Nutrition plays a crucial role in the functioning of your body, from the tips of your fingers to your toes. In fact, your nails show a lot about your health.
Adequate vitamin, mineral and nutrient intakes foster the formation, growth, and vitality of new nail cells. Every change in the appearance, texture or shape of your nails may indicate nutrient deficiencies.
You should eat the right foods to care for your nails. Here are the 8 vitamins and nutrients, which are the key to healthy nails.
Biotin is a B-complex vitamin, also known as vitamin B7, vitamin H, and coenzyme R. It supports healthy growth of the cells. Also, Biotin aids in the metabolism of protein-building amino acids that are vital for nail growth.
Insufficiency of this vitamin is rare, and while there is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for biotin, the recommendation for daily intake for adults has been set at 30 mcg.
Organ meat like liver has the highest concentration of biotin. Very good sources are also egg yolk, dairy products, salmon, yeast, sweet potato, avocado, seeds, and nuts.
2. Other B Vitamins
Other B vitamins are also very necessary for nail health.
Vitamin B12 is significant for iron absorption, as well as for the development of red blood cells. Both iron and B12 are needed for strong and healthy nails.
Folate, or vitamin B9, is important for nail growth and health. It contributes to red blood cell formation and to the development of new cells.
Blue nails, bluish-black pigments with wavy longitudinal dark streaks and brownish pigmentation are signs of deficiency of Vitamin B12. A deficiency in folate causes a pigment change in your nails and makes them brittle.
Adults require 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 and 400 mcg of folate daily, though pregnant women have an increased need.
Folate is in dark green vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, citrus fruits, and avocado. Vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy.
Iron is needed to carry oxygen to your organs and each cell in your body. Oxygen, in turn, is crucial for healthy nails. If you suffer from iron deficiency (anemia), the shape and appearance of your nails may be affected.
RDA for iron varies depending on age and gender. The recommendation for men is 8 mg daily, while for women aged 19–50 is 18 mg. After 50 or during the menopause, their iron needs fall to 8 mg per day.
The human body absorbs the iron from animal foods, such as beef, chicken, fish, and eggs, better than that from plant foods like green leafy vegetables, beans, peanuts, seeds.
Eating vitamin C-rich foods together with a plant-based iron food source enhances absorption. A good example of such a combination is a spinach salad with beans, seeds, and orange pieces.
Magnesium is a mineral that helps with protein synthesis and the formation of new nails. Vertical ridges in your nails are possibly a symptom of a magnesium deficiency.
The RDA is set at 400-420 mg for men and 310–320 mg for women.
Whole grains are very rich in magnesium. Dark green leafy vegetables, quinoa, black beans and nuts are also good sources.
Nails primarily consist of keratin. This is a fibrous structural protein that gives nails their strength and resilience.
The interesting fact is that the keratin on the surface is dead. Nails are composed of dead cells, which human body discards as new ones push up from underneath.
Enough protein in your diet is essential to stimulate keratin production, thus generating strong nails. The RDA for protein is 0.36 grams per pound (0.8 grams per kg) of body weight.
Animal foods are rich in protein. The good news for vegans is that plant food, such as soy, legumes, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains, is also a very good source.
6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids lubricate and moisturize your nails, thus giving them a shiny appearance to your nails. On the opposite, the lack of these acids causes dry and brittle nails.
The daily intake recommendation for Omega-3 fatty acids is 1.6 grams for men and 1.1 grams for women. Up to 1.6% of total calories shall come from omega-3s.
7. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is fundamental for collagen production. Collagen is a protein that gives strength, shape, and integrity to many tissues. It is the building block of fingernails, hair, and teeth.
A deficiency in vitamin C often results in brittle nails and slow nail growth.
Vitamin C cannot be produced by the human body. Men need 90 mg and women – 75 mg per day.
The best sources of Vitamin C are citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, bell peppers, green vegetables, and tomatoes.
Zinc is strongly required for the healthy nail growth.
Inadequate zinc intake can induce a degeneration of the nail plate. This causes the appearance of white spots on your nails.
The RDA for zinc is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women.
Animal proteins are an excellent way to consume adequate zinc through your diet. Certain plant foods like soy, chickpeas, black beans, nuts, and seeds contain this mineral as well.
Note!!! A balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients is the best way to improve and maintain nail health. In certain conditions, taking a supplement may be also helpful.