Believe it or not, nail care really begins from the inside out. What you eat and drink can greatly affect your overall health – including the health of your nails. Keep reading to learn about some essential vitamins and minerals that may help you maintain healthy-looking nails at any age.
How Your Nails Reflect Your Health
Did you know? The way your fingernails look can signify positive and negative changes to your internal health. For instance, if you have weak or brittle nails that break easily, you may have a vitamin deficiency. If your nails are discolored, you may have a fungal infection. Nail pitting (small icepick like indentations or white marks) may indicate psoriasis or an autoimmune disease, and so forth. Paying attention to the health of your nails is not only important to your beauty and self-image, but also to your physical wellbeing as well. And when it comes to nutrition, biotin is at the top of the list for nail care!
Biotin Really Works
Biotin, also known as vitamin H, which can be found naturally in salmon, almonds, dark leafy greens, and eggs, is a crucial B-complex vitamin that promotes nail growth. It works by helping to produce keratin, the same protein that makes up your hair and also supports nail strength and growth. When it comes to reinforcing the strength and beauty of your nails, researchers suggest taking a daily 2.5 mg biotin supplement. Try taking the supplement for at least 4 months to start seeing results.
Other Nutrients for Nail Care
While there is no conclusive evidence that proves certain vitamins and minerals – other than biotin – directly improve nail health, a well-nourished diet containing a full spectrum of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, and healthy fats may help promote overall health and wellness in the human body, which in turn could affect healthy-looking nails, skin, and hair. Here are a few of our favorites.
Folic acid (vitamin B9) plays an important role in the growth of healthy cells, including in your hair, skin, and nails. When found naturally in foods such as broccoli and chicken, it is actually called folate. This critical nutrient is included in prenatal vitamins for a reason – it supports the growth and development of the fetus!
Iron is a mineral that helps create red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. If you have thin, curved nails, you may have an iron deficiency and may need to supplement with iron-rich foods such as spinach or quinoa.
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a component of hair and nails that has some antioxidant properties. It has been used successfully to help stop the obsessive-compulsive habit of nail biting.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an antioxidant that helps fight free radical damage to human DNA and cells. It also helps with iron absorption. When it comes to nail care, vitamin C aids in natural collagen production in the body, which may help nails to grow. However, researchers are still debating its efficacy for nail health specifically.
Zinc is an important mineral used in the biochemical processes that rapidly produce cells – including those in fingernails. A zinc deficiency may cause nail splitting or white spots on nails.
What About Calcium?
When it comes to taking calcium the public generally believes that drinking more milk or taking calcium supplements may help with nail health; however, according to researchers, this is a myth. While nails do contain a small amount of calcium and the mineral does promote healthy bones, there is no clinical evidence to suggest it also promotes stronger nails.
So, aside from taking a daily biotin supplement and eating a well-balanced diet, here are more helpful tips for healthy nail care.
More Tips to Maintain Healthy-Looking Nails
How do you practice good nail care? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo by Thiago Barletta on Unsplash
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