4

votes

What has helped to strengthen hair, skin and nails?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 17, 2011 at 8:52 PM

I was hoping for improvement in helping my very fine, thinning hair, skin which abrades easily and heals very slowly & with scarring and strengthening nails which chip and flake before they ever reach beyond the tips of my fingers.

I'm eating Paleo w/ full fat homemade yogurt and cheese. I also eat about three servings a fruit daily and between 1/2-1 lbs of sweet potatoes weekly. I tend to eat salmon, sardines, shrimp and beef offal (not grass fed), along with chicken eggs, occasionally I eat beef and chicken. Whey from the yogurt making goes into soups and stews, and I use marrow bones to make soup base. No gluten and no added sugar, except a little dark chocolate -1-2 oz per week if that. Coffee and herbal iced tea. Vegetables, all sorts, depending what's available at the weekly open air market (not the organic farmers' markets).

I supplement with B12, B6/Mag Taurinate, Vit D 6K IU daily, biotin, chromium and zinc.

I'm the severely chronically insomniac, so I also take melatonin. I walk - a lot, and I hand carry all of my groceries/shopping about two miles 3-4x/week. I also do yoga and follow a basic set of resistance exercises to build hip and abdomen strength, mobility and flexibility.

I don't use nail, hair and skin products, except for a mild soap, mild shampoo and dilute vinegar as a skin and hair rinse.

My energy level has deteriorated, and for the past few weeks, I haven't even gone out beyond keeping a few appointments.

Labs of note: Globulin is chronically low around 2.0 (nl starting at 2.6), with total protein around 6 - 6.5. However, the latest labs showed an A/G ratio of 2.8, and I'm heading in the wrong direction there. I also had a low IgM, with low normal IgA and IgG values done late last summer. SPEP was nl. My RBC's were just under the lower limit last month, and my WBC's are always low normal with absolute monos being deficient and neuts also being low normal. It's as if my immune system just doesn't give a rat's patoot about mounting any sort of immune response. (grin) Vit D at the end of last summer was 69. B12 was 850ish.

I am mostly in ketosis (by urinalysis). And in January I did pre and post prandial BG monitoring for five days, and I was in perfect (for me) control staying between 73 and 90. However, my BP has been very low, at one point not rising above 70s/40s, although I wasn't symptomatic (I was serving as a healthy control in a kidney function study, and research staff were doing all of this fab monitoring).

I think the prolonged sleep deprivation is doing me in, but I don't know what else to try. (My coffee is decaf, limited amount, and always in the early AM). I have an appt with an ENT doc to evaluate for a mechanical airway issue, but that's just swatting at flies - I don't know if I have that sort of issue or not.

I'm using skin, nails and hair condition as proxies for a healthy immune response, which is why I'm turning to you for your sage wisdom. Thanks-

A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

(4183)

on March 07, 2011
at 06:48 PM

Yep, changed nothing else that I can tell. I was on and off the diet over the last three months too.

Medium avatar

(3024)

on March 06, 2011
at 03:21 PM

Did you see a change that you can clearly attribute to adding Brazil nuts to your diet?

Eea4c0f072bb5caa74c1fbe6dfab5f46

(942)

on March 06, 2011
at 01:44 PM

B vitamins are synergistic -- meaning you have to replenish all of them everyday in order for them to work. They only work in community. High levels of pure vitamin B complex will help with hair, skin, nails (particularly B5). Coconut is considered good "hair food" too for some reason. To harden soft nails soak them in warm olive oil for about 20 minutes on alternate days.

Cea5412c1c15655e5282ba379c4bea2d

(10)

on March 03, 2011
at 05:11 PM

Get out of ketosis and stay out until you are completely healthy and then maybe look at some IF. Eat at least 300-400 carb calories a day using safe starches. Start with white rice. Perfecthealthdiet.com

F1cd291cf9ba1ebd9a9db21d3dd09735

(436)

on February 18, 2011
at 04:43 PM

I appreciate the input, but I'd appreciate links to references. I don't think that eliminating dairy has much to do with my question, and other suggestions seem to be shotgunning - doing things without any real evidence to support doing them. Back to PubMed for me. Thanks all.

Bcc4479de4f16939076e0a00e2db1261

(94)

on February 18, 2011
at 02:16 AM

Flavio - I thought you can only get b12 from grass-fed / pastured animals....which aren't readily available by my house.

