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Nails, Hair & Skin
I have a question that I hope you can answer. I was told by an associate at work that African-Americans are prone to pimples when they eat chocolate. I was informed that eating chocolate and the development of pimples had no correlation and told the person as much. Their reply was that African-Americans have "different skin tones" and that considering that I was white I would not know of such things. Is this the babbling BS that I think it is or is there some shred of truth behind this? Sorry for wasting your time on this question but the situation has been bothering me for quite some time. Thank you.
Are there shampoos that really work that help grow hair more and stronger?
As to shampoo, I would suggest you ask your barber or hair dresser for suggestions as some shampoos are harsh. Hair is made of protein, but is susceptible to elevated testosterone levels. Male pattern baldness or male hair loss is more common in males with higher testosterone levels. If you have a concern about hair loss, I would suggest you see a dermatologist as there are good products to help re-grow hair.
I have vertical lines or "ridges" on all of my fingernails and have been told by various people that it is a calcium deficiency, an iron deficiency, a vitamin A deficiency, etc. I'd like to find out once and for all what kind of deficiency it is, if any. My nails rarely chip or break and they are strong and appear healthy except for the ridges. What can I do to get rid of them? Thank you.
I have a friend who has developed brittle, cracking nails. Could you tell me what vitamin she could be lacking? Thanks in advance.
Nails are made of protein so unless she is lacking protein in the foods she eats, she is probably not lacking any vitamin. Nails suffer from the physical trauma we put them through on a daily basis. Dish washing and cleaning products often dry out nails. She can buy a nail moisturizer or use any moisturizing lotion regularly to keep her nails softer.
Thank you very much for responding to my e-mail. My skin has the orange peel look to it. I'm hoping that my new eating and exercise program will help in reducing it's appearance. Thank you again for your response.
I would like information regarding cellulite and how to reduce the appearance of it. It has been difficult for me to obtain an honest non-biased option on the subject of cellulite. There are a million and one sites stating products that remove, reduce, get rid of cellulite. However I recently visited a doctor who informed me that once you have cellulite you have it forever. Yikes!
It seems to me that a regular exercise program or eating certain foods could help with this problem. I am 5 feet 1 inch and weigh 127 pounds. I have a medium / large frame for my height.
I have recently begun (trying to) exercising on a relatively regular basis. I use a 30 minute exercise tape 3 to 4 times per week. I have cut out many of the fatty type foods that I used to eat.
My question to you, is there specific exercises or foods that help in reducing cellulite? Thank you very much for your response and for a terrific informative website.
Does your skin look like an orange peel? Actually there is no such thing as cellulite, but the term seems to describe a dimpled appearance to the skin for most people. What you are looking at is hypertrophied fat cells or fat cells that are full of fat rather than partially full.
No cream, gadget or supplement will rid your body of dimpled skin. Only way to reduce dimpled look to skin is exercise to reduce body fat and increase underlying muscle. Aerobic exercise is great to reduce body fat and weight lifting increases muscle mass. If you aren't sure what exercises to do, contact an exercise physiologist or a certified trainer for guidance.
Or are you referring to cellulitis which is a reddened area to a specific area of skin? Cellulitis is an inflammation of the tissue just beneath the skin. If this is what you are referring to, I would recommend you see your doctor as blood clots also cause a reddened, hot area to the skin close to a blood clot.
This patient has a rare skin disease. The patient with this is only 16 years old. She has it only on her hands. It is red, splotchy-looking dry rash. Her parents requested that I try to find out if there is anything out there regarding certain foods to eat or restrict. They know toxic levels of Vitamin A in supplement form are the most effective treatment, but there are side effects to doing that, even short-term. I did a Med-line search and most titles are related to Vitamin A supplements. Thank you for any help you can send my way.
I was recently diagnosed with Diabetes II. My doctor diagnosed it and then sort of brushed me off when I had questions. I have one question for you. I have been itching LIKE CRAZY! Mostly my face. I have a rash around my mouth and now on my forehead and temples. It's driving me nuts. First it was just around the mouth (for the past 5 or 6 months). Could this be related to irregular blood sugar? Could it be a vitamin deficiency? Hopefully you can give me some insight on this! Thanks!
