Spring has always been the time of rebirth and re-awakening, following the dormancy of winter.
Once we head into late spring, we begin to eagerly anticipate the beginning of summer just around the corner. As children, we knew that once April or May came around, the end of the school year and summer vacation was not far behind.
Even as adults, we start getting ready for summer activities and fashion by paying more attention to our appearance by increasing our daily exercise and keeping to a balanced, low fat diet. Part of this often includes looking for ways to improve our hair, skin, and nails.
The message from this is that you should not be surprised to see an increase in the number of your patients asking about supplements to improve their hair, skin, and nails once April and May roll around.
In fact, late spring is the perfect time to get your patient started on their summer prep routine, including suggesting certain vitamins and supplements to improve their appearance and protect it from the sometimes harsh summer elements.
Biotin is one of the B vitamins and helps to prevent nails from becoming brittle and cracking. A 1990 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology examined the effect of biotin on a group of 32 women.1
Ten of the women did not have brittle nails, eight women had brittle nails and received regular 2.5 mg doses of biotin for anywhere from six to 15 months. The third group of 14 women had brittle nails but did not receive regular doses of biotin.
At the end of the study, splitting was reduced in both the second and third groups. Nail thickness improved by 25 percent in the first group and by 7 percent in the second group.1
Odds are extremely good that your patients are already taking vitamin C for its myriad of other health benefits. However, it also has certain anti-aging properties that make it great for helping your patients protect their skin from excessive skin exposure. In particular, sunscreens that contain vitamin C are the best combination for this purpose.
A 2005 article in the journal Dermatologic Surgery discusses some of the sun-protection benefits of topical vitamin C.2 Excessive sun exposure can dry out the skin, causing it to look leathery, as well as leave sun spots (areas of hyperpigmentation). In addition, it can also accelerate loss of collagen, which is a protein that the body naturally produces in order to fill itself out over the skeletal framework.
Although the body will lose collagen as it ages, excessive sun exposure will accelerate this process. Vitamin C works to counteract this process by keeping the skin moist.2 You should look for a sunscreen with a combination of a high sun protection factor (SPF), moisturizer, and topical vitamin C to recommend to your patients.
A wide-brimmed hat and wrap-around sunglasses will also help protect against excessive sun exposure.
As with vitamin C, odds are exceedingly good that your patients are already taking vitamin D for its many benefits. However, there is some research that appears to show that it can help with hair regeneration. A 2012 article in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine reported on research that a particular form of vitamin D increased the activity of specific cells in the body that regulate hair growth.3
Not only did they find that there was more new hair growth, but it was thicker and lasted longer. Although this study was conducted with lab mice, the researchers felt confident that it could indicate promising results in human studies.
With summer just around the corner, your patients want to look and feel their best. These vitamins and supplements can help them shine throughout these warmer months ahead.
- Colombo VE, Gerber F, Bronhofer M, Floersheim GL. Treatment of brittle fingernails and onychoschizia with biotin: Scanning electron microscopy. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 1990 Dec;23(6 Pt 1):1127-1132.
- Farris PK. Topical vitamin C: A useful agent for treating photoaging and other dermatologic conditions. Dermatologic Surgery 2005 Jul;31(7 Pt 2):814-817; discussion 818.
- Aoi N, Inoue K, Chikanishi T, et al. 1α,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 modulates the hair-inductive capacity of dermal papilla cells: Therapeutic potential for hair regeneration. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 2012 1(8):615-626.