Your nails, just like your skin, can reveal much about your overall health. Slow-growing and constantly breaking nails or changes in nail texture and shape that make them not as beautiful as expected all indicate an underlying medical condition.
And while your first instinct may be to apply polish on unsightly nails, experts recommend checking your diet and supplements first. That’s for the simple reason that most nail problems result from nutritional deficiencies.
Fortunately, there are numerous vitamins and minerals known to promote healthy nails. This article looks at five such nutrients.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Vitamin B7, or biotin as it’s more commonly known, is a B-complex vitamin noted for its many health benefits. The vitamin goes by other alternative names, including vitamin H and coenzyme R.
One of biotin’s primary benefits is promoting healthy cell growth. It also plays a key role in metabolizing the amino acids required for nail growth. That explains why this vitamin is an essential ingredient in nearly all nail strengtheners you’ll come across.
Using a quality nail strengthener formulated with the right minerals can significantly improve your natural nail plate’s condition. These products typically work in two ways – protecting the nails from mechanical stress by reinforcing the nail structure and nourishing them with the nutrients they require to maintain their overall health.
While investing in nail strengtheners is a crucial tip for keeping your nails healthy, experts also recommend supplementing with biotin-rich foods.
Biotin is abundant in organ meats like liver, seafood like salmon, and dairy products like yogurt. Other common sources include egg yolk, sweet potatoes, yeast, avocado, and cauliflower.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Biotin may be the primary B-complex vitamin required for healthy nail growth and development. But it’s not the only one. We also have vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin.
In fact, studies have shown that vitamin B12 deficiency may cause unusual nail pigmentation. Without urgent intervention, the nails may develop a very unsightly bluish tint.
Vitamin B12 supports nail health by promoting efficient iron absorption. This facilitates the healthy production of red blood cells, thereby ramping up the flow of oxygen and valuable nutrients to the nail beds.
Like all other B vitamins, cobalamin is also involved in energy production by converting carbohydrates into glucose. Moreover, this vitamin can help the body to properly utilize other nutrients, particularly protein and fats.
2.4 mcg is the recommended daily allowance for vitamin B12. And while the quantities may seem low, cobalamin is notoriously difficult to absorb into the bloodstream. Therefore, your best bet is to consume it as a supplement. You can find cobalamin naturally in meat and dairy products.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)
Completing our list of the best nail-friendly vitamins is a vitamin that needs a little introduction. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is probably best known for its antioxidant properties.
The vitamin is necessary for healthy growth, development, and repair of all tissues in the body. These include nail tissues.
Vitamin C also plays a role in collagen formation and iron absorption. Remember that collagen serves as the building block for nails. On the other hand, more iron is required to make red blood cells, which helps supply essential nutrients to your nail beds.
Vitamin C deficiency is associated with many chronic health issues, including anemia, scurvy, slow wound healing, muscle degeneration, and poor nail health.
Common sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables, white potatoes, tomatoes, and strawberries.
Protein is the second-most useful nutrient the human body requires, coming only after water. And although many people mainly associate it with healthy muscle development, this nutrient plays an equally important role in maintaining radiant nails.
Nails are primarily made of a special fibrous structural protein known as keratin.
Keratin is the compound that makes nails so strong and resilient. It shields your nails from physical stress.
One of the best things about protein is a long list of products to supplement. The nutrient is abundant in both animal- and plant-based products. That’s despite the fact that its recommended daily allowance is a paltry 0.36 grams per pound.
Common animal protein sources include beef, poultry, and seafood. You won’t go wrong with soybeans, beans, lentils, and broccoli if you’re a vegetarian.
Zinc is easily one of the most underrated nutrients. But that doesn’t make it any less valuable.
This nutrient is involved in the healthy growth and multiplication of cells. That’s great to know, considering nails comprise cells that grow and replicate quickly.
So, supplementing with products high in zinc is a proactive way to make your nails grow fast. Issues with nail beds and nail pigmentations are often due to zinc deficiencies.
In addition to supporting cell division, zinc is an integral part of your immune system. The mineral promotes wound healing, blood clotting, gestation, and thyroid functions.
The recommended daily allowance for zinc is 8 milligrams for females and 11 milligrams for males. You can find the mineral in readily available food products. Common sources include beef and seafood like oysters and lobsters.
Maintaining healthy nails doesn’t necessarily require investing in expensive nail polish. In many cases, you must make proper dietary changes by consuming foods rich in the above-listed nutrients.