Archive of ‘Vitamins’ category

Biotin: A Great Solution for Hair and Nails

One of the two most common complaints in my practice is hair breakage and brittle nails. I always recommend biotin because this super vitamin really helps to grow strong hair and nails.

There is quite a lot of research to support the use of biotin for hair breakage. Biotin is a B vitamin that is necessary for cell growth. Biotin deficiency leads to hair loss and biotin has even been used in children with genetically brittle hair to improve strength and manageability.

It is important to understand that biotin will not actually stimulate new hair growth. Biotin does, however, prevent breakage and therefore improves overall hair health and thickness. You need at least 3000 micrograms of biotin daily to get the best results AND it can take up to six months to see improvement. This is because hair grows an average of one centimeter per month so you need to be patient.

The good news is that, for nails, the results are much quicker and my patients always comment on nail improvement first. So for thicker hair and stronger nails, consider taking a biotin supplement daily.

Solutions for Dry, Brittle Nails

Dry, brittle nails are a common problem in women. Sometimes trauma to the nails can lead to dryness, splitting and other nail changes. However, for many women, these nail problems appear spontaneously and there is no obvious cause. If you have dry, brittle nails, there are a few things you can do to help.  Biotin is a vitamin for the hair and nails, and this works well to strengthen the nails. It can take several months to notice a change so it is important to be patient. I usually recommend at least 3000 micrograms daily to get the best results.

The nail matrix is the white area at the bottom of the nail bed next to the cuticle. This is where your nails are made. For this reason, it is important to avoid any trauma to the cuticle, because any trauma in this area can affect the matrix and cause splitting, peeling and other nail changes. Avoid extensive clipping and cutting of the cuticle during manicures, which can cause trauma to the cuticle. Application of Vaseline to the cuticle area daily can hydrate the cuticle and improve overall nail health.  It is important to note that some medical conditions, like psoriasis and eczema, can also cause nail changes. These can be treated with topical steroid creams. It is best to see a dermatologist if you think you may have one of these conditions to get the best results.

The Best Sources of Antioxidants are Delicious!!!

We all know that antioxidants are great for your skin.  They work by preventing free radical damage in the skin.  For a really great explanation of free radicals and how they damage our skin, read my post here.  But the quick summary is: antioxidants are good for us inside and out.  They fight free radicals that can harm our skin.  So where should we get our antioxidants? First, we can use products that contain antioxidants during the day.  Antioxidants are especially useful in sunscreens.  Second, we can include them in our diet. The department of agriculture lists the following as the top twenty antioxidant foods:

  1. Small red beans (dried)                                                 11. Strawberries
  2. Blueberries (wild)                                                          12. Red Delicious apples
  3. Red kidney beans (dried)                                               13. Granny Smith apples
  4. Pinto beans                                                                   14. Pecans
  5. Blueberries (cultivated)                                                  15. Sweet cherries
  6. Cranberries                                                                   16. Black plums
  7. Artichoke hearts (cooked)                                              17. Russet potatoes (cooked)
  8. Blackberries                                                                   18. Black beans (dried)
  9. Prunes                                                                           19. Plums
  10. Raspberries                                                                    20. Gala apples

I love this list!  Most foods on the list are obvious–lots of fruits and berries.  But some are unexpected, like artichoke hearts, russet potatoes, and even pecans–the only nut to make the list.

What are Antioxidants and How do They Work in the Skin?

We always hear that antioxidants are good for us, but you have probably wondered, “What exactly do antioxidants do?”.  Well first, let me explain what free radicals are and how they harm our skin.  Normally the molecules in our body have electrons in pairs.   Many different things, such as sunlight or pollution, can make our molecules unstable and cause them to lose an electron.   Free radicals are unstable molecules that only have one electron.  To put it simply, these molecules desperately want to find another electron so that they can have a pair again, so they steal an electron from the nearest stable molecule.  This new unstable molecule now steals an electron from another molecule to get an even pair of electrons. Doesn’t this sound like a bad reality dating show?  Anyway, this process of stealing electrons from other molecules can eventually lead to cell damage.

This is where antioxidants come in to save the day.  Antioxidants basically donate an electron to the free radical to make it stable.  Antioxidants are stable whether they have one electron or two, so they protect our cells by donating electrons and stopping the free radical cascade. Vitamin E and Vitamin C are two of the most prevalent antioxidants present in our skin.  Applying antioxidants topically can also help to stop free radical damage from sunlight and other causes.   You can also get antioxidants from diets rich in fruits and vegetables.  So stock up on these types of foods, wear sunscreen, and apply antioxidants and you will be well on your way to healthy radiant skin!

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