Nails and Nutrition: what your nails say about your health
Improving overall health and eating habits is a main goal for many. One of the most overlooked aspects of this is nail health. Many do not realise that your nails can act as warning signs to underlying health problems and provide a visual look of what kind of nutrients your body is lacking. In this post I will discuss how to spot any potential health issues and which foods promote healthy nail growth.
What your nails say about your health
- White spots appearing on the nail bed indicate a zinc deficiency.
- Thin curved nails (with ridges) can indicate iron deficiency.
- Dry and brittle nails can indicate a diet lacking in calcium.
- Horizontal lines across the nail Known as Muehrcke’s lines are linked to low levels of protein.
- Yellow or brown fingernails can show a number of signs. This ranges from overuse of nail polish and excessive smoking to much more severe cases such as diabetes, lung problems or liver disease. If this colouration is intense then consulting with a doctor is crucial.
This is why it is crucial to take a break from nails polish once in a while. You won’t be able to get an overall picture of the state of your nail health if your nail bed is covered all of the time.
Foods that promote health nail growth
A large proportion of our nails are made up of keratin. These are layers of protein that protect the tissue, hence consuming a sufficient level of protein in your diet can help promote regular growth. Sources of protein can be found in fish, seafood, eggs, yoghurt, chicken and turkey. If you are dairy intolerant, soya protein foods like tofu are also great option.
When the body does not absorb enough iron, our nails become brittle and weak hence more likely to split easily. In addition to a lack of iron in the diet, weak nails are also caused by exposure to chemicals and heavy use of water around the nails (hence why wearing gloves when washing the dishes is key!). Iron can be found in leafy greens such a spinach and kale, beans, lentils, whole-grain breads and nuts
This helps the body produce collagen (the main structural protein found in the skin) which strengthens the skin, bones and blood vessel walls. It also increases iron absorption from foods which is another key nutrient that is essential for your nails. Vitamin C can be found in bell peppers, kale, kiwis, mango, tomatoes and orange juice.
This antioxidant helps the circulation of blood that carries oxygen to the surface of the skin which promotes nail growth. Vitamin E can be found in sunflower seeds (fun fact: sunflower seeds are one of the best foods for nail growth as they contain zinc, iron, vitamin B6 and magnesium which also helps to restore shine in the nails), olive and sunflower oil, almonds, hazelnuts, avocado and broccoli.
It is important to remember that receiving the correct nutrients is only part of what keeps your nails strong and growing. Combine this with moisturising, regular trimming and using chemical free products will help ensure your nails can effectively do their job of protecting your fingers.
Lot’s of love,