Supplements for hair, skin and nails

Want shinier, healthier hair? How about fewer wrinkles and stronger nails?

What if you could get it from a pill?

Well, that’s what some supplements promise. But do they work?

Before you spend your money, Consumer Reports has the facts you need to know.

Drugstore shelves are full of supplements that promise to improve hair, nails, and skin.

A month’s supply can cost you anywhere from a few dollars to over $100! Most of them contain ingredients like vitamins A, C and E; Coenzyme Q10; and also biotin, which is a B vitamin.

Hair supplements often contain manganese and selenium, as well as fatty acids like fish oil and flaxseed oil.

And all of that may sound good, but where is the science that says it works?

Well, if your body has a nutrient deficiency, it can lead to changes in hair and sometimes skin and nails.

For example, not consuming enough vitamins A and E can lead to rough, scaly patches on the skin.

Or a biotin deficiency can cause eczema and hair loss.

But deficiencies are relatively rare.

Most people can get the necessary nutrients through a healthy diet.

And experts say there’s no solid evidence that taking a supplement will help with normal hair loss related to aging or nail damage, or give you healthier skin.

And what’s worse, consuming too much of a nutrient can also be bad – like taking too much vitamin A can actually trigger hair loss.

But millions of people take supplements. If this is your case, buy with caution because dietary supplements are not strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and may contain substances not listed on the label or contain significantly fewer or more ingredients than promised.

If you choose to take supplements, CR suggests that you choose one whose content has been verified or certified by US Pharmacopeia, ConsumerLab.com, NSF International or UL.

According to Consumer Reports, simple things like drinking plenty of water, eating a balanced diet and avoiding too much time in the sun can make the difference in keeping your hair, skin and nails healthy.

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Patricia J. Callender