The effects hormones have on your hair, skin and nails by Naturopath Jennifer Murrant< back
Hormones are chemical messengers in the body, communicating through an intricate network of endocrine glands, receptors and biochemical cascades, responding to both internal and external stimuli. All will influence one another and every system has it’s own response to complex hormonal signalling pathways. The integumentary system (skin, hair and nails) is no exception. The skin, the largest organ in the body, has its own cellular metabolism and both perceives and responds to stress.
The wide ranging hormonal influences on the skin, hair and nails is complex, here is a brief overview of just a few ….
Stress Hormones – Adrenaline, Noradrenaline and Cortisol
When people are under stress of any kind for a prolonged period of time, this will be reflected in the skin, hair and nails. This occurs via a cascade of hormones via a systems initiated by the autonomic nervous system. Systemically, elevated stress hormones, such as adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, contribute to a number of negative impacts, such as compromised immunity, impaired blood sugar metabolism, increased inflammation and cellular damage. The cells in our skin, hair and nails are directly impacted by the dysregulation of this system.
An example of a well established external stress factor for the skin is excess sun and UV radiation. Another demonstrable impact of hormones on skin integrity is illustrated by observing the long term consequences of using steroidal cremes (cortisone, which is the synthetic form of the adrenal hormone, cortisol), directly leading to skin ageing through the degradation of important matrix proteins including collagen and elastin.
Ways in which we can minimise the ravages of stress on our systems and the impact on our skin, nails and hair include:
– ensuring sufficient rest, sleep for repair
– learning ways to regulate the autonomic nervous system, and reducing stress
– ensuring adequate hydration
– nutrient dense diet, avoiding processed foods
– avoid smoking
– avoid sunburn and excess sun exposure
– take a quality supplement such as ProPlenish Marine Collagen or Marine Collagen +
The role of oestrogen has been the subject to many studies in relation to most systems, including bone health as well as in respect to ageing. In menstruating women, skin thickness varies during the cycle corresponding to when oestrogen is highest in the cycle, and there is a strong association with accelerated ageing and hair loss once oestrogen levels decline after menopause. Progesterone also declines and is also implicated in the ageing process. The mechanism for this however is not well understood, although collagen depletion is one of the consequences.
The decision on whether to replace these dwindling hormones either orally or via transdermal application, should be discussed in terms of risk / benefits with your doctor, taking into consideration individual variables. It is also important to note, however, that with ageing there is a greater requirement for nutrients in general. Whilst there are many studies comparing those on HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) with those who are not (with some variance in results), I am not aware of a study that includes a group which does not take HRT but does take a supplement such as ProPlenish Marine Collagen + which includes a number of nutrients which are often diminished as we age. These nutrients include Vitamins C and E, Biotin, Zinc, Selenium and Silica, all associated with skin, hair and nail health (a brief outline of some of the roles of these nutrients is listed below).
Regardless of the decision to HRT or not, paying careful attention to diet and lifestyle is important. For example, including phytoestrogens (plant based oestrogens) can be helpful in boosting collagen. Supplementing with ProPlenish Marine Collagen is also highly recommended. I have been taking this supplement for almost a year now and can really notice the difference. Encouragingly, studies have also demonstrated an improvement in moisture retention, collagen quantity and structure within the skin when taking oral collagen supplementation, even in post menopausal women.
My brief description of the ways in which the added nutrients in ProPlenish Marine Collagen + support the skin, hair and nails:
Vitamin C and bioflavonoids: It is well established that Vitamin C is an essential nutrient in connective tissue integrity, so ensuring enough of this nutrient, as well as bioflavonoids
Biotin: Also known as Vitamin B7, often declining after menopause
Vitamin E: Antioxidant and protective against UV radiation
Zinc: As well as an important co-factor in numerous biochemical processes, zinc is also required for collagen production
Selenium: Anti-oxidant, helping to reduce ageing free radicals
Silica: Required for optimum collagen synthesis.
Written by Jennifer Murrant, co-founder of Health Synergy, a mother-daughter team that evolved from a mutual passion for health and wellbeing. Jennifer has been studying and/or practicing as a nutritionist/naturopath for over 20 years with University qualifications in Health Science (Complementary Medicine), and Post graduate qualifications Psychotherapy, Counselling and Coaching Psychology. With her daughter, Hannah, a University of Sydney media and communications graduate, the pair have created a blog, Instagram and recipe app catering to a number of dietary requirements, to help spread the wellness message.
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