The Benefits of Vitamin B
With a number of studies demonstrating how the inclusion of vitamin B in face creams could help to prevent the effects of ageing, the beauty industry has become particularly interested in vitamin B as a nutritional beauty supplement.
Leading the vitamin B complex pack, nicotinamide, a derivative of vitamin B3 (also known as niacin), has been shown to improve the ability of the epidermis, the upper-most layer of the skin, to retain moisture. As such, supplementation with niacin could lead to softer, smoother skin with less dryness and flakiness, as well as a reduction of fine lines. Nicotinamide can also serve as an effective skin-lightening agent when added to moisturisers.
More generally, B-complex vitamins can counteract damage caused by free-radicals (molecules that break down healthy cells). By reducing free radical damage, your hair, skin and nail health could be enhanced.
B Vitamins for Healthy Hair
B vitamins help us to metabolise food sources, providing nutrients to the whole body including your hair and its follicles. Deficiencies of vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B5 can result in poorly-nourished hair follicle cells. Not getting enough vitamin B9 or folic acid can also slow down cell division within the hair follicles, which, in turn, slows hair growth.
Vitamin B7 (biotin) is also essential for maintaining the texture, tone and strength of your locks; a biotin deficiency can lead to hair loss. Vitamin B7 supplementation can also be used to treat cradle cap, a scalp condition which affects infants.
B Vitamins for Healthy Skin
If you are suffering from chronic skin issues – or even just sick of dealing with a dull and unhealthy complexion – the cause may be a vitamin B deficiency.
A study by Bisset et al, presented at the Annual Meeting of Dermatology in 2003, demonstrated that a topical form of vitamin B was shown to dramatically reduce the effects of ageing in human skin.
The University of Maryland Medical Centre has also reported research which shows that supplementation of vitamin B5 can also help to lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels, indirectly promoting healthy skin. Vitamin B5 also helps to promote faster healing of skin wounds and is most effective when combined with vitamin C. Additionally, vitamin B5 can help to minimise acne by helping the body to break down oils in the form of triglycerides and cholesterol.
Lastly, vitamin B3 is often used to improve the appearance or severity of some skin conditions and B12 vitamin supplementation could even help regulate your skin’s pigment production and location, preventing hyperpigmentation (the darkening of skin in certain parts of your body).
B Vitamins for Healthy Nails
Your nails require a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet in order to grow and be healthy and a number of B vitamins are important for nail health.
Vitamin B12 (riboflavin) helps the body to absorb the essential mineral iron, necessary for healthy and strong nails. Without enough access to usable iron, fingernails can turn white, brittle and thin and begin to grow abnormally.
Vitamin B12 also plays an important role in the formation of red blood cells, where a deficiency of B12 can lead to the development of anaemia. One of the symptoms of anaemia is pale, unhealthy or unsightly nails. Vitamin B9 (folate) is also important for the health and growth of nails, as this helps with the development of new cells (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention).