There’s plenty that can be done in life to improve your appearance. Whether it’s regular grooming, workouts or even a new haircut, men typically have a good grasp of many of the things that help move the needle. Most men are also aware that eating healthily is an important factor but are typically not so savvy when it comes to recalling the specific purpose that each vitamin and mineral plays.
A recent survey found that nearly 50% of men are not aware of which vitamins and minerals are essential for maintaining their appearance.1
Today, we take a look at the most important foods for maintaining and improving your appearance. We will explore the scientific evidence behind how selected vitamins and minerals can help support your hair, skin, teeth and nails. We shall also establish in more detail which food sources are rich in these important vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin A, also known as retinol, is a fat soluble vitamin that can be stored in fatty tissue or the liver. It is obtained through the digestive breakdown of substances such as carotenoids which are responsible for the pigmentation of vegetables. Perhaps most renowned for its role in vision, vitamin A also plays an important part in maintaining the immune system, as well as promoting growth, reproduction and bone development.
When it comes to your appearance, scientific evidence suggests that vitamin A contributes to the healthy maintenance of your skin, helping you maintain a healthy scalp. Studies have shown that a sufficient intake of vitamin A can reduce the risk of developing acne by up to 30%.2
There is also some evidence to suggest that vitamin A can increase the rate at which your hair grows and repair damaged hair.
Common sources of vitamin A includes carrots, leafy greens, carrots, fatty fish and eggs.
There are three key B vitamins for your appearance: vitamin B2, vitamin B3 and vitamin B7. All these complex b vitamins are soluble in water meaning that they need to be replenished regularly - ideally daily - as the body is unable to store them and excrete unused amounts as urine. What’s more, B vitamins usually play a key part in the body’s metabolism, breaking down foods such as protein, carbohydrates and fat into energy.
As well as playing an important role in the body’s metabolism, vitamin B2 or riboflavin, plays a pivotal part in removing free radicals which can damage cells and lead to chronic diseases such as cancers. It also supports the breakdown of harmful chemicals such as homocysteine which is linked to heart disease. Riboflavin also helps the body maintain stores of other b vitamins and works as an activator for various vitamins including vitamin B6 and B9.
Riboflavin is a popular anecdote for migraines and headaches, and also has a track record in maintaining the mucous membranes in the digestive system as a well as a healthy liver. From an appearance perspective, riboflavin helps keep skin healthy as well as eyes, nerves and muscles.
Common sources of riboflavin include eggs, dairy products, green vegetables, mushrooms and meat.
Vitamin B3, also known as niacin is a complex b vitamin that is soluble in water and plays an important role in the body’s metabolism. It is also key in promoting blood circulation, removing harmful chemicals from the body and reducing cholesterol.
Studies have shown that niacin has the ability to improve the appearance of your scalp and hair, promoting visibly thicker hair. It also helps to enhance the moisture balance of your skin and protects it from the environment. It is also frequently incorporated in anti-ageing products.
Vitamin B3 is commonly found in meat, fish cereals, legumes and seeds.
Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is involved in a wide range of human metabolic processes convert food into energy. As a soluble b-vitamin, biotin dissolves in water and if unused is readily excreted by the body, making it important to have a regular intake.
Biotin has been proven to be a valuable vitamin for the maintenance of healthy hair and skin. As a co- enzyme it helps to create fatty acids in the body which are important in replacing dead cells quickly. Some studies have shown that biotin may improve hair health by ensuring that hair is thick and healthy - however more research is needed to establish its role in preventing hair loss.3
Convenient sources of biotin include eggs, nuts, spinach and liver.
Vitamin C and Collagen
Vitamin C, commonly referred to as absorbic acid, is a water soluble vitamin that if unused is washed out by your body as urine making it important to replenish regularly - ideally daily.
As an antioxidant, vitamin c helps to prevent damage to cells by free radicals which in turns protect against chronic disease such as cardiovascular illnesses and cancers. It also plays a key role in producing certain chemicals called neurotransmitters, in wound healing and formation of bones. Vitamin C is often taken to effectively treat short term illnesses such as colds.
Vitamin c plays a critical role in the synthesis of collagen, the most common protein in the body which plays an essential role in keeping your hair, skin, nails and teeth, gums as well as tendons and muscles strong and healthy. Without collagen, hairs and nails may become brittle and gums weak, increasing risk of teeth problems.
Collagen is the most abundant but essential protein in your body, being made up of the the same connective tissues which make up our teeth and bones. It is also what keep our gums strong, helping to bind our teeth together firmly.
Vitamin C is usually found in abundance in fruits and vegetables, while dietary sources of collagen include bone broth, gelatine, and collagen supplements.4
Vitamin D is unique in that it can be synthesised by your body when exposed to sunlight, but can also be obtained through dietary sources.5 It is soluble in fat meaning that it can be stored by your body and is not necessarily required on a daily basis.
Vitamin D’s key role is in supporting the body to absorb calcium which is crucial for forming and maintaining strong bones and teeth. It also helps to maintain levels of calcium and phosphorus and supports the immune system.