One of several possibilities comes to mind. Either you have an allergic reaction to a new product / drug you are using, you have a skin infection or granuloma anulare which looks like bumps that form a circle. Would suggest you go see a dermatologist as this is not normal nor should you have to put up with the itching.
With regards to a skin allergic reaction, have you started using new products on the area that now itches? Consider a new lotion for your skin, shampoo or crème rinse for your hair. Ask the dermatologist for her / his recommendations.
Or you have an infection on your skin, possibly because of your elevated blood glucose. Or are you stressed out about something? When the blood sugar of people with diabetes is out of normal range, they are much more susceptible to infections so deal with this quickly. If you are itching, you may break the skin and get an infection from normal bacteria on the surface of your skin. Ask the dermatologist about these issues.
I would suggest you consider changing the doctor you see for diabetes. A diagnosis of diabetes requires careful regulation of your blood glucose and A1c (glycosylated hemoglobin) to prevent long term complications. Find a doctor that has a greater interest in your diabetes and make an appointment to see a registered dietitian to talk about your eating plan. A lot has changed in diabetes care.
Hi. Thank you for your website. The information is quite valuable. I am a hypnotherapist and I have a link to you on my website for my weight-loss clients.
I don't know if you have run across many vegetarians like me, but I did not choose to be a vegetarian. Several years ago my body just began to reject animal products. I am really pleased that research is being done on the health aspects of vegetarian diets because that has been of concern to me. The only problem I've really noticed has been incidents of herpes outbreaks on my lips. I find that taking lysine supplementation has taken care of that. I also wanted to let you know that petroleum jelly has made a big difference in the strength of my fingernails.
How did your body start rejecting animal products? There are allergies to specific protein found in animal products or the lactose in milk, but have no references for a person's body rejecting animal products as a whole.
Petroleum jelly will block pores and add moisture whether or not you put it on your skin, lips, nails or even hair. Any moisturizer that prevents dryness will help prevent nails from breaking.
Greetings, I am a 22 year old male and have a few questions I just can't seem to get an answer for. I have severe ACNE and have had for a while. Besides using moisturizers for my face and mild exfoliants, I also combat this problem with my diet. I consume no alcohol, don't smoke, don't do drugs, consume hardly any refined sugar (very skin sensitive) or any citric acid or iodine for the same reasons. This strips my diet down to mainly raw if not bland foods. I juice about 40 oz. of carrots a day, which brings me to my first question.
1) My hands have turned a faint yellowish tinge over a period of two months but don't seem to be getting any worse. I would rather not stop juicing the carrots as they're doing wonders for my skin. Is this an acceptable outcome and/or is this a bad thing. What causes this stain and what does it mean???
2) I use 6-7 cloves of garlic a day to flush bacteria from my skin, could this be killing the friendly bacteria in my colon, should I be replacing this with something???
3) I consume quite large quantities of zinc (from carrots etc). This helps the scarring and reduces inflammation of the skin. I supplement this with some copper perhaps not as much as I should. If this mineral enhances male reproductive system, could I be making my skin worse by firing up my hormones???
4) I drink about 10-12 litters of water a day and use the bathroom accordingly. Could this much water flush out some of the nutrients I consume and should there be a limit to how much water somebody drinks.
I only weigh 160 lbs. Well I know you're a busy person and I admire what you do. I hope I haven't annoyed you too much with the length. and sorry if I have. I have tried to write to other practitioners without response, which has annoyed me, as I am quite confused about these matters. I look forward to your reply.
Acne is caused by overactive oil glands according to my dermatologist and some people have it even into midlife. Research has disproved that chocolate increases acne. Refined sugars, citric acid and iodine have no effect on skin. (Unless you were to place any of these substances directly on the skin, but I believe that you were referring to eating foods with these ingredients.) Sugar would contribute calories, which could affect your weight, but not your skin other than if you gained weight, your skin would stretch.
