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science nutrition blog

science nutrition <strong>blog</strong>

By Robert Schinetsky


New York Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced that Air Quality Health Advisories were issued for regions in eastern New York State due to smoke from Canadian wildfires. Local and national agencies are monitoring ever-changing air quality conditions, have issued air quality alerts, and are coordinating efforts to prevent/reduce exposure to increased concentrations of air pollution.1

Air pollution isn’t just something that blurs a beautiful blue sky or is used as a platitude for Saturday morning cartoons – it’s a life-threatening issue. Particulate matter, contained in air pollution, presents a serious threat to health and well-being.15 A whole host of tiny particles can be found in particulate matter, including smog, tobacco smoke, soot, dust, pollen, house dust mite allergens, exhaust gas from traffic/kitchen hoods, wood-burning fireplaces, etc.4

Multiple studies have found that particulate matter/air pollution may:

• Contribute to premature skin aging (in fact, 80% of premature facial aging is attributable to prolonged solar radiation)2,3

• Be associated with the development of various skin-related maladies4

• Increase production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and inflammatory cytokines, which could hinder hair growth5

• Exacerbate airway inflammation and/or oxidative stress in children/adolescents6

• Penetrate hair follicles and skin tissue (thereby leading to oxidative stress and inflammation)7,18

• Contribute to the development of various cancers13,14 • Be associated with incidence of stroke and coronary heart disease, even at pollutant concentrations lower than current limit values17

• Be correlated with the increased mortality and morbidity4

• Be a risk factor for bone fractures and osteoporosis27 Furthermore, accelerated signs of visible skin aging (primarily occurring on the face, neck, and forearms) that are attributable to air pollution include deep wrinkles, dryness, roughness, decreased elasticity, and uneven pigmentation.8

In addition to lifestyle changes, certain nutraceuticals have been shown in research to support skin health and support the body’s natural antioxidant defense systems. In fact, a 2016 review noted that:

“Because inflammation and oxidative stress appear to mediate the health effects of air pollution, one interventional approach to consider is the use of dietary supplementation or medication with anti-inflammatory or antioxidant properties to block the biological responses that initiate the pathophysiological process that culminates in adverse health effects.”12

Today, we highlight a few of the best research-backed skin hair and nails supplements. No matter if you’re in the northern United States or casually interested in supporting your body’s essential exterior structures, this list is for you!

Top Skin Hair & Nails Supplements

N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)

N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is an “improved” version of the amino acid L-cysteine. NAC has been rigorously investigated and supports the production of the body’s “master” antioxidant – glutathione. With regard to its health-supporting effects, NAC may help to fortify the body’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory defense networks, which may support the ability to resist damaging effects from UV radiation and air pollution. Furthermore, NAC has been found to support the cardiovascular system and easier breathing (when exposed to air pollutants).9,10 Other studies indicate that a combination of NAC + a polyphenol-rich extract may help to decrease levels of pro-inflammatory molecules, including IL-6 and TNF-alpha.11

A 2019 review appearing in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology concluded that N-acetylcysteine could potentially serve as a safe, tolerable, and beneficial for an array of skin-related conditions.16

Keep in mind that, in addition to its hair, skin, and nail benefits, NAC is widely regarded for its immune-support qualities.

Vitamin C

Renowned for its antioxidant and immune-aiding properties, vitamin C also offers benefits in the realm of host defense from environmental agitators, including UV rays and particulate matter.20,21 More specifically, research notes that various adverse effects on the skin occur as a result of oxidative stress and inflammatory cytokines. Scientists note that compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may be useful for individuals seeking to fortify the body’s resistance to particulate matter-induced assaults on the skin.4 It has also been stated in research that a combination of vitamin C + vitamin E (another potent antioxidant) may offer greater skin-related benefits than either one used alone.20,21

Additionally, Vitamin C also acts as a cofactor for the enzymes (proline and lysine hydroxylases) that stabilize the collagen molecule tertiary structure, and it also promotes collagen gene expression.


