Integrative Nutrition Blog
What Your Nails Say About Your Health
There are many ways your body gives you clues about your health. One often-overlooked indicator is your nails, which can be affected by illness, surgery, trauma, stress, and nutritional deficiencies.
Here are some common nail problems to look out for:
- White lines or spots may be caused by trauma to the nail or finger, like hitting it against something hard.
- Dry, cracked nails are extremely common and generally nothing to worry about. If you frequently get manicures or work with water or cleaning supplies, brittle nails are normal. If they persist, brittle nails could be a sign of hypothyroidism or an iron deficiency.
- Concave or spoon nails occur when the nail gets so thin that it becomes concave. A possible cause is an iron deficiency or anemia. Trauma or working with petroleum-based products can also cause nails to become concave.
- Yellow nails could be from something as simple as nail polish stains or a sign of a fungal infection. Though rare, yellow nails can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as thyroid disease, lung disease, or diabetes.
- Pitted nails are when little dents or small depressions appear in your nails. This is often a sign of psoriasis, a chronic skin condition.
Though supplements may help resolve nail issues, you can likely get the nutrients needed for healthy, long nails from eating the right foods.
- Iron is essential to keeping your nails strong and healthy. To increase your iron intake, try incorporating lean cuts of red meat into your diet. Kale, spinach, and shellfish are also good sources of iron.
- Biotin also helps strengthen nails and support growth. Sources of biotin include eggs, bananas, beans, cauliflower, lentils, peanuts, and Swiss chard. Salmon is a great way to bring more biotin into your diet; plus, it has additional benefits. The tasty fish is high in inflammation-reducing omega-3 fatty acids, which can also help support healthy nail beds.
- Silicon is another mineral that may help fight brittle nails by assisting your body in making collagen, an important protein that makes up your nails, hair, and teeth. You can find collagen in oats and other unrefined grains as well as spinach, bananas, lentils, and beans.
- Magnesium-containing foods, likealmonds, leafy greens, cacao nibs, and soybeans, are great options for helping to keep nails strong and healthy.
Because your nails are made of a structural protein called keratin, protein is vital to nail health. Add lean meats, eggs, low-fat dairy, nuts, seafood, soybeans, and whole grains to your diet for strong nails.
While we want our nails to be healthy and look healthy, it’s important to give nails a break from polish every once and a while. Make sure to use acetone-free nail polish remover and moisturize the cuticles regularly.
How do you keep your nails healthy? Let us know in the comments below!