Senior Health The Best Foods for Healthy Nails and Hair 8/24/2020 | By Seniors Guide Staff Many people don’t realize that our soft, shiny and pliable hair is made of the same substance as our fingernails – protein. When we receive the appropriate amount of vitamins, minerals, and proteins through our daily diet, it shows up in how healthy our bodies are – and that is reflected in smooth and silky hair, along with strong and blemish-free nails. 1. Poultry (Chicken and Turkey) Chicken and turkey are rich in protein. Our hair and nails need protein for healthy growth. Poultry dishes can be prepared a variety of ways, of course, and some methods of preparation are healthier than others. (Fried chicken, for example – delicious as it may be – typically is also chock-full of trans fats.) Milk and eggs are also an excellent source of protein, as are lima beans, sweet corn, and broccoli. Nuts are a good source – in particular walnuts, but it’s always best to choose unsalted rather than salted nuts. 2. Beef and Leafy Greens Red meat (i.e., beef, rather than white meat – poultry or pork) is rich in iron, as are dark leafy greens like spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, and collard greens. Note that iceberg lettuce has iron, too, but it’s a light leafy green – full of water, and thus doesn’t have as much iron as dark leafy greens. Iron promotes healthy hair and nails because it helps facilitate blood flow – and nutrients are carried throughout our body via our circulatory system. A deficiency of iron impacts our health in a variety of ways – including causing hair loss. 3. Fish … and Bread (Maybe) Fish – in particular mackerel, salmon, and tuna – are rich in in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 not only helps promote hair growth due to its anti-inflammatory properties, but it also helps keep the scalp healthy, thus preventing dandruff. Omega-3 also helps strengthen our fingernails and toenails, preventing splitting and cracking. Bread that is enriched – i.e. fortified with vitamins and minerals – is another excellent source of iron. However, for those individuals battling weight issues, bread is usually avoided since it is high in carbohydrates. Those with a gluten intolerance will also want to avoid bread. 4. Pork and Shellfish A trace mineral called zinc, and another called selenium, are important for a healthy scalp. These are called “trace” minerals because, although they are essential, we just need a very little bit of them each day for optimum health. Foods already mentioned above have traces of zinc and selenium, as do pork and shellfish. By eating a wide variety of foods, we will obtain our vitamins, minerals, proteins and other necessary naturally, without having to resort to supplements – the efficacy of which is not really proven. A good diet promotes overall general health – and that will be reflected in beautiful, strong hair and strong nails. Find more tips for senior health on our blog page! Read More Seniors Guide Staff Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible. Related Resources The Psychology of Food Choices A salad or a cheeseburger? A fruit bowl or chocolate cake? A milkshake or a diet soda? There are many ... [Read More] 8/24/2020 | By Densie Webb Ph.D. RD Former Smoker? Screen For Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm DEAR MAYO CLINIC: My 70-year-old father-in-law smoked for more than 30 years. I read that men who used to smoke ... [Read More] 8/24/2020 | By Young Erben, M.D.