Best Foods for Your Hair, Skin, and Nails

Portrait of a young blond woman

The secret to having amazing hair, skin, and nails is to eat a balanced diet, rich in healthy foods. Start up for fall—make sure to eat right to get your hair and nails looking their best, and your skin feeling refreshed!


Believe it or not, your hair, skin, and nails are made up mostly of protein! This means your hair NEEDS protein to grow correctly. When you eat a protein-rich diet, your hair will grow and your nails will be stronger. You might also see your skin starting to feel softer and look brighter.


Too little iron can lead to hair loss, because iron helps cells carry oxygen to the hair follicles. Lean meats like clams, oysters, pork, beef, and fish are great sources of iron. Vegetarian options that are high in iron include cereals, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, white beans, lentils, and spinach.

Vitamin D

Studies show that vitamin D plays a role in healthy skin and the “hair cycle” of life. You can get your daily dose of D from its natural source—the sun. Shoot for at least 10 minutes a day. Take a break and enjoy a nice stroll outside, walk your dog, or enjoy a beautiful picnic! Foods such as milk, orange juice, and cereals also have lots of vitamin D. Greek yogurt is another great choice. In addition to vitamin D, Greek yogurt contains vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), an ingredient found on hair care product labels.


Selenium is an antioxidant trace mineral that fights damaging free radicals. Nuts and seeds are a good natural food source for selenium—Brazil nuts, walnuts, cashews, and sunflower seeds are best. The same goes for beef, poultry, and grains. Fresh seafood such as tuna, cod, red snapper, herring, sardines, lobster and scallops are rich in selenium, and the essential fatty acids in fish can also help hydrate the hair and skin.

Biotin and Zinc

Biotin and zinc can help your hair and nails grow. Without biotin, an essential B vitamin, your nails may be weak and brittle, and your hair may be thin with split ends. Swiss chard, carrots, strawberries, raspberries, milk, and eggs are all excellent sources of biotin. Foods rich in zinc include scallops, oysters, turkey, beef, lamb, peas, shrimp, pumpkin and sesame seeds, and oats.

Vitamins A and C

Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin, and can be found in many topical skin care creams. Foods rich in beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A, include sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, mangoes, pumpkin, and apricots. Vitamin C prevents hair breakage by increasing circulation to the scalp. Blueberries, papaya, broccoli, and bell peppers are all packed with vitamin C.

Weight Loss

Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is essential for beautiful hair, skin, and nails. Restrictive diets can damage your hair and nails by putting the body through stress, and making you nutrient deficient. If you need to lose weight, do it in a healthy, doctor-approved way. Don’t worry – you may have some hair loss, but it’s completely normal. It’s very common to shed hair after you lose 15 pounds or more. Your body is starting a new healthy cycle. Your hair will come back after your weight becomes stable.

Interesting Facts

• For about 90% of the time, your hair is in a “growing phase.” Each hair stays in the growing phase for 2 to 3 years. Afterward, hair starts a “resting phase” for about 3 months. These resting hairs are later replaced by new hair. If you are lacking protein, not enough hair goes into the resting phase, which halts the new emerging hair process.

•Your scalp has anywhere from 120,000-150,000 strands of hair. Normally, 50 to 100 strands are shed each day.

• Skin is your body’s largest organ.

• Nails only grow a millimeter a month. When nails don’t break, that’s when they become longer.