True beauty comes from within

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Micronutrients for skin, hair, and nail health

True beauty comes from within

The importance of micronutrients for skin, hair, and nail health

Looking radiant and healthy is associated to a great extent with the individual lifestyle. Nutrition is one of many factors required for the maintenance of overall skin, hair, and nail health.

Consumers increasingly recognize how important nutrition is for healthy skin, hair, and nails. They understand that a healthy, balanced diet impacts their appearance. Notably, there is a growing interest in holistic beauty, supported by topical and oral beauty products.

According to Innova Market Insights, the beauty-from-within category is experiencing significant growth worldwide, with Asia representing 35% of launches in 2021, ahead of Europe (24%) and North America (14.5%).

Micronutrients nourish the skin, hair, and nails

The importance of micronutrients for healthy appearance has been highlighted in cell culture, animal, and clinical studies.

Skin is the first line of defence for protecting our bodies from external hazards, including UV radiation, mechanical/chemical stress, and bacterial infection. How important micronutrients are for skin health is shown by the well-known skin disease scurvy. It is caused by vitamin C deficiency and is characterized by skin fragility and impaired cutaneous wound healing.


In the following, the role of micronutrients in skin health is explained.

MicronutrientRole in skin health
Vitamin A
  • Plays an important role in regulating the proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis of skin cells
  • Prevents UV irradiation-mediated skin damage
Vitamin C
  • Promotes the formation of the epidermal barrier and collagen in the dermis
  • Helps to maintain the integrity of the skin barrier and prevents water loss from the skin
  • Suppresses UV irradiation-triggered production of free radicals, protecting cells from oxidative stress
  • Promotes cutaneous wound healing
  • Reduced likelihood of age-related skin dryness
Vitamin D
  • Inhibits keratinocyte proliferation
  • Promotes keratinocyte differentiation
  • Regulates keratinocyte apoptosis
  • Helps to maintain the integrity of the skin barrier
  • Regulates antimicrobial peptide synthesis in the skin
  • Mediates immunosuppressive action in the skin
Vitamin E
  • The combination of vitamin C and vitamin E reduces oxidative damage to the skin
Vitamin B2
  • Acts as a co-factor and helps to maintain the integrity of mucous membranes and the skin
Vitamin B3
  • Has a stimulating effect on ceramide synthesis
  • Speeds up the differentiation of keratinocytes
  • Raises intracellular NADP levels
  • Cofactor of several enzymes that are important for carboxylation and epidermal differentiation
  • Necessary for zinc homeostasis in the skin
  • Supports wound healing
  • Protects from photodamage
  • Exhibits antimicrobial activity
  • Has anti-inflammatory properties
  • Serves as modulator of cellular functions in keratinocytes
  • Plays a role in skin barrier homeostasis
  • Contributes to normal skin pigmentation
  • Stimulates the maturation of collagen
  • Protects the skin from UV irradiation-induced oxidative stress

Antioxidant micronutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and selenium play an important role in protecting the skin from reactive oxygen species (ROS). Oxidative stress accelerates skin ageing and is associated with multiple skin diseases. For example, formation of ROS occurs when skin is exposed to UV radiation, which leads to premature skin ageing or photoageing.

Further ingredients with antioxidative properties have the potential to protect the skin from oxidative stress. Conenzyme Q10 protects against lipid peroxidation and is able to reduce the oxidized form of vitamin E. In addition, various plant pigments like β-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene have been demonstrated to protect against oxidative stress-induced skin damage and photoageing.

Hair follicle cells have a high replacement rate and energetic metabolism. Hence, they need a sufficient supply of nutrients and energy. A deficiency of macro- and micronutrients, such as minerals, vitamins, essential fatty acids, and proteins, can lead to hair problems like hair loss. Micronutrient deficiencies apply to zinc, iron, vitamin B2 and folic acid.
Studies have shown that zinc may improve the quality, density, and growth rate of hair. Vitamin B6 improves hair condition and reduces hair loss. Pantothenic acid improves the strength and flexibility of hair.

Beutiful healthy woman with full brunette hair

Nails are made from keratin, a structure protein whose synthesis requires zinc and selenium among other factors. An adequate supply of zinc and selenium have been shown to contribute to nail health. Scientific data on the role of further micronutrients and active ingredients on nail health is limited. High-dose biotin supplementation is often recommended to abate brittle nails. However, its efficacy is not yet supported by sufficient scientific evidence.

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