1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 17, 2011
at 10:59 PM

I mix a heaping teaspoonful into a small amount of water three times per day and drink it down. I then chase it with a little more water. Other people put it into smoothies or juice, etc. Its a bit gritty and it tastes like dust. Btw, make sure you get *food grade* diatomaceous earth...*not* the kind for pools or lawns.

D05e94d3fa7fbf32eb56445ad932f654

(773)

on February 17, 2011
at 10:31 PM

Hi Helen, how is diatomaceous earth eaten? I've never thought to try it. Maybe I will...

F910318b9aa27b91bcf7881f39b9eabe

(1164)

on February 17, 2011
at 10:26 PM

Oh OK, gotcha :)

F1cd291cf9ba1ebd9a9db21d3dd09735

(436)

on February 17, 2011
at 10:23 PM

I've been down all the roads for insomnia - failed them all, but still keep impeccable sleep hygiene practices. I think your point about insulin is something to investigate. I could easily cut back to my AM yogurt with coconut and berries and skip the cheese and fruit, and if that wasn't effective, to cut the breakfast carbs, as well. Thanks-

F1cd291cf9ba1ebd9a9db21d3dd09735

(436)

on February 17, 2011
at 10:10 PM

B12 was deficient 2 years ago after I was put on a protom pump inhibitor to cover NSAID use. I've been taking 1000mcgs since, in case it's due to malabsorbion. B6 is a part of the magnesium supplement. Accdng to my Nutrition Data diary, I'm not deficient in any vit or mineral. I'm using h,s&n as proxies for immune function, Flavio. In other words, I can't directly observe my globulin and IgM function, but the condition of those, skin being the largest organ and wound healing being a marker for immune function, I'm hoping will serve as indicators or dash warning lights, if you will.

F1cd291cf9ba1ebd9a9db21d3dd09735

(436)

on February 17, 2011
at 10:00 PM

Did so and I consistently eat over 1gm/kg/day. I vary proteins, too. My diet hasn't changed significantly for one year - anniversary coming up March 1.

F910318b9aa27b91bcf7881f39b9eabe

(1164)

on February 17, 2011
at 09:47 PM

And also, hair, skin and nails appear to be the least of your problems... you should focus on the all the other problems you appear to have, like and sleep and so on

F910318b9aa27b91bcf7881f39b9eabe

(1164)

on February 17, 2011
at 09:26 PM

Why do you supplement with B12 and B6? Those are easily obtained from foods when you follow a Paleo lifestyle...

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19 Answers

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5
Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

on March 06, 2011
at 10:50 AM

Sleep is a top tier issue. Without it, it'll be impossible to fix the rest. How much magnesium are you getting? What form? Are you taking it in divided doses?

Why chronic ketosis? While we seem well adapted to tolerate and thrive in a state of ketosis, Jaminet, Harris and others make a good case for it not being optimal - especially for someone struggling with major health issues.

It seems reasonable in your case to do a couple of IF's a week but to otherwise provide your body with enough glucose so that it doesn't have the extra stress of gluconeogenesis when it is already, clearly, struggling.

How much total calcium are you getting per day from the dairy? How much total zinc daily? I know the paleo/primal community in general isn't big on supplements and micromanaging micronutrients but in some cases it seems reasonable. This would be one of them. :)

ETA: When I think of skin issues, I think vitamin A, zinc, protein and EFA balance. Are you getting any sources of preformed A in your diet - ie retinol? You mentioned eating beef offal so I assume you're getting A from liver if liver is included in the offal you're eating.

4
60199d3a580a4e17969059609e48e678

on March 06, 2011
at 11:44 PM

strong hair = protein rich hair! use an egg mixture 3 times weekly to keep your hair strong and shiny, and then use a coconut oil "hair mask" to keep it supple, smooth and also enrich it with strengthening fatty acids. This is what I do. Rosemary oil mixed in with the coconut oil can prevent dandruff and also gives it a clean scent.

skin- use coconut oil as you would lotion, a thin layer is all you need. I use it before bed and then the next morning i take a warm shower and wash with an oil based soap like castile soap. baking soda is a good exfoliator but so do gently, as it has a tendency to cause redness if rubbed too hard into skin. also if you have acne, a honey mask works very well to heal the wounds faster and decrease inflammation. leave honey on blemishes for 10 mins and rinse with warm water.

nails- coconut oil and olive oil. rub on hands and nails, working the oil into the cuticles.

I use all these techniques with great results, my family always compliments me on how young and healthy my skin looks and always ask me what I do to keep it so pretty. these are my secrets!