Iodine is essential for the formation of thyroxin, the hormone that which is produced by your thyroid gland and regulates your metabolism . This gland is at the base of your neck, in the front about where the hollow depression is. Iodine is found in ocean fish and iodized salt. I would not recommend that you restrict iodine as you may develop a goiter. If there is insufficient iodine in a person's diet, the thyroid gland increases in size which can result in a very unsightly large (grapefruit size) swelling at the base of your neck. Goiter was more prevalent in the center of the US where people were less likely to eat ocean fish before salt was fortified with iodine.
No reason to eat bland foods as spices and herbs don't aggravate acne either.
As to juicing 40 oz of carrots per day, you are drinking a lot of beta carotene (318,983 IU or 31,899 RE = 3,987% of your RDA) which is coloring your skin yellow because you have saturated your body stores (liver) of Vitamin A. Beta carotene is not toxic and the yellow tinge to your skin is not harmful or permanent. You will notice it more on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet. I wouldn't be surprised if the whites of your eyes were yellow too which would make your doctor think you were jaundiced and test you for liver disease. If you quit drinking carrot juice, the color will fade in a month or so depending on how saturated your skin is. I would recommend that you decrease your intake of beta carotene to no more than 1/2 to 1 carrot per day (7 1/2" or 72 grams or 2 1/2 oz) as it isn't going to help your acne.
Beta carotene is not the form of Vitamin A that has been prescribed for acne and internal application of vitamin A doesn't seem to affect acne. Retinol (available by prescription as RetinA) is a different form of Vitamin A that if taken internally can be toxic, even fatal at levels of 100,000 IU per day. In fact, 1 ounce of polar bear liver contains enough retinol vitamin A to kill you. (Probably more than you ever wanted to know about vitamin A, but...) RetinA is applied topically to the skin. I would suggest you see a dermatologist to evaluate your acne and I would recommend you follow their advice for treatment.
Garlic doesn't flush bacteria from the skin. In fact, you have many "good bacteria" that is an integral part of your skin. Garlic does nothing to the normal flora of friendly bacteria in your colon including e-Coli. Unfortunately, garlic has been ascribed many therapeutic properties, most of which are untrue. Garlic will however, linger on your breath, which may or may not be desirable to you.
Carrots are not a good source of zinc. The 40 ounces of carrots you eat only contain 2.27 mg of zinc, which is about 19% of your RDA . Zinc has not been found to improve acne, but is necessary for male reproduction. Increasing zinc will not increase testosterone production above the normal level for your body. Be careful with supplementing zinc and copper as they can suppress absorption of each other.
As to water, 10 to 12 liters per day is a bit much and I would recommend reducing to 8, eight ounce glasses per day (2 liters). Research has shown that up to 10 liters per day is not harmful unless a person has kidney disease. Excess water intake does not flush out nutrients, Your kidneys are pretty selective in what they keep and what they void as long as they are healthy. Anyway, excess nutrients are stored by the body, usually in the liver or bone, until needed. If body stores are saturated, absorption of vitamins and minerals decrease and the excess is excreted in urine. If body stores are depleted, absorption of vitamins and minerals increases.
BTW, can't comment on your weight without your height. Considering all your interest in nutrition and getting an adequate nutrient intake, I would suggest you try the Healthy Body Calculator. It will tell you how much of each vitamin and mineral you need according to the Recommended Dietary Allowances so that you don't overdose nutrients. It will also calculate whether or not your body weight is in a healthy range.
Best bet is to stick with 3 meals per day using the Food Guide Pyramid as a plan.
PS Next time why not call a Registered Dietitian? Try a local hospital or medical clinic. You seem to have a keen interest in your health and a dietitian could help you with a healthy meal plan! You asked some good questions that have not been asked before. Thanks.
The question is: Does eating Jell-O strengthen your nails? Is this a question you might be able to answer?