Without Vitamin D, your teeth and gums would suffer from calcium deficiency leading to underdeveloped teeth, gum disease and tooth decay.
Besides sunlight, strong sources of vitamin D include fatty fish such as tuna and mackerel as well as liver, cheese and eggs.
Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin that is available in 8 different forms. As it is soluble in fat, it can be stored in fatty tissues or organs such as the liver and drawn upon when required.
Vitamin E plays an important role as an antioxidant, protecting the body from unstable molecules, also known as free radicals which are linked to chronic disease. What’s more, it serves an important function in keeping your immune system healthy, supporting your body’s use of vitamin K, and repairing damaged DNA. Some evidence also exists which suggests that vitamin E can help to reduce cholesterol and risk of heart disease.
The science suggests that vitamin E is important in maintaining a healthy scalp as its antioxidant properties reduce oxidative stress and free radicals which cause hair follicle cells to breakdown. It is very common in topical hair products which are aimed at promoting hair growth.
Popular sources of vitamin E include nuts such as hazelnuts and almonds as well as vegetable oils such as sunflower and soybean oils.
Calcium needs no introduction as a mineral that is the vital building block for the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. What’s more, it also plays a role in the building of hormones and enzymes and is important for maintaining healthy heartbeats, blood pressure, muscle function, blood clotting, nerve transmission, and hormonal secretion.6
When it comes to your appearance, calcium plays an important role in boosting oral health by supporting the maintenance of healthy set of teeth. It can be obtained through dairy sources such as milk, cheese and yoghurt as well as seafood and leafy greens.
Selenium is a mineral that is nutritionally essential to humans.7 It is an antioxidant that keeps your body safe from unstable molecules called free radicals which are linked to certain chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. It is also required for the proper functioning of your thyroid glands, pancreas and immune system.
Studies have linked selenium deficiency to unhealthy hair, skin and weakened nails. Foods rich in selenium include nuts, meat, seafood and grains.
Copper is a mineral that plays an important role in your body, helping it absorb and use iron as well as create red blood cells and collagen. It also plays a key role contributing to normal skin and hair pigmentation as it is used by enzymes to produce the pigment melanin. As a result, copper deficiencies are often linked to paler skin and premature greying.
Copper rich foods include liver, seafood such as lobster and oysters and even dark chocolate.
Zinc plays an important role in functioning of the prostrate gland and immune system as well as production of enzymes, hormones, DNA and RNA.
Zinc is considered important for hair, skin and nails as it contributes to their healthy maintenance. Deficiency may lead to thinning hair as well as discoloured and brittle nails.
Common sources of zinc include egg yolks, seafood and leafy vegetables.
Iodine is a naturally occurring mineral which is most commonly associated with its role as a key component in the thyroid hormone which controls energy metabolism (including metabolism of excess fat) and regulates body temperature. Iodine is essential in supporting growth and reproduction.
Iodine plays an important role in supporting healthy maintenance of your skin. It helps regulate skin moisture levels and supports the healing of scars, blemishes, and cuts. As a hormone regulator, some scientists believe it controls the hormones which are responsible for acne breakouts. However there is no direct evidence for this and excessive iodine intake may actually worsen acne in some cases.
Iodine rich food sources include seafood such as cod, tuna, shrimps and prawns. It can also be found in dairy products such as milk, yoghurts and cheese as well as cereals.
So there you have it, make sure your diet contains plenty of these vitamins and minerals and you should definitely be helping to make yourself look healthier and more attractive. It doesn’t end here though as it is important to exercise regularly and stay hydrated. Also don’t forget to groom regularly and smile!
Although it should be possible to get most of your vitamin and minerals from eating a healthy balanced diet unfortunately the reality of the modern world is that this may not always be possible. So if you want to invest in an extra insurance policy to ensure that you are consuming all the vitamins and minerals you should consult a healthcare professional to determine whether supplements are appropriate for you. If so, you may wish to consider our male multivitamins which have been formulated especially for men.
1. SurveyStat (2023) 'Men's Knowledge on Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Appearance', SurveyStat. Available at: https://www.surveystat.com/mens-knowledge-on-vitamins-minerals (Accessed: 10 May 2023).
2. Zhang, H. & Liao, W. (2015) 'The Role of Vitamin A in Acne Prevention: A Systematic Review', Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 72(3), pp. 104-110.
3. Almohanna, H.M., Ahmed, A.A., Tsatalis, J.P., Tosti, A. (2019) 'The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review', Dermatology and Therapy, 9(1), pp. 51-70. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509882/ (Accessed: 10 May 2023).
4. Healthline (n.d.) 6 Health Benefits of Collagen — and How to Get More in Your Diet. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/collagen-benefits (Accessed: 10 May 2023).
5. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements (n.d.) Vitamin D: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/ (Accessed: 10 May 2023).
6. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements (n.d.) Calcium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/ (Accessed: 10 May 2023).
7. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements (n.d.) Selenium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-HealthProfessional/ (Accessed: 10 May 2023).
This article was created for informational purposes only and does not necessarily represent the views of For Chaps Ltd. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.