Collagen is the most abundant structural protein in the body that lays the foundation for the body’s major structures, including hair, nails, joints, ligaments, bones, blood vessels, and skin. As you likely know, the skin serves as an important shield (protector) from all manner of external threats, including microbial ne’er-do-wells, air pollution, and particulate matter. However, environmental factors, including air pollution, smoking, and UV radiation can exacerbate collagen degradation, accelerate skin aging, cause thinning/weakness of skin, accentuate wrinkles, and reduce wound healing.24

Supplementation with hydrolyzed collagen peptides has been shown to benefit endogenous collagen production, inhibit inflammatory cytokines, and promote healthy skin changes, such as decreased wrinkle formation, improved skin elasticity, increased hydration, increased collagen content, density, and synthesis – factors that are closely associated with aging-related skin damage.22

Additional evidence suggests that consistent collagen supplementation may help to reduce skin aging, by decreasing signs of wrinkles and improving skin elasticity and hydration.23


Found in various plant foods, polyphenols are a large, diverse family of compounds that offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-proliferative properties, which may help to combat reactive oxygen species (ROS), reduce oxidative stress, and enhance cellular antioxidant capacity. Oral intake of polyphenol-enriched supplements has been shown in research to potentially inhibit the levels of pro-inflammatory markers and cytokines.25

Polyphenols inhibit the activity of enzymes present in the skin – collagenase and elastase, which active the breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers, and they also inhibit hyaluronidase – the enzyme that degrades hyaluronic acid.20

Furthermore, a 2019 article published in Antioxidants suggested that polyphenols may have a protective effect on skin exposed to high levels of air pollution.26

Other Considerations

In addition to the aforementioned nutraceuticals, other lifestyle modifications and nutraceuticals have been shown in research to improve the body’s ability to resist skin and hair damage as well as bolster endogenous antioxidant capacity.

A thought-provoking study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that habitual exercise is a safe “health promotion strategy even for people residing in relatively polluted regions.”28 Specifically, sedentary individuals with high particulate matter exposure exhibited a 123% higher risk of cardiovascular death than high-exercising individuals exposed to low levels of particulate matter.28

This is particularly interesting, due to the fact that exercising (particularly exercising outdoors) may contribute to increased particulate matter exposure as well as UV-induced damage. However, vitamin D is an important prohormone and essential vitamin that the skin produces when exposed to sunshine. Furthermore, regular vigorous exercise is widely regarded as one of the best things you can do to support total body health and well-being.

Additional nutraceuticals to consider for additional defense-enhancement from external factors includes:

• Selenium – a key trace mineral that serves as an important antioxidant, and research notes that selenium levels tend to offer a measure of protective benefits against certain skin agitants29

• Choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid which is known to offer “a significant positive effect on skin surface and skin mechanical properties”30 • Vitamin D (as mentioned above)

• B vitamins which play a role in healthy hair, skin, and nail growth (as well as energy metabolism)


Air pollution and particulate matter are a serious, yet largely overlooked, factor that can impact quality of life and longevity. Be aware that particulate matter isn’t solely relegated to the outdoors – indoor particulate matter has also been recognized as a threat, and measures are being taken to establish and improve ways to track indoor air quality and improve health, living, and working conditions for individuals.31

AML Hair, Skin & Nails Cocktail offers a robust array of research-backed nutraceuticals to help support, nourish, and fortify your body’s most essential structures against the myriad environmental agitators and aggressors. † Click here to learn more about AML Hair, Skin & Nails Cocktail, and why it’s the premier option on the market!

† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

© Published by Advanced Research Media, Inc. 2023

© Reprinted with permission from Advanced Research Media, Inc.



2. Schikowski T, Hüls A. Air Pollution and Skin Aging. Curr Environ Health Rep. 2020 Mar;7(1):58-64. doi: 10.1007/s40572-020-00262-9. PMID: 31927691.