Eating Jell-O (gelatin is the basic ingredient) or unflavored gelatin does not strengthens nails. Nails are composed of protein with a high sulfur content. All protein you eat is broken down and circulates in your body protein pool (as amino acids) that is used to build and repair muscles, organs and other protein structures like hair and nails. (By the way, excess protein is stored as body fat.)
Nail strength seems to be more affected by environmental damage (i.e. any work that hits the end of the nail like housework, dishwashing or gardening), trauma to the nail (slamming it in a door) or some prescription drugs drugs (steroids). People tend to use nails as tools which increases breakage and can lead to separation of the nail from the bed below which will show up as a white line under the tip of the nail. Nails are ten times more porous than skin and can become chapped (dry) which can increase breakage. Increased exposure to water (dishwashing, cooking and swimming) does increase chapping of nails. So, protect your hands and nails when washing dishes. While nail polish and artificial nails may tend to superficially protect nails, there doesn't seem to be a problem with nail products other than irritation or allergy to some chemicals in polish, polish remover and glue (formaldehyde, acetone and nathacrylate respectively).
Infants tend to have very thin nails that can be torn rather than cut. Finger nails tend to thin with age as nail growth slows in senior populations, but toe nails tend to get thicker in seniors.
Nails which are keratin based rigid proteins are comprised of magnesium, salcium, iron, zinc, sodium, and copper. Finger nails can reflect some nutrient levels though. If a person's nail bed (skin under exposed nail) is spoon shaped (depressed in the middle like a spoon) or pale rather than pink, it can reflect low iron in the blood (hemoglobin). Nails can develop side to side ridges (bows ridges) because of fever, inflammation in the body or a short term illness (acute). Fine longitudinal ridges from cuticle to nail tip tend to develop with age and are not significant. Protein malnutrition will affect nail growth and health since it is the building material that comprise nails. Biotin deficiency can be seen in nails (also as reddened skin) though it is extremely rare. There is no Recommended Dietary Allowances for biotin as it is present in many foods throughout the food chain. Other than that, once damaged, a nail takes approximately 6 yo 9 months to grow from the cuticle (growing end) to the tip of a person's finger where it can be trimmed off. Other nail changes like white lines in the nail occur because of damage to the nail base when pushing back the cuticle or an abnormal hardening (keratinization) of the nail during formation.
I have lost 90 lb. over the last year through strenuous exercise and low fat/fat free foods.
I am now faced with LOTS OF SKIN! The excess skin is predominately in my abdomen and buttocks area (my legs did not suffer, especially since my form of exercise was an hour on the stair climber every day).
Will this ever go away? Is there a particular vitamin or topical ointment I can use to expedite the matter? Do I need to start saving for surgery in the future?
My plan was to wait a year, focus more exercise in this area (argh) and see if it didn't naturally correct itself.
What is your recommendation?
And thank you in advance for your time!
Congratulations on the weight loss and exercise program. I think your plan to exercise your abdomen and buttocks to reduce excess skin is sound.
There are no guarantees that excess skin will disappear after weight loss. There are no vitamins, topical ointments or creams that are effective. I think surgery would be a drastic way to go and you may have some scar tissue to deal with afterwards.
Exercise is a good plan to tighten up the muscles underlying the skin. I would guess that since your legs were not affected that exercise might be helpful to areas that concern you. Talk to an exercise physiologist or trainer where you use the stair climber machine for suggestions of exercises for other body areas. A total exercise routine should include weight lifting and aerobic exercise for your whole body.
I need to get in shape for summer. The only place I need to trim down is my buttocks and thighs. How do you get rid of cellulite? Or whatever that dimply fat is?
First of all, there is no such thing as cellulite. It was a word coined by people who advertised they could rid you of "lumpy" fat by using massage and passive exercise for muscles. The word cellulite refers to the type of body fat that on the surface looks like the peel of an orange, dimpled. However, body fat is body fat.
Most excess calories as fat are stored under the skin. You can also store fat in your muscles like marbling seen in meat. Your body stores excess calories from fat, protein, carbohydrates and alcohol as fat. Anything you eat can be fattening if it is more calories than your body needs at that time.
