What to eat for healthy hair and radiant skin

Winter brings with it a whole new set of beauty challenges for hair and skin. While you may feel like eating stodgy comfort foods, it's important to maintain a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and veg, for the sake of your looks as well as your health.

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Best foods for skin

As we age, the body produces less CoQ10, a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin and other body cells from the damage caused by free radicals. To keep levels topped up, make sure you include fish such as salmon and tuna, poultry, liver and whole grains in your diet.

Antioxidants which prevent or slow the damage done to cells by free radicals can also be found in a variety of foods, such as berries, tomatoes, apricots, squash, sweet potato, tangerines, peppers, and beans.

For soft supple skin, make sure you're getting enough vitamin A, found in fruit and veg such as oranges and carrots, as well as eggs and diary. Applying vitamin A topically to the skin is also said to improve signs of fines lines and wrinkles.

Remember to drink plenty of water too. Water keeps skin hydrated and helps cells take up nutrients and improve blood flow to give you a youthful glow.

Best foods for hair

The average person's hair grows about 1/4 to 1/2 inch every month, and the foundation of all of our new hair (along with skin and nail growth) is down to the nutrients we eat. Eat well, and you'll encourage healthy skin and hair growth on the outside.

Salmon is a high-quality protein source and loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which help to support scalp health, as well vitamin B-12 and iron. If you're not a fan of fish, try adding a few tablespoons of ground flaxseed to your breakfast or yoghurt, for plant-based omega-3 fats.

Dark green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli are great sources of vitamins A and C, which your body needs to produce sebum (the oily substance secreted by your hair follicles that acts as the body's natural hair conditioner), as well as being a good source of iron and calcium.

Selenium, found in Brazil nuts, is an important mineral for the health of your scalp – so don't skimp on the nuts. Walnuts also contain alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that may help condition your hair and contain zinc which can help produce strong healthy hair (zinc deficiency has been linked to hair shedding). Other good sources of zinc include whole grains, beef, lamb and oysters.

Finally ensure your diet contains plenty of protein, found in chicken, eggs and lentils, in order to prevent weak and brittle hair.

If you're considering taking supplements, vitamin C is a good for skin - it keeps the skin firm and is used in the production of collagen. If you are not a big fruit and veg-eater, tablets are available in a variety of forms.

Similarly vitamin E can help maintain your skin's appearance and good health. Fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil and evening primrose oil, help the skin to retain moisture and keep it soft and supple.

For the hair, many swear by amla berries. There hasn't been much scientific research into this little berry's benefits but it has been used for centuries in the Aryuvedic tradition and is believed to promote healthy hair, skin and muscle tone, and gooseberry oil, which is derived from the amla berry, provides heavenly hydration.

Of course, there are clever people who have put a host of superfoods into one handy little pill.

Phytonutrients capsules from The Organic Pharmacy pack anti-oxidant-rich spinach, broccoli, spirulina and wheat grass into a hair, skin and nail-boosting £25 bottle.

Meanwhile Christian Bergman's Deep Dew is a Swedish supplement that has been dubbed "botox in a pill". It combines oils, vitamins E and C, extract of blueberries, mallow and grape seeds and claims to stimulate collagen production - for just under £20.