3
64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on February 17, 2011
at 10:00 PM

I think the sleep is one big issue to tackle. You should try (if you havn't already) dimming the lights and avoiding tv and internet after the sun goes down (lots of bright flashing lights make your body think the sun is still out). Also I'd try avoiding any dairy and fruit after 3pm.

Insulin sensitivity appears to be linked to hair loss. Im a fan of homemade yogurt and cheese but even if its raw and full fat it will still have a very high insulin index, which means it will spike your insulin. Also, 3 servings of fruit on top of that means you could have some insulin issues going on. I see your glucose is good but maybe try cutting back on dairy for a month?

hope this is helpful

F1cd291cf9ba1ebd9a9db21d3dd09735

(436)

on February 17, 2011
at 10:23 PM

I've been down all the roads for insomnia - failed them all, but still keep impeccable sleep hygiene practices. I think your point about insulin is something to investigate. I could easily cut back to my AM yogurt with coconut and berries and skip the cheese and fruit, and if that wasn't effective, to cut the breakfast carbs, as well. Thanks-

2
Ba99996acf302b5a9d8f88f1022bbeaf

(20)

on February 17, 2011
at 09:21 PM

I about 50% sure you are NOT eating enough protein. Track your Macro nutrients for the next 4 days and make sure your protein is at least over 100 grams per day minium.

F1cd291cf9ba1ebd9a9db21d3dd09735

(436)

on February 17, 2011
at 10:00 PM

Did so and I consistently eat over 1gm/kg/day. I vary proteins, too. My diet hasn't changed significantly for one year - anniversary coming up March 1.

1
0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on May 18, 2013
at 03:29 AM

I'm surprised to see no mention of iron.

Iron deficiency can definitely cause thinning hair, brittle nails, and low RBC count, especially for those of us with intestinal damage from gluten. When we cut out cereal grains and other fortified iron sources, we have to make sure we are eating enough red meat.

1
Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

on June 03, 2011
at 05:22 PM

I agree with others who have said that sleep issues will prevent you from healing. Have you had your cortisol levels checked? If melatonin isn't helping, that is where I would recommend going next. External fixes will only be band-aids if you are not getting adequate sleep. I would seek out the help of a naturopath, or other healing professional who can check your cortisol levels, and help you figure out the root cause of the insomnia, and have creative options to get you sleeping regularly!

1
0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on March 06, 2011
at 10:08 PM

For hair: Shampoo LESS, once a week, maybe less. Rinse with COLD water. Cold water has improved the look and strength of my hair this past year. And cold water if used long enough will promaote weight loss/control and I like how it mentally makes me a warrior. I mean if you can't take some cold water on the body, what change do you have when shit hits the fan in life.

1
Eea4c0f072bb5caa74c1fbe6dfab5f46

(942)

on March 06, 2011
at 03:42 PM

B vitamins are synergistic -- meaning they only work "in community" with each other, and as they are water-soluable, you have to replenish all of them everyday in order for them to work.

High doses of a pure vitamin B complex will help with hair, skin, nails (particularly B5). Coconut is considered good "hair food" too for some reason. To harden soft nails soak them in warm olive oil for about 20 minutes on alternate days.

1
04293f705870e1837b8670d3c1cd5f67

on February 18, 2011
at 01:03 AM

The book "Lights Out, Sleep, Sugar and Survival," by TS Wiley, does a great job in explaining how important sleep is for all of our bodies functions. She also talks about melatonin.

I agree with the a previous poster about no TV, Internet, and lights before sleep. It's not natural and doesn't help the body shut down. There is a lot going on in our body when we sleep and if we don't get it, it will catch up with body functions starting to fail.

I have sleep problems and I am trying everything I can. I just got black out shades for my bedroom and uploaded flux.com on my computer.

1
D64a0ae059bb55a0881236bb60f81f7e

(204)

on February 17, 2011
at 09:30 PM

Trace minerals: iodine, boron, silicon. Calcium, protein, HCL, probiotics, and enzymes to absorb nutrients in some people, B-complex from friendly bacteria in the gut.

Off the top of my head.

1
1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 17, 2011
at 09:11 PM

Iodine helped my skin, hair and nails and especially my energy levels immensely. Silica is an over-looked mineral that gives strong, flexible nails and strong hair. I use food-grade diatomaceous earth as my source of silica. Also, based on your food list, I wonder if you are not getting enough protein.

D05e94d3fa7fbf32eb56445ad932f654

(773)

on February 17, 2011
at 10:31 PM

Hi Helen, how is diatomaceous earth eaten? I've never thought to try it. Maybe I will...

