10 Jul 2021

Nutrition for your skin, hair and nails in perimenopause and menopause

How does ageing and menopause affect our skin, hair and nails – and how can nutrition help keep these areas of our body healthy? Jenny Carson, from ethical vitamin company Viridian Nutrition explains.

It’s hard to understate the importance of the hormone oestrogen to our bodies.

And when it comes to our skin, hair and nails, oestrogen once again plays a role: in collagen production in skin and connective tissues and keeping our hair and nails healthy.

So, when oestrogen levels reduce in perimenopause and menopause it’s not surprising that there are repercussions for these areas of the body too. 

Watch the YouTube video here:

Nutrition for your hair, skin and nails in perimenopause and menopause

Join the Latte Lounge as we talk to Jenny Carson from Viridian Health about how ageing and menopause affect your skin, hair and nails? And how can nutrition help? Jenny Carson, from the ethical vitamin company Viridian Nutrition explains how nutrition can help with dry and itchy skin, wrinkles, adult acne and thinning hair.

RELATED: Support for Menopause in our Menopause Resources area.

In this article we will look at how nutrition can support the health of hair, skin, and nails when they are affected by our declining oestrogen levels.

Nutritional Support for Menopause Skin

Skin is one of the largest organs of the body and its role is to protect the organs from infection and injury.  As the body’s oestrogen production reduces, it can lead to dry and itchy skin, wrinkles and acne.

Eating a varied diet, adopting a healthy lifestyle and using paraben-free sun protection are the foundation for healthy skin.

Here’s how nutrition can help some of the specific symptoms we might experience:

When wrinkles appear

During the menopause, the skin can lose collagen and bring the onset of wrinkles. The body’s natural collagen production can be supported with vitamin C, zinc and the amino acids proline and glycine.  Hyaluronic acid and methyl sulphonyl methane (MSM) can support with skin hydration that plump out wrinkles and improve the appearance of skin.

Nutritional support for age spots

If your skin has received a lot of sun exposure and been damaged as a result, it can trigger age spots, melasma, and skin discolouration or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation in later years. Hyperpigmentation –  darkened areas of the skin - can also occur if the diet is low in antioxidant nutrients.    

Research has shown the positive impact of the antioxidant astaxanthin on skin. Astaxanthin is a pinkish pigment belonging to the carotenoid family which is naturally sourced from algae Haematococcus pluvialis. In the study, the use of astaxanthin supplementation by volunteers significantly reduced sun damage-related ageing, UV damage and reduced the sizes of the hyperpigmentation areas. Similarly, betacarotene, another potent antioxidant nutrient is considered beneficial for hyperpigmentation.

Keeping acne at bay

Probably the most discomforting effect can be the development of acne which can cause women to feel they are reliving their teenage acne years.  Research shows acne episodes can be reduced with supplemental zinc, vitamin C and beneficial bacteria.

Visible ageing

Free radicals (from eg air pollution, cigarette smoke and UV radiation) can create oxidative damage to skin cells to produce a visible appearance of ageing.

Many nutrients contain antioxidant properties that quell free radicals. To ensure a rich intake of  antioxidants, eat unprocessed foods, and choose from several different colours. Eg blueberries, grapes, beans, spinach. Foods high in vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, manganese, selenium, and copper will also be beneficial. Good sources include nuts, seeds, citrus fruits, and avocado.

Nutritional support for menopausal hair and nails

If our hair thins or becomes lacklustre as our oestrogen levels decrease, it can really affect our self-confidence.

RELATED: Top tips for thinning hair from a celebrity hairdresser

But it’s not just oestrogen that is contributing to the thinning of hair but also lowered thyroid function, stress levels and the potential for nutrient deficiencies.

Lower levels of keratin in the body can impact both the hair and nails. Keratin is a protein that forms the hair shaft and shield and it’s what gives nails and hair structure.  As our body produces less keratin during the menopause, the hair and nails become weaker and brittle, and they grow at a slower rate.

Foods which promote the body’s keratin production include eggs and onions, which contain amino acids. Such amino acids include lysine, cysteine which are helped by vitamin B6. 

Other nutrients that play a role in hair and nail health are iron, iodine and selenium to support thyroid function, plus silica which is found in horsetail herb and bamboo, besides zinc, vitamins B12 and C.

While there may be an extensive list of nutrients to consider, the good news is there are food supplements designed specifically to support hair, skin and nails, which can be simply introduced into your daily routine. When considering supplements, always choose quality versions with no binders or fillers. Your local health store will be able to offer advice on selecting a food supplement that is appropriate for your needs. Locate your nearest health store via www.findahealthstore.com

RELATED: Demystifying supplements in your 40s, 50s and beyond.

Top 5 lifestyle tips

  1. Allow 20 minutes of unprotected summer sun exposure for optimal vitamin D synthesis, after this time cover your skin or protect it with paraben-free sun protection.
  2. If you are going through perimenopause and menopause then boost your diet with rainbow-coloured selection vegetables, fruit, lean organic proteins, eggs, oily fish besides nuts and seeds, fermented foods and a few servings of organic fermented soy such as organic tofu, organic tempeh.
  3. Minimise processed food intake, especially those foods that have added processed fats and are charred.  These types of foods can cause changes to structural proteins which actually causes wrinkling of the skin. 
  4. Hydration is essential, not only to help with the removal of skin damaging toxins but also to hydrate and plump the skin.
  5. The effect of poor sleep on the skin can extenuate dark cycles around the eyes and remove the natural glow that is a result of a good night of sleep.  Air quality and temperature play an important role in the quality of sleep.  It’s best to sleep in a cooler temperature room if possible and an air filter can remove the air of particles, pollution, and dust.

References

  • Calleja-Agius J, Brincat M. The effect of menopause on the skin and other connective tissues. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2012 Apr;28(4):273-7. doi: 10.3109/09513590.2011.613970. Epub 2011 Oct 4. PMID: 21970508.
  • Choi W, Yin L, Smuda C, Batzer J, Hearing VJ, Kolbe L. Molecular and histological characterization of age spots. Exp Dermatol. 2017 Mar;26(3):242-248. doi: 10.1111/exd.13203. Epub 2017 Feb 9. PMID: 27621222; PMCID: PMC5342934.
  • Goluch-Koniuszy ZS. Nutrition of women with hair loss problem during the period of menopause. Prz Menopauzalny. 2016 Mar;15(1):56-61. doi: 10.5114/pm.2016.58776. Epub 2016 Mar 29. PMID: 27095961; PMCID: PMC4828511.
  • Tominaga K, Hongo N, Karato M, Yamashita E. (2012) Cosmetic benefits of astaxanthin on humans’ subjects. Acta Biochim Pol. 2012;59(1):43-7. Epub 2012 Mar 17. 
  • Tominaga, K., Hongo, N., Fujishita, M., Takahashi, Y., & Adachi, Y. (2017). Protective effects of astaxanthin on skin deterioration. Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, 61(1), 33–39. 

About the author: Jenny Carson, MRes, BSc (Hons) is a Senior Nutritionist at ethical vitamin company Viridian Nutrition. She has over 5 years’ experience supporting people with nutritional health advice. She recently completed a Master of Research(MRes) in Public Health, giving her a wide understanding of public health nutrition. Her other focus areas include ageing, dealing with stress, peri and post-menopause, detox and mood. For more information visit www.viridian-nutrition.com

This article is a paid partnership with Viridian Nutrition. It is for information purposes and does not refer to any individual products. The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.

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