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Protect your skin, hair and nails from the ravages of cold weather

Keep your skin, nails and hair in tip-top condition this winter.

Do you notice that your skin becomes flaky and dry in the winter, that your lips are always chapped and conditions such as eczema suddenly become worse? Your hair may become extra brittle and your nails constantly flake and chip. Cold winter winds, central heating indoors, hot baths or showers and a reduced intake of fresh fruit, salads and fluids all play havoc with the condition of your skin, nails and hair.

This winter, there are some steps that you can take to protect your body from the harsh effects of the colder weather. Include in your diet a wide range of fruits and vegetables. Seasonal goodies, such as Sharon fruit (persimmons) and squashes and pumpkins are all full of nutrients, including beta-carotene and vitamin C, which are central to skin, nail and hair health.

A deficiency of essential fats is often detectable by observing the condition of your skin.  Dry, flaky skin suggests that you may benefit from more foods rich in essential fats. Eat pumpkin seeds and take advantage of all the fresh nuts available at this time of year, as a good source of essential fatty acids. The other source of healthy fats for your skin is fish. Eat one or two portions of oily fish, such as salmon, fresh tuna or sardines each week to ensure that you are getting some omega three fatty acids. If you do not like fish, fish oil supplements are available. Other oils beneficial to the skin include flaxseed oil (linseed oil) and evening primrose oil. Be sure to drink plenty of water during the winter-months. It may be harder than it was in the summer, but it’s just as important, as central heating is dehydrating to the body. Avoid drinking too much tea and coffee, which dehydrates you further, but enjoy herbal teas and hot soups instead.

Nutritional supplements can help to ensure dietary intake of nutrients that may support hair, skin and nail health, which are all made up of connective tissue. This connective tissue contains primarily collagen and keratin, which are strong, fibrous proteins. Certain nutrients are vital to the formation of these proteins, therefore ensuring an adequate supply of these will go a long way to supporting the condition of your hair, skin and nails.  Collagen and keratin-building nutrients include sulphur, the antioxidants (especially vitamin C) and zinc. MSM (Methyl- Sulfonyl-Methane) is an organic Sulphur containing compound which, may also help to support strong hair, hard nails and moist, supple skin.

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