5 Foods to Eat for Healthier Hair and Nails

Skip the pricey serums and supplements and start snacking on some of these instead. 

We spend hours each week applying the proper creams, cleansers, and conditioners to stay radiant. But have you ever thought that working from the inside out may be equally effective?

“Our diets can play a huge role in the health of our hair, skin, and nails, for better or for worse,” says Colleen Christenen, RDN at Setton Farms. Here are her top five foods to include in your diet for healthier hair and nails—no $400 collagen cream required.

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Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are a powerhouse when it comes to Vitamin E: a quarter cup of their kernels provides over 80 percent of the recommended daily intake. Why is this important? Vitamin E is important for preventing hair loss—deficiencies can hinder normal cell growth, which can contribute to unwanted hair loss. According to Christenen, sunflower seeds are a great way to boost Vitamin E levels and give you the best chance at keeping your locks strong and thick.

Sunflower seeds are packed with antioxidants essential for healthy skin, too. Specifically, they may help protect the skin from free radical damage from the sun’s UV light. Vitamin E is also an anti-inflammatory agent, which means it may help decrease swelling and puffiness.

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Red Peppers

Oranges get a lot of credit for being a Vitamin C powerhouse, but a serving of red peppers actually provides more Vitamin C than an orange. Vitamin C is important for collagen synthesis, which is a protein abundant in the skin that is vital for hair, skin, and nail health. Like Vitamin E, Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that may prevent against harmful UV light exposure—plus it can help decrease risk of dry skin. Some studies have also shown that hair loss may be associated with inadequate Vitamin C intake. Foods like red peppers that are packed with Vitamin C help our bodies to absorb iron, which may help to stave off hair loss.

RELATED: The 8 Best Foods to Eat for Healthy-Looking Skin

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Pistachios contain a high amount of monounsaturated fats, a beneficial type of fat that can provide many health benefits. One benefit of consuming monounsaturated fats is improved skin aging. One study showed that women who consumed a diet higher in monounsaturated fats had improvements in skin elasticity, as opposed to those who did not consume a diet rich in monounsaturated fats.

Healthy fats, such as those found in pistachios, have also been shown to reduce hair loss and increase hair density and hair diameter.

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Our hair and nails are also highly impacted by our hydration status. Nails that are dry and brittle can be more prone to fungal infections, and hydration is especially important for those who use hair dryers or heat styling tools on their hair, as this can cause the hair to become dry and damaged. Because cucumbers are 96 percent water, they’re a smart way to hydrate your body beyond drinking water itself.

Cukes are also a great food for radiant skin— higher intakes of water have been shown to have a positive impact on skin physiology than lower intakes, allowing your skin cells to function optimally. Lack of hydration can also lead to common skin problems such as dry, tight, or flaky skin, and can also lead to becoming more prone to wrinkling.

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Lutein is a phytonutrient found in eggs that can greatly benefit your skin, hair, and nails. The lutein found in eggs is highly bioavailable, meaning readily available for use by the body. Lutein is prominent in the skin and is associated with radiant skin and hair coloring.

RELATED: 7 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Eat Every Day for Long-Term Health and Happiness

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