Fingernails are a good indicator of overall health. Many vitamin or mineral deficiencies will reveal themselves in your fingernails. Fortunately, dry or brittle fingernails are easy to grow back, once you've identified the root of the problem. Below are the most useful vitamins for healthy fingernail growth.
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Biotin deficiencies may lead to brittle or split nails. Increasing your intake of biotin helps to increase your actual nail thickness by about 25%, according to a study done in Switzerland. You can find naturally-occurring biotin in egg yolks, yeast, cauliflower, lentils, milk, soybeans, and peanut butter.
Nails are made of keratin, a protein which also forms teeth, hair, and skin. Without enough protein, your nails are weakened and split easily. Aim for eight ounces of protein a day. The best sources are fish, chicken, red meat, eggs, tempeh, lentils, quinoa, and almond butter.
Calcium isn't just for your bones. Without sufficient calcium, your nails will grow brittle and your cuticles may look ragged. Try getting 1200 milligrams a day; the best natural sources are spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, and mustard greens. Dairy products are also full of calcium, but have less nutrients than greens.
To turn brittle nails into strong, glowing ones, make sure your diet includes sufficient omega-3 fatty acids. Eat a combination of wild salmon (farmed salmon won't have the rich omega-3s), walnuts, soybeans, broccoli, olive oil, pumpkin seeds, cabbage, and squash. Flaxseeds are the best vegan source of omega-3s around. You can also take evening primrose oil or fish oil supplements.
If your fingernails break easily or look discoloured, you may not be getting enough vitamin B12 in your diet. This supplement is absolutely vital for healthy nails, and is found it in meat, eggs, and dairy products. Unfortunately, there is no safe source of vitamin B12 from plants, but many vegan products are fortified with it, including textured vegetable protein and cereals.
White spots on fingernails indicate a zinc deficiency. Many women become temporarily zinc deficient before menstruation, and this may show up in their nails. Zinc is found in most protein-rich foods, such as meat, dairy, eggs, and fish. For vegans, the best source of zinc is pumpkin seeds.
Fragile, slow-growing nails may be an indicator of silica deficiency. This mineral comes from the earth's crust, and is necessary for nail, hair, and bone health. You can find it in herbs such as horsetail, nettle, and oatstraw. Make a tea from these herbs by boiling water slowly, on a low temperature, so that the vital minerals aren't lost through the steam.
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