Q: What are the best ways to obtain nutrients?

A: From Mearaph Barnes, dietetic intern at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center:

Taking a multivitamin seems to have become a normal part of the average person’s day. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination (NHANES) survey, 52% of adults over 20 years old use some type of dietary supplement and approximately 52.7% of them take two or more a day. One of the conclusions made is that “contributions of nutrient intakes from dietary supplements may exceed intakes from foods”, which is a red flag in the nutrition world.

Nutricosmetics, on the other hand, are ingestible beauty products that have been developed to promote healthy skin, nails, and hair. Beauty-geared supplements like Hairfinity® and Nature’s Bounty: Hair, Skin & Nails, have become extremely popular in the past decade. Currently, 1.3 million people use Hairfinity®, and that number is growing.

Nevertheless, it is generally best to get vitamins and minerals naturally from foods, or when considering vitamin D, getting sun exposure that is within reason. Unless you are pregnant, over the age of 50, sick, or have been recommended to do otherwise by your physician, stick to getting your nutrients from healthy foods!

Check out the list below to start eating to improve the health of your hair, nails, skin, and bones.

Hair/Nails

  • Iron and Zinc: Red meats. You can also increase iron absorption with vitamin C rich foods.Salmon
  • Vitamin D: Fatty fish (tuna, salmon), cheese, egg yolk, and some sun!
  • Protein: Meats, fish, cheese, lentils, yogurt, nuts, and beans.
  • Omega-3 fats: Salmon, tuna, some nuts and seeds.
  • Biotin: Egg yolk.

Skin

  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamins C: Citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, kiwi, berries, and tomatoes.
  • Vitamin E: Olive oil, nuts, seeds, tofu, avocado, fish, and broccoli
  • Vitamin A: Carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and bell peppers.
  • Watermilk
  • Zinc (listed above)

Bones

  • Calcium & Vitamin D: milk, yogurt, cheese, and leafy greens.
  • Vitamin C (listed above)
  • Phosphorus: Pumpkin seeds, salmon, shellfish, lean beefs, tofu, and lentils.

Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Iron.” Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Antioxidants.” Trost, L. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, May 2006; vol 54: pp 824-844. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 25. National Research Council, Food and Nutrition Board. Recommended Dietary Allowances. 10th ed. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press; 1989:184-18 “The National Nutrition Conference.” Public Health Reports (1896-1970) 56.24 (1941): 1233-255. Web. Piccian, Mary Frances. Who Is Using Dietary Supplements and What Are They Using?(n.d.): n. pag. Web.