The vitamin and supplement aisle can be quite daunting. There are hundreds of choices ranging from words some of us have never heard of to items we didn’t know were vitamins to begin with. Choosing the right vitamins and supplements for your body can be hard. Considering we are all in need of different vitamins, knowing what is going to fit best into your life can require a lot of research. Today, we are going to start with an explanation of vitamins for your skin.
The first thing to help you better navigate the vitamin and supplement aisle is knowing the difference between the two things.
Dietary supplements (often referred to as just supplements), can contain a combination of vitamins, minerals, and/or phytonutrients. Phytonutrients, such as carotenoids and flavonoids, are naturally occurring chemicals in fruits and vegetables that may provide additional health benefits.
A vitamin is a type of chemical compound that is a vital nutrient for an organism. When someone refers to a vitamin, they are talking about a dietary supplement that contains vitamins.
Vitamins in pill or capsule form are a type of dietary supplement, but a dietary supplement is not always a vitamin. While this seems confusing, it really is not. It’s like how a square is always a rectangle, but a rectangle is not always a square. Supplements are any product that adds nutritional value to your diet or augments health. Vitamins are a type of supplement. Other types of supplements include minerals, herbs, or nutrients like fiber.
Vitamins naturally come from food, while most supplements on the market, although labeled as a “vitamin” contain synthetics, binders and stimulants.
Why taking vitamins and supplements is important
We all know that vitamins are essentially a good thing, yet so many skip out on their daily doses of vitamins. In modern life, multiple factors affect why we do not receive adequate nutrition simply from eating, such as busy schedules and the temptations to eat unhealthy, processed foods. In addition, nutrient content of modern food is compromised due to soil erosion, processing, pollution, and changes in farming methods.
According to the FDA, we must intake more fruits and vegetables in a day than most of us are capable of consuming. If eating a perfect diet seems difficult, if not impossible to maintain, the best way to ensure you receive more of what you need to stay healthy is to take vitamins.
In the health food market there are many vitamins and mineral supplements from which to choose, and most people take supplements not knowing exactly what their bodies need. There is also a vast difference between high-quality vitamin and mineral supplements and those manufactured with lesser attention to ingredients, and which contain fillers and chemicals. Unless you are someone who works with vitamins and supplements on a daily basis, these differences will be hard to detect, if not impossible. This is why it is so important to speak with your doctor about which vitamin brands will be most worth your time and money.
Can hair, skin and nail vitamins help?
When in the vitamin and supplement aisle you will see several brands that are offering one pill that works towards healthier hair, skin and nails. Particular nutrient deficiencies are known to affect hair. However, while formulations marketed as targeting hair, skin and nails usually contain a combination of vitamins and other compounds, these vary considerably and may not be relevant to your needs.
In fact, some of them may even contain dosages well above the recommended daily values for certain nutrients, which can lead to complications.
For example, many vitamin blends contain vitamin A. This is because vitamin A has a role in building and strengthening skin and other tissues. However, in the absence of deficiency, supplementation may actually prove harmful to hair. Over-supplementation of certain nutrients, including selenium, vitamin A, and vitamin E, has actually been linked to hair loss.
Biotin helps to maintain the health of our hair, skin and nails and is commonly added to supplements. Despite its reputation, there is limited research to support the usefulness of biotin in healthy individuals, although it is effective for the treatment of brittle fingernails in cases of deficiency or illness.
Vitamin D supplements might be useful in people with certain types of dermatitis (skin inflammation), but evidence for vitamin E is less conclusive. It’s the same for nails. Although virtually every nutritional deficiency can affect the growth of the nail in some manner, not much evidence supports the use of vitamin supplementation for improving nail health in well-nourished people.
So although vitamins play key roles in the formation and maintenance of good hair, skin and nails, supplements will generally only be useful if you’re not getting sufficient nutrients already. This is why it is important to speak with your doctor about starting to use vitamins or supplements before adding them to your diet on your own. Too much of a good thing can actually be damaging. Research on the benefits of supplements and certain vitamins is ongoing, so it is best to remember that the best source of vitamins for the skin, hair and nails, is a properly balanced diet.