Certain changes of our nails actually indicate to nutrient deficiencies and health problems such as anemia, thyroid problems and many more health issues.
Lisa Petty, a holistic nutritionist in Canada and author of Living Beauty (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2005), says: “Nails suffer the most when we don’t treat our bodies well. When nutrients go into our bodies, the skin, hair, and nails get them last. So a nail problem can signal a problem in our bodies.”
The nail bed is the ultra sensitive skin at the end of our fingers and toes and fingernails and toenails protect it because they are made of keratin protein. Even though each individual has distinct nails, still, healthy nails share similar characteristics like the following ones: they are smooth, not easily breakable, and translucent (the pink color comes from the network of tiny blood vessels underneath the nail plate). On the other hand, our nails can be damaged, discolored if our nail matrices don’t get enough nutrients.
Luckily, it depends on us whether we will have healthy nails or not. All we need to do is to change our way of style, eat more healthy food, intake vitamins, supplements, etc. Here’s how to combat common nail woes and make your tattered talons healthy and strong.
1 Problem: Brittle or split nails
Causes: Lack of moisture or not enough of the B vitamin biotin
Solutions: according to Richard Eisen, MD, a dermatologist at South Shore Skin Center in Massachusetts, we should take 2000 mcg of biotin on a daily basis. Moreover, we should also take 1000 mg of fish oil per day in order to moisturize our nails. In order to keep them hydrated on the outside, make sure to apply natural oil like almond every day.
2 Problem: Soft or upward-curving nails
Cause: Iron deficiency
Solution: according to Eisen, people who have low levels of iron should take 325 mg of iron sulfate three times a day.
3 Problem: Vertical ridges
Cause: Age (think of vertical ridges as wrinkles on your nails)
Solutions: polish your nails with several drops of almond oil and chamois buffer in order to smooth out ridges. Rachel Gower, founder of The Upper Hand salons in Houston recommends taking only 3 or 4 swipes per nail per week because buffing removes a thin layer of nail.
4 Problem: Horizontal ridges or dents
Causes: ridges are created by trauma or by picking at your cuticle or continually hitting the front edge of your nail on a paper-towel dispenser. When it comes to dents, it means that trauma from surgery, high fever, nutritional deficiencies or psoriasis has affected the nail growth.
Solutions: According to Petty, people should take supplements of 10,000 IU of vitamin A on a daily basis in order to help their nails metabolize the protein, along with3 mg of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid (dietary silicon) to strengthen nails.
5 Problem: Yellow nails
Causes: Lack of vitamin E or not giving nails enough time to breathe between polishes
Solutions: According to Eisen, we should take 400 IU of vitamin E 2 times per day. Moreover, other great sources of this antioxidant are almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, sweet potatoes and wheat germ oil.
6 Problem: Fungus
Causes: when the nail matrix and cuticle are exposed on a regular basis to moisture and warmth, then yeast and bacteria grow. Fungal infections spread extremely fast under toenails, and the main symptoms are yellow, greenish, or dirty-looking nails; thickness; or separation of the nail from the nail bed.
Solutions: in order to clear the fungus, make sure to soak your nails in antibacterial pure tea tree oil for 15 minutes per day. Another solution is to take 200 mg capsule of the antifungal herb myrrh three times a day.
7 Problem: White spots
Causes: Nail trauma (the most common culprit) or zinc deficiency
Solutions: According to petty, people who have white spots on their nails should take 50mg of zinc on a daily basis. They should also eat more peas, red meat, pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds on a regular basis. White spots caused by trauma will disappear as the nail grows.
When to Worry
We will present some nail blights which when accompanied with other symptoms such as fatigue or shortness of breath, can indicate far more serious health conditions.
- Yellow nails: chronic bronchitis
- Blue nail beds: circulation problems
- Red nail beds: heart disease
- Upward-curving nails: thyroid disease
- Brittle nails: hyper- or hypothyroidism
- White nail beds: liver disease