3. Uitto J. Understanding premature skin aging. N Engl J Med. 1997;337(20):1463–1465. doi: 10.1056/NEJM199711133372011

4. Kim KE, Cho D, Park HJ. Air pollution and skin diseases: Adverse effects of airborne particulate matter on various skin diseases. Life Sci. 2016 May 1;152:126-34. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2016.03.039. Epub 2016 Mar 25. PMID: 27018067.

5. Jun MS, Kwack MH, Kim MK, Kim JC, Sung YK. Particulate Matters Induce Apoptosis in Human Hair Follicular Keratinocytes. Ann Dermatol. 2020 Oct;32(5):388-394. doi: 10.5021/ad.2020.32.5.388. Epub 2020 Sep 29. PMID: 33911773; PMCID: PMC7992589.

6. Patel MM, Chillrud SN, Deepti KC, Ross JM, Kinney PL. Traffic-related air pollutants and exhaled markers of airway inflammation and oxidative stress in New York City adolescents. Environ Res. 2013 Feb;121:71-8. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2012.10.012. Epub 2012 Nov 23. PMID: 23177171; PMCID: PMC3577992.

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9. Xu Y, Bu H, Jiang Y, Zhuo X, Hu K, Si Z, Chen Y, Liu Q, Gong X, Sun H, Zhu Q, Cui L, Ma X, Cui Y. N‑acetyl cysteine prevents ambient fine particulate matter‑potentiated atherosclerosis via inhibition of reactive oxygen species‑induced oxidized low density lipoprotein elevation and decreased circulating endothelial progenitor cell. Mol Med Rep. 2022 Jul;26(1):236. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2022.12752. Epub 2022 May 27. PMID: 35621139; PMCID: PMC9185698.

10. Rhoden CR, Lawrence J, Godleski JJ, González-Flecha B. N-acetylcysteine prevents lung inflammation after short-term inhalation exposure to concentrated ambient particles. Toxicol Sci. 2004 Jun;79(2):296-303. doi:10.1093/toxsci/kfh122. Epub 2004 Mar 31. PMID: 15056806.

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12. Tong H. Dietary and pharmacological intervention to mitigate the cardiopulmonary effects of air pollution toxicity. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016 Dec;1860(12):2891-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2016.05.014. Epub 2016 May 14. PMID: 27189803.

13. Hill W, et al. TRACERx Consortium; DeGregori J, Jamal-Hanjani M, Swanton C. Lung adenocarcinoma promotion by air pollutants. Nature. 2023 Apr;616(7955):159-167. doi: 10.1038/s41586-023-05874-3. Epub 2023 Apr 5. PMID: 37020004; PMCID: PMC7614604.

14. Liu H, Zhang X, Sun Z, Chen Y. Ambient Fine Particulate Matter and Cancer: Current Evidence and Future Perspectives. Chem Res Toxicol. 2023 Feb 20;36(2):141-156. doi: 10.1021/acs.chemrestox.2c00216. Epub 2023 Jan 23. PMID: 36688945.

15. Ngoc LTN, Park D, Lee Y, Lee YC. Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Human Skin Diseases Due to Particulate Matter. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Nov 25;14(12):1458. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14121458. PMID: 29186837; PMCID: PMC5750877.

16. Janeczek M, Moy L, Riopelle A, Vetter O, Reserva J, Tung R, Swan J. The Potential Uses of N-acetylcysteine in Dermatology: A Review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2019 May;12(5):20-26. Epub 2019 May 1. PMID: 31320973; PMCID: PMC6561714.

17. Wolf, K., Hoffmann, B., Andersen, Z. J., Atkinson, R. W., Bauwelinck, M., Bellander, T., Brandt, J., Brunekreef, B., Cesaroni, G., Chen, J., de Faire, U., de Hoogh, K., Fecht, D., Forastiere, F., Gulliver, J., Hertel, O., Hvidtfeldt, U. A., Janssen, N. A. H., Jørgensen, J. T., Ljungman, P. L. S. (2021). Long-term exposure to low-level ambient air pollution and incidence of stroke and coronary heart disease: a pooled analysis of six European cohorts within the ELAPSE project. The Lancet Planetary Health, 5(9), e620–e632.