The number of fat cells you have was determined by the time you finished growing and the number of fat cells you have is fixed. Either you keep the fat cells full or you keep them empty. (This theory is being tested for other ages and sexes such as pregnant women who may be able to make more fat cells during the last three months of a pregnancy.) Ideally, you want to have a small number of fat cells.
A fat cell has an unlimited ability to increase in size. Your body is always storing fat in preparation for a famine, which in industrialized countries almost never happens. As fat cells increase in size, you may notice a rippling effect on the surface of your skin. This process can be reduced over all your body with exercise. Choose an exercise you like so that you will stick with exercising regularly.
With exercise you can decrease your percent of body fat and increase your percent of muscle. Most men have 18 to 20% body fat and most women have between 22 and 24% body fat. A woman's body needs body fat in order to make estrogen, which is the hormone women need in order to ovulate. Low body fat should be considered as a possible reason for some infertility. Be reasonable. Remember, women are supposed to have curves.
I would suggest you see a qualified physical therapist, exercise physiologist or health education instructor to suggest specific exercises. Then remember that your body benefits from regular (3 to 5 times a week at 30 to 60 minutes per day) exercise. If you are over age 35 or have a health problem, see your doctor first.
My 11-year-old son has lots of white spots on his nails. I seem to remember learning that a vitamin deficiency causes this. Can you tell me which vitamin and if there are any other problems that occur with this deficiency. Thank you.
White spots or lines that appear on nails are caused by trauma to the nail or by performing rough work. Your 11-year-old son may do some rough playing which may also be causative. These spots or lines can also occur when the nail is forming and cuticles are pushed back too roughly. If your nails are thin, damage can more easily occur. These white areas will grow out to the end of the nail and can be trimmed off during regular manicure. I checked with a doctor of Internal Medicine on this as well.
Iron deficiency may make your nail beds (pink color of skin under nail) look pale pink or dish shaped. Since there is very little overlying tissue, the small blood vessels under the nail are more transparent and reflect the iron in red blood cells, giving a pink cast to the skin under nails. Dish nails look curved and depressed in the middle, similar to though not as severely as the bowl of a spoon.
Acute illnesses including fever can cause a bump or ridge in a nail, which will grow out to the end of nail that, can be trimmed off.
No, unflavored gelatin or vitamin supplements do not strengthen nails. Nails are made of rigid protein much like hair and contain sulfur. Therefore would be negatively affected if the protein in a person's diet were restricted to very low levels as in malnutrition or starvation.
What can I do about splitting nails on the hands? Could it be related to my diet?
Splitting nails typically are more often caused by environmental injury (such as extended submersion in water like dishwashing or rough handwork like landscaping) or injury to the nail bed when pushing back your cuticles. Sometimes illness or surgery around the nail (hand or toe) can distort the nail with pits and ridges. It takes approximately 9 months for a nail to grow from the cuticle to the tip of your finger. This depends on how fast your nail grows.
Gelatin or other nutritional components have been tried with limited results. Nails are composed of a structural protein, similar to hair. Unless your diet is very deficient in protein and / or calories (protein - calorie malnutrition), there probably isn't a dietary cause to your splitting nails.
Most persons have found that brushing a nail strengthening polish on nails is more effective as a topical remedy to splitting nails.
I have a possible answer to a query posed to you on your website (below as a reminder). The symptoms the gentleman described sound exactly like those I experienced 20 years ago as a young, single soldier living in the barracks. Since I had to do my own laundry, I was very aware of everything I was using. I had started using one of those in-the-dryer fabric softeners when I noticed that I was developing a rash on my face and neck. I had no idea what the cause might be at first, but nothing helped it. It would gradually subside and then reappear a few days later.
I finally went over what, if anything, I was doing differently than I had been and thought about the new laundry product I had started using. I tried to remember whether the changes in the rash coincided with how long I had been sleeping on a particular pillowcase (increased rash with new pillowcase, gradual remission, then reappearance with a freshly washed pillowcase?), but could not remember. However, on a hunch, I stopped using the in-the-dryer fabric softener, and my rash problem went away.
