most dermatology supplements are loaded with ingredients that there is no data to prove they are effective,” says Dr. Hirsch.

Alicia Zalka, MD, a certified dermatologist and founder of Surface Deep, uses supplements in her practice because she has seen improvement in patients with specific needs. “But if the skin, hair, and nails are improving, is it because of the supplements or some other positive change? Hard to say, ”she said. That’s why she always has below promises in terms of results.

While some vitamins (such as biotin) can helps hair growth and others (like zinc) can improving skin, loading these claims into a single bottle can be confusing, which is why it’s important to understand which vitamins, if any, are linked to specific benefits for hair, skin, and nails. Here is a breakdown of the most popular beauty supplements and their claims.

Biotin

Also known as vitamin B7, biotin plays an important role in helping the body metabolize proteins, which are needed to make healthy cells in the skin, hair, and nails. Severely deficient people often end up with hair loss, eczema, and brittle nails, and supplementation can help correct these problems, says Melanie Palm, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the University of California. -San Diego and founder of The Art of. The skin.

But if you’re already getting the recommended 30 micrograms of biotin per day, loading up on a supplement won’t give you a beauty boost, according to a review of 18 studies. As long as you eat a balanced diet, you are almost certainly full. The nutrient is found in eggs, salmon, pork chops, burgers, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, almonds, broccoli and spinach.

In addition, a recent study by Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD) has found that taking biotin supplements can interfere with a variety of lab tests, including those for thyroid problems and cardiac arrest. “Stop taking biotin for two days before [to blood tests] and tell your doctor about this supplement if you have blood tests for thyroid function, ”says Dr Zalka.

Prenatal vitamins

Pregnant women are known to have thick, shiny hair that grows really fast. But contrary to popular belief, it’s not because they take prenatal vitamins.

“It’s more likely the hormones of pregnancy, not the vitamins, that improve hair growth,” says Sheryl Hoyer, MD, a certified dermatologist at the North Shore Center for Medical Aesthetics in Northbrook, IL.

In fact, there is no evidence that prenatals do anything for hair growth whether you are pregnant or not, she adds. So unless you are having a baby (or trying to have one), don’t bother buying them.

Keratin

Keratin is the structural protein that makes up the outermost layer of hair, skin, and nails. Our bodies produce a lot of it on their own, but beauty enthusiasts often claim that supplementation can make hair stronger and shinier. Again, there is no evidence to support this.

In fact, keratin is very resistant to digestive acids in your stomach, so taking a supplement might cause more harm than good. “Cats who regularly groom themselves with their tongue often form hairballs in their intestines that they eventually vomit because they can’t ingest the keratin in their fur,” says Dr. Hoyer. (You don’t wanna end up like this, do you?)

Collagen

Like keratin, collagen is a natural structural protein that makes the skin appear smooth and plump. And when production declines with age, wrinkles start to form.

So, does that complete the fountain of youth? A small, industry-funded study showed that women who took ampoules containing 2.5 grams of collagen peptides for 12 weeks improved skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density. (Independent studies are very rare.)

But this is not a foolproof solution. “In your gut, the collagen [that you consume through food or a supplement] is broken down into amino acids. And it’s up to your body how these amino acids are used, ”says Dr. Palm. “It could turn into protein to help your blood vessels, repair your liver, or stimulate your brain, not necessarily amino acids to make collagen.”

In other words, collagen could be a beneficial anti-aging agent, but there is no guarantee.

Vitamin C

It is an antioxidant and a potentially powerful antioxidant. Vitamin C has been shown to protect against aging and skin cancer by stimulating collagen production, preventing collagen breakdown, and fighting melanin formation (skin pigmentation), says Dr. Hoyer.

The problem? Even in large doses, only a fraction of this vitamin C supplement actually gets into your skin.

Topical products that contain vitamin C (usually in a serum) are well researched and more effective, but creating a stable formula is very tricky, so be sure to go with dermatologist-approved brands that are supported by clinical trials and contain L-ascorbic acid.

Omega 3

Here is the only supplement that could actually do you any good. These essential fatty acids provide essential nutrition for healthy hair and skin cells. “The cell membranes in our skin are made up of a layer derived from cholesterol, and omega-3s are needed to help maintain it. Likewise, they contribute to the integrity of the hair, ”explains Palm.

In other words, being full could contribute to a more glowing complexion and shinier locks. If you don’t regularly eat fish like salmon and tuna, aim for 500 mg of DHA and EPA (the most potent types of omega-3s, found in oily fish) per day, recommends Dr. Palm. Nature Made Fish Oil Pearls will help you achieve your daily goal.

Zinc

Zinc is a popular ingredient in facial cleansers and spot treatments for acne, and some studies have shown that taking it orally can help fight inflammatory skin conditions, like acne and rosacea. This is why Dr Zalka recommends it to his acne patients who reach low levels.

However, the AAD recently concluded that there is insufficient current evidence to recommend the use of zinc supplements for skin conditions.

Zinc also plays a role in cell division and protein synthesis, so if you have dry or weak nails it can be a sign that you are not eating enough.

Women can reach the daily recommendation of 8 milligrams by eating oysters (the best source of zinc), beef, fortified cereals, baked beans, lobster or crab, nuts, cheese, oats , chicken and yogurt.

The bottom line

Beauty supplements have mixed reviews from experts and consumers. And although the market for them is very complicated, there are a few products that have consistently risen to the top as trusted and well-made brands namely Nutrafol and Viviscal for Hair Health.

Remember, if you are considering taking a supplement, always see your doctor first. “You can do too much with vitamins. Don’t think that a little is good and a lot is better, ”says Dr Zalka. “Before starting a supplement regimen, consult your trusted health care provider, especially if you are pregnant. ”

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Patricia J. Callender