Stop popping pills! The hair, skin and nails vitamins you need to avoid

Foods to give you vitamins naturally
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Stop popping pills! The hair, skin and nails vitamins you need to avoid
Foods that contain high levels of "good" fats like nuts and certain types of fish can actually reduce wrinkles. The omega-3 fatty acids founds in these ingredients hydrate skin and lessen the appearance of fine lines.

Preliminary research shows that altering your diet can actually decrease your risk of skin cancer. Try a
Mediterranean-inspired meal plan of leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, olive oil, fatty fish and red wine to boost antioxidants that battle cancer-causing cells in the body.

As an added bonus, leafy green vegetables like spinach, beet greens and collards have also been shown to prevent varicose veins.

Dark berries like strawberries, blueberries and blackberries all have impressive levels of antioxidants, making them an ideal beauty food.
Good old water might be the cheapest beauty product on the market. Not only does H20 flush out toxins that can lead to acne, staying hydrated can also reduce stress and improve higher levels of thinking.
Dark circles can be caused by everything from sinus allergies to a lack of sleep, but more often than not, the zombie look is a symptom of vitamin K deficiency. Reduce the look by stocking up on the hottest veggie around: kale. 

Can't stand the taste? Try one of these green smoothie recipesto get your daily dose.
The health of your hair is a reflection of what you put in your body. Your strands, scalp, and hair follicles thrive on protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and biotin, while vitamins E, A, C and B and minerals like zinc and iron keep strands strong and abundant. To this end, snack on a balanced diet of salmon, oysters, walnuts, sweet potatoes, eggs, spinach, lentils, Greek yogurt, blueberries, and poultry, and other yummy nutrient-rich foods.
Spring has sprung, which means summer-that sun-filled time of year when we bare our skin, show off our pedicures and think of inventive new updos for our hair-is just around the corner. Gone are the hats, gloves and trousers of March, and we're starting to feel that we may not be ready for the exposure. Given the circumstances, it's tempting to cut out the culinary middleman and reach for those hair, skin and nails vitamins.

However, if you're popping pills to support the health of your integumentary system, you may be doing it wrong. Let's talk prenatal vitamins, for starters. You've probably heard the rumors that taking these supplements, even when you're not pregnant or trying to conceive, can do wonders for your mane, make your skin glow and strengthen your nails. Perhaps, thinking back to how great your pregnancy hair looked, you've invested in a bottle. However, before you buy into this beauty myth, beware what the experts have to say on the matter.

"You may be tempted to take prenatal vitamins because of unproven claims that they promote thicker hair and stronger nails," said Mayo Clinic nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky. "While prenatal vitamins are generally safe for healthy adults, they may not be suitable if you're not pregnant and not planning to become pregnant." If you have a vitamin B-12 deficiency, however, taking prenatal vitamins could result in delayed diagnosis-and treatment-of your condition due to the pills' high folate content. (Folic acid masks the signs of B-12 deficiency.)

Furthermore, according to the Mayo Clinic, "During pregnancy, the recommended intake of iron is 27 milligrams (mg) a day. Women between the ages of 19 and 50 who aren't pregnant need only 18 mg a day, and women age 51 and older and all adult men need only 8 mg a day." The average prenatal vitamin contains far more iron than the average woman needs. A surplus of iron can be toxic to the body, causing constipation, nausea, vomiting, and in extreme cases, death.

What about biotin, you ask? As you've strolled the aisles of GNC you've probably seen bottles of the stuff claiming to promote "healthy hair and strong nails." These purported benefits are based on the belief that biotin improves keratin's (the basic protein that comprises hair, skin and nails) infrastructure. However, according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Susan Stuart, "These B complex vitamins (also known as vitamin H) are important in metabolism, helping your body to process energy and transporting carbon dioxide from your body's cells." Biotin's beauty benefits, on the other hand, have yet to be proven.

To top it off, biotin occurs naturally in many foods. Our bodies automatically recycle the biotin we've already processed. Actual biotin deficiency is very, very rare. Biotin overdose (which is also rather uncommon) can result in "slower release of insulin, skin rashes, lower vitamin C and B6 levels and high blood sugar levels," according to Stuart. Long story short, the biotin you intake naturally (if you follow a healthy diet) is more than sufficient, so don't waste your hard-earned cash on urban beauty legends.

The smartest way to nourish your hair, skin and nails is to follow a diet full of vitamins E, A, C and B, minerals like zinc and iron, and more. Click through the slideshow above for tips on getting your daily dose of the vitamins that'll keep your hair, skin and nails strong and lustrous.

More from Elizabeth Street:

Is This the Most Outrageous Anti-Aging "Cure" Ever?
This Body Part Doesn't Lie About Age
The Dangerous Truth About Keratin Hair Treatments & Their Side Effects
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