1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on February 17, 2011
at 10:59 PM

I mix a heaping teaspoonful into a small amount of water three times per day and drink it down. I then chase it with a little more water. Other people put it into smoothies or juice, etc. Its a bit gritty and it tastes like dust. Btw, make sure you get *food grade* diatomaceous earth...*not* the kind for pools or lawns.

0
895fb97920f08006e423da249a83132f

on September 07, 2013
at 04:40 PM

Horsetail- totally paleo plant- is a great source of silica and other nutrients good for nails and hair. This site, herbaliz.com, makes simple hair oil/conditioner and a nail oil, that use horsetail and other plants. She also does an apple cider vinegar hair rinse with herbs--I use it instead of shampoo though.

0
C364e0af5857b321f99486649bcc5882

on May 17, 2013
at 08:44 PM

If you have insomnia and you have brittle hair/nails, that sounds a lot like you should take iodine. I had a rather severe deficiency that I'm now treating and feeling much better. That deficiency included things like insomnia, brittle hair/nails, dry skin & eyes, no dreams when sleeping, sinus problems, and a uterine cyst. These and many more can be symptoms of iodine deficiency.

0
5457372e78a910c00cd1dd579ecbdce3

(1230)

on August 23, 2011
at 05:50 PM

I read recently that eating raw egg whites can cause many of these symptoms, are you fully cooking your eggs before eating them? Uncooked whites contain avidin if you want to look that up.

0
669790861549f3c6d54d88a65296ed19

(452)

on August 23, 2011
at 05:34 PM

Nutritional Yeast

0
Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on June 03, 2011
at 07:29 PM

Bill asked above and I want to underscore the question: Have you checked your thyroid? Insomnia, hair falling out, nails - I would definitely look into it!

My mom had a hyperactive thyroid and had similar symptoms - she got an injection of an Iodine isotope which fixed it for her (not recommending that - just fyi), and I'm dealing with my own thyroid issues (a cyst - which probably is related to my chronic but minor anemia). I hope if I fix mine all my hair will grow back, but I'm not holding my breath on that one :-)

Do you have family members with thyroid issues? It often has a family connection - I just found out my dad's mom also had a goiter, so I may be getting it from both sides.

If you get a blood test, I strongly suggest you ask for a full thyroid panel - not just TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) but T3 and T4 as well, at a minimum. I recommend this even if you have to pay for it out of pocket..

There are some excellent sites and forums devoted to thyroid issues (most doctors aren't very helpful with thyroid stuff, and folks have to self-educate themselves), and every site will ask about the levels of T3/T4 at a minimum. They also ask about cortisol (for adrenal strength) and iron levels (specifically ferritin - another one that's not included on the standard tests).

It may NOT be thyroid, but some of your symptoms are raising the ol' red flag for me!

I'm still in the early days of my own self diagnosis (I want to avoid the surgery my endocrinologist is suggesting), but I'm happy to share what I know so far.

0
A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

on March 06, 2011
at 11:59 AM

Selenium, I eat three brazil nuts a day for selenium and my nails are so strong I have trouble cutting them. Adequate protein of course too.

Medium avatar

(3024)

on March 06, 2011
at 03:21 PM

Did you see a change that you can clearly attribute to adding Brazil nuts to your diet?

A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

(4183)

on March 07, 2011
at 06:48 PM

Yep, changed nothing else that I can tell. I was on and off the diet over the last three months too.

0
Ef4c5b09fdccf73be575d3a0c267fdd9

(2539)

on February 17, 2011
at 11:51 PM

So you sleep at all? Like does the melatonin help you? I think the sleep is the big issue and the skin/hair/nails is simply a response to that.

Also.. keep the vinegar away from your skin. It is an acid and it is pretty corrosive no matter what the proponents say.

You also need to eat more Beef than shrimp and such. Offal is good too. DEFINITELY drop that dairy especially the cheese and especially if you suspect airway issues.

Have you had your coritsol checked? Thyroid, hormones, etc?

Look into Fermented Cod Liver Oil by Green Pastures, it definitely helps my skin.

Why is your immune function so poor besides your insomnia?

I think you are looking at the wrong issues here...

-1
732edb1e6af94aca0072504366cbc27f

(-2)

on August 23, 2011
at 03:36 PM

Searching for a way grow my hair out faster I found a great vitamin supplement called AWESOME GREEN that is great for strengthening hair and nails! www.feelgreathealth.comlink text

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