Coincidence? Possibly, especially since you would think that the clean sheets would also cause a rash on the rest of my body, but did not. However, my facial skin has always been much more sensitive to external agents than the rest of me and to this day I am convinced those handy little sheets were the problem.
I would be willing to bet the inquiring gentlemen made a change in his laundry products; the rashes occur only on his neck and right side of his face because he sleeps predominantly on his right side and they subside over a period of three days as the chemicals lose their potency and / or are rubbed off by use over time. Replacement with clean pillowcases recreates the initial, rash causing situation.
Just a thought, hope it helps and thanks for a great site!
Good suggestion. When a person suddenly develops a rash or skin reaction, they should try to remember if they are using some new product than they did before. Thanks for the suggestion.
For the past year I have had a skin rash that appears only on the back of my neck and the right cheek of my face and around the edge of my right eye. I am a 49 year old single male and I do eat a lot of things such as pizza and Chinese food. I also have a cat. I am wondering if I have developed an allergy to some of the food I eat or (God Forbid!!) my cat. How can I tell if this is the case? The rash will disappear in two or three days and then mysteriously returns. It never appears on any other part of my body, only my neck and right face. I have no medical training, but just logical thinking leads me to believe it is diet related. Do people develop allergies as they get older?
I have never had any allergies in the past and could eat anything without any adverse reaction. Also, I would never have an adverse reaction to the cat I have now or the one I had before. I am baffled!! Can you possibly shed any light on my situation?
Could also be an environmental (topical - contact with skin) allergic reaction to including your cat or shampoo? I would suggest you see a doctor who has a special certification in Dermatology or Allergy for a diagnosis and treatment.
In the meantime, write down what you eat and any topical products that you use anywhere near your head. Also, write down where and what the rash looks like when it appears. This journal would be helpful to the doctor you see.
People can develop allergies at any age. It doesn't sound like a food-related allergy though, certainly to pizza or Chinese food. Allergies to MSG and sulfites usually do not manifest as a skin reaction.. Other foods can cause an allergic reaction, which can appear externally on the skin as a rash or internally on the tongue or throat.
What kind of a diet is good for your hair? What vitamins? I have heard about a high blood pressure drug that stimulated hair growth. Does too much washing take vitamins out of your hair?
The high blood pressure drug you are probably referring to is minoxidil, which is applied to the skin on your head. I would suggest you contact your physician to see if you would be a good candidate for the drug.
A balanced diet from the Food Guide Pyramid, (meat, milk, bread, fruits, vegetables and fat) which includes a variety of foods should provide you with a diet that fulfills your Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA). Hair is made of protein and a diet deficient in protein would show up in more hair loss. A very low calorie diet (less than 600 calories per day) would also cause hair loss because of a lack of dietary protein.
Vitamin therapy would also not be recommended for hair growth. Vitamin and or mineral supplements would not be effective in stimulating hair growth. Currently other than minoxidil, there is not any product on the market that will stimulate hair growth.
Washing does not remove vitamins or minerals from your hair. Hair is composed mainly of keratin protein. Applying incomplete proteins such as collagen to the hair will not change hair structure.
Hair is composed of dead cells, as are your fingernails. That is why it does not hurt when you have either cut.
The quality, quantity and distribution of hair are genetically determined. Take a look at your parent's hair.
Hair analysis has not yet been determined appropriate for general nutritional evaluation, even though businesses in hair analysis operate. Researchers sent samples of hair from one individual to several hair analysis labs. The lab reports on the hair samples were inconsistent as to vitamin and mineral content. You would be wasting your money in a hair analysis.
Why don't oats have the effect on humans as they do on horses? Horses fed oats develop thick, shiny hair and become energetic.
Neigh, that just isn't true for people. A horse's gastrointestinal systems are different from humans. Horses are able to eat a diet of all incomplete proteins.
Human hair is composed of keratin, which depends on an adequate intake of complete protein, zinc and sulfur. The color, texture and thickness of your hair are genetically determined. You can eat all the oats you want and that won't change your hair.
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