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Skin, hair and nails offer the most current information about the health of patients. Based on Zoe Diana Draelos, MD FAAD, adjunct director of dermatology and assistant professor at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, and chief medical editor of Dermatology The Times(r) dermatologists are specially trained to examine the nutritional status for their clients.

In her speech in an event at American Academy of Dermatology Association 2022 Annual Meeting, which was held in Boston, Massachusetts, March 24 to 29, 2022. Draelos gave an overview of current knowledge regarding nutrition’s effects on the skin’s health. She also provided advice for dermatologists when to discuss the topic with their patients, and in assisting them eat to maintain the best skin, hair and nail health1.

“The greatest challenge in making patients aware of the impact of nutrition on their skin health is the belief that vitamins and nutritional supplements are able to help to make up the lack of a healthy diet (except for vitamin D which is a sex hormone, and not a genuine vitamin”,” Draelos told Dermatology Times(r),in a follow interview. “I say to people that healthy nutrition is easy: eat at least one thing that is colored every day.” That’s a simple method of ensuring that patients to receive the nutrients and vitamins they require, she explained.

Draelos explained to Dermatology Times(r)that the most prevalent problem she has observed among her patients are vitamin D in postmenopausal women. Draelos also stated that since the skin is made of protein, being a rich protein source is crucial for those suffering from skin diseases.

In the following paragraphs, Draelos prefers to give her patients an overview on the function of each nutrient and vitamin for skin health, and what foods it can be found. Draelos also said that it’s difficult for vitamin deficiencies to be detected on laboratory tests, except for vitamin D. Therefore “eating according to the color” is an essential way to build up your health because the levels of vitamins in serum may vary based on the test which makes the measurement difficult to establish.

How to help patients “Eat By Color” to improve Skin Health

Draelos described the connection between vitamins and food colorings and the importance of food colors to skin health, and the food items she suggests for to improve the appearance of her patients’ skin.

The color range is from yellow to orange Vitamin A

Vitamin E is essential to maintain skin health and vision genes and immune function. Retinal is necessary to see at night, and retinoic acid regulates gene transcription in the skin by binding to nuclear retinal acid receptors (RARs) that are bound to DNA. Retinoic acid stimulates T-cell differentiation and growth.

  • Most effective source: 2/3 cup of carrots (100 grams provide 93 percent of RDA for a mature male).

from Red to orange Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

Vitamin C is essential to repair tissue (collagen) and enzymatic creation of neurotransmitters as well as the immune system. It also functions to act as an antioxidant.

  • Best option: 1 cup of tomatoes a day or one handful of cherry tomatoes can help people meet the RDA of 90 mg/day in males and 75mg/day in females (tomatoes have 14 mg per 100g).

“Green: Vitamin E and Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that is fat-soluble and protects cell membranes from damage caused by oxidation and is a source of beta, alpha, delta and gamma tocopherols. Alpha is the most active biologically and gamma is the most commonly used in the western diet.

  • The best source is 1/4-1/2 raw avocado per day (to aid in reaching the RDA of 15mg daily to adults). Olive oil is also a great way to enhance absorption.

Folic acid is essential to reproduce DNA as well as RNA and RBCs and therefore is connected with hair, skin and the health of your nails. Also, it converts homocysteine methionine, which is associated with high homocysteine levels and cardiac diseases.

  • The best source is Avocado for helping you get the recommended daily dose of 400 mg for adults.

Brown Trace Minerals as well as Biotin

Trace minerals are essential in allowing metal-containing enzymes (matrix metalloproteinases , or MMPs) to function within the skin. Selenium is a key alternative antioxidant route. Electrolytes (potassium as well as chloride and phosphorus) along with metals (copper molybdenum, magnesium manganese iron and chrome) are also essential.

  • Best source: One Brazil nut. Dermatologists could also look into an additional supplement.

Biotin deficiency is not common However, if it’s present, the patient may have a an insufficient growth of hair and nails. There isn’t a specific RDA for biotin.

  • The best source is a handful of nuts every week. Almonds are a great source of protein.

Pink Protein (Chicken and Fish)

Hair, skin and nails are all pure protein, and people require an intake of protein each daily to provide amino acids to repair the body. Vegans often experience issues with hair loss as the first sign of nutritional problems.

  • The most reliable sources: Chicken or fish contain complete protein sources. Patients can also make use of milk or egg proteins.

Blue/Purple The word “antioxidants” is used to describe the properties of HTML0.

The blue/purple skin of the blueberry contains the antioxidants, which are the anthocyanins (flavonoids of the polyphenol family) malvidin and delphinidin.Blueberries also contain flavonol antioxidants quercetin and myricetin.

  • Best source: Blueberries.

Vitamin D Vitamin D Supplementation

Vitamin D is actually a sexual hormone, not a vitamin. According to Draelos the inability to consume enough amounts in a diet, and this is a situation where oral supplements may be the most effective. There are no age-adjusted supplementation guideline, however the latest guidelines are 800-1000IU for adults and 2000IU for postmenopausal women.

How can you maximize nutrition to maintain healthy hair, nails, and skin?

  • Yellow/orange (Vitamin A): 2/3 cup carrots
  • Red/orange (Vitamin C): one raw tomato daily
  • “Green (Vitamin E, Folic Acid) 1 avocado raw
  • Brown (Trace Minerals, Biotin): 1 Brazil almonds, nut
  • Pink (Protein): chicken, fish, collagen supplement
  • Blue/purple (Antioxidants): 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • Vitamin D 1,000-2000 IU daily supplement


Draelos has received research grants and grants in the form of Abbott Laboratories, Actavis, AGI Dermatics, Allergan, Inc., AmDerma Pharmaceuticals, LLC, Amgen, Amneal Pharmaceuticals, LLC, AstraZeneca, Avon Products, Inc., Bayer, Bayer Consumer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, Beiersdorf, Inc., Boots, Celgene Corporation, Chattem, Inc., Colgate-Palmolive, Dermira, Dial Corporation, Eli Lilly and Company, Elizabeth Arden, Exeltis, Galderma Laboratories, L.P., GlaxoSmithKline, Glenmark Generics Inc., Guthy-Renker, Helix BioMedix, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Company, Kao Brands, Kimberly Clark, Kythera, L’Oreal USA Inc., La Roche-Posay Laboratoire Pharmacyceutique, Lexington International LLC, Living Proof, Inc, Lumity, MakuCell, Inc., Maruho Co., Ltd, Medicis Pharmaceutical Corporation, Merck & Co., Inc., Merz Pharmaceuticals, LLC, Mimetica Pty. Limited, Neocutis, Neutrogena Corporation, Niadyne, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., Nuskin, Oculus, Onset Therapeutics, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Pacific Biosciences, Perrigo Company, Pfizer Inc., Procter & Gamble Company, Promius Pharma, LLC, Quinnova Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited, RECKITT BENCKISER (ESPANA), S.L., Revance Therapeutics, Inc., Revision Skincare, Signum Biosciences, Inc., SkinMedica, Inc., Sun Products Corporation, Suneva Medical, Inc. Symrise Syneron, Inc., Taro Pharm, Teva Pharmaceuticals America, Tolmar, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Vichy Laboratoires – I(Grants/Research Financial Support)


Draelos ZD. Optimizing nutrition for skin Health. The presentation was made at the American Academy of Dermatology 2022 Annual Meeting; March 24 – 29 2022 in Boston, MA.