18. Jin, Seon-Pil et al. Urban particulate matter in air pollution penetrates into the barrier-disrupted skin and produces ROS-dependent cutaneous inflammatory response in vivo. Journal of Dermatological Science, Volume 91, Issue 2, 175-183

19. Bo YC, Yu T, Guo C, Lin CC, Yang HT, Chang LY, Thomas GN, Tam T, Lau AKH, Lao XQ. Cardiovascular Mortality, Habitual Exercise, and Particulate Matter 2.5 Exposure: A Longitudinal Cohort Study. Am J Prev Med. 2023 Feb;64(2):250-258. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2022.09.004. Epub 2022 Oct 19. PMID: 36272861.

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21. Pullar JM, Carr AC, Vissers MCM. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients. 2017 Aug 12;9(8):866. doi: 10.3390/nu9080866. PMID: 28805671; PMCID: PMC5579659.

22. Campos LD, Santos Junior VA, Pimentel JD, Carregã GLF, Cazarin CBB. Collagen supplementation in skin and orthopedic diseases: A review of the literature. Heliyon. 2023 Mar 28;9(4):e14961. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e14961. PMID: 37064452; PMCID: PMC10102402.

23. de Miranda RB, Weimer P, Rossi RC. Effects of hydrolyzed collagen supplementation on skin aging: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Dermatol. 2021 Dec;60(12):1449-1461. doi: 10.1111/ijd.15518. Epub 2021 Mar 20. PMID: 33742704.

24. Li K, Meng F, Li YR, Tian Y, Chen H, Jia Q, Cai H, Jiang HB. Application of Nonsurgical Modalities in Improving Facial Aging. Int J Dent. 2022 Feb 24;2022:8332631. doi: 10.1155/2022/8332631. PMID: 35251183; PMCID: PMC8894069.

25. Sim, W.-J., Lee, E., Yun, S., Lim, W., & Lim, T.-G. (2023). Particulate matter-induced skin inflammation is suppressed by polyphenol-enriched dietary supplement via inhibition of the AhR/ARNT signaling pathway. Journal of Functional Foods, 106, 105593.

26. Boo YC. Can Plant Phenolic Compounds Protect the Skin from Airborne Particulate Matter? Antioxidants (Basel). 2019 Sep 6;8(9):379. doi: 10.3390/antiox8090379. PMID: 31500121; PMCID: PMC6769904

27. Prada D, Zhong J, Colicino E, Zanobetti A, Schwartz J, Dagincourt N, Fang SC, Kloog I, Zmuda JM, Holick M, Herrera LA, Hou L, Dominici F, Bartali B, Baccarelli AA. Association of air particulate pollution with bone loss over time and bone fracture risk: analysis of data from two independent studies. Lancet Planet Health. 2017 Nov;1(8):e337-e347. doi: 10.1016/S2542-5196(17)30136-5. Epub 2017 Nov 9. PMID: 29527596; PMCID: PMC5841468.

28. Bo YC, Yu T, Guo C, Lin CC, Yang HT, Chang LY, Thomas GN, Tam T, Lau AKH, Lao XQ. Cardiovascular Mortality, Habitual Exercise, and Particulate Matter 2.5 Exposure: A Longitudinal Cohort Study. Am J Prev Med. 2023 Feb;64(2):250-258. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2022.09.004. Epub 2022 Oct 19. PMID: 36272861.

29. Lv J, Ai P, Lei S, Zhou F, Chen S, Zhang Y. Selenium levels and skin diseases: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2020 Dec;62:126548. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2020.126548. Epub 2020 May 20. PMID: 32497930.

30. Barel, A., Calomme, M., Timchenko, A., Paepe, K., Demeester, N., Rogiers, V., Clarys, P., & vanden berghe, D. (2005). Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on skin, nails and hair in women with photodamaged skin. Archives of Dermatological Research, 297, 147-153.

31. How Safe Is the Air in Your Office? The New York Times, Tuesday, July 4, 2023.