The skin and hair are reflections of a balanced and nutritious diet. Clear, moist and glowing skin is a sign of optimal nutrition. Hair that is flexible, shiny and vibrant also shows your inner health. Although nutrition is important in maintaining healthy skin and hair, some factors cannot be controlled. Skin becomes drier as you age, and genetics largely determines how much hair you keep. A good diet cannot reverse this natural aging process, but it can keep your skin and hair as healthy as possible.
The sebaceous glands secrete an oily substance that nourishes and moistens the skin and hair. The oil-producing capability of the sebaceous glands relies on an adequate supply of vitamin C. Get your vitamin C from bell peppers, collard greens, kale, strawberries, papaya, kiwi, broccoli, oranges and grapefruit.
The B vitamins such as biotin and pantothenic and folic acid are associated with healthy skin and hair. B vitamins are essential for red blood cell formation. Red blood cells provide a steady source of oxygen and nutrients to the hair and skin. The best sources of B vitamins are sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts, oatmeal, eggs, wheat germ, fresh tuna and salmon.
Vitamin E is important for maintaining healthy skin and hair. The best food sources of vitamin E are vegetable oils, almonds, pine nuts, wheat germ, avocados and sweet potatoes. In addition to consuming vitamin E-rich foods, you can make home treatments for dry skin and hair. In "Natural Beauty at Home," author Janice Cox says avocados contain skin-nourishing vitamin E and phytosterols, which are similar to your skin's own lipids. To hydrate dry hair, she suggests mashing avocado into a paste and applying it to clean, damp hair. For dry skin, mix a couple tablespoons of avocado with a tablespoon of mashed banana and egg yolk and use as a moisturizing mask.
Magnesium facilitates the release of energy from foods. It helps the body absorb nutrients needed to nourish dry skin and thinning hair. Adequate levels of the mineral magnesium are especially important for healthy hair growth. The best sources of magnesium include cocoa powder, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, cashew nuts, hazelnuts and soybeans.
A zinc deficiency can contribute to hair loss. The mineral is necessary for optimal blood and oxygen flow to the hair. Zinc also keeps skin healthy by protecting against free radicals that damage and dry skin. Zinc can be found in oysters, pumpkin seeds, pecan nuts, crab, Parmesan cheese, seaweed, liver and beef steak.