As with the skin, hair and nails, also called epithelial appendages, are often a good indicator of your overall health, age and nutritional balance. Cysteine and Zinc deficiency can be diagnosed from the general state of your hair and nails. The hair and nails are made basically up of keratin, and one of the principal components of Keratin is Cysteine. During Cysteine deficiency, the body replenishes its supplies through the break down of Keratin, which has a negative impact on the hair and nails.
Cysteine is an amino acid that naturally occurs in most proteins. It is an unstable compound that can be broken down very easily. Zinc actively supports the growth of epithelial appendages and protects the body's cysteine reserves. A Zinc deficit will, therefore, not only cause a decrease in nail and hair growth but will also affect the body's Cysteine supply, which is essential to keratin synthesis. During Zinc or Cysteine deficiency, nails become split and broken and white marks may appear, hair growth can stop or it may fall out, and become fine and brittle.
It is important to increase your Zinc intake in order to stimulate growth and to protect keratin reserves. The main sources of Zinc, found in food, are shellfish, leguminous vegetables and offal. Due to the relatively low bio-availability of Zinc, it is estimated that around 80% of adults are Zinc deficient. The requirement for Zinc is increased in women taking the oral contraceptive pill, pregnant and breast feeding women, children and teenagers during periods of growth as well as in the elderly. A deficiency can be resolved by taking nutritional supplements. If you are taking more than one supplement it is important to check that your zinc intake is not too high since there are many supplements already containing Zinc, and an excessive intake could have a harmful effect on your overall health.
Like every cell in the body, the hair and nail cells age and die. Hair growth slows and nails become weaker. By supplementing silica, the structure of the nail and hair can be improved. Silica is an essential mineral in hair, nail, cartilage and arterial formation and can be extracted in 5 to 10% concentration from the Horsetail plant (Equisetum Arvense). Horsetail is recommended as a remedy to support the healthy growth of epithelial appendages (nails, skin and bone), particularly during changes in season.
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