Nails are made up of layers of a protein known as keratin; this protein is also known to be found in your skin and hair. Changes and discoloration to any part of your fingernail may indicate that something is wrong with your nail health or even your bone health.
Symptoms that indicate your nails are unhealthy
Look out for these symptoms in case your nails are unhealthy:
- Discoloration of nails
- Brittle nails
- Bleeding around nails
- Slow growth of nails
- Swelling, redness or pain around nails
- Thinning of nails
- Nail separating from the skin
It is imperative to add important nutrients to your diet in order to avoid weak nails and further strengthen them.
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is fat soluble vitamin that is known to be effective in growing nails, strengthening bones, tissues and teeth. It acts as an antioxidant that prevents free radicals from damaging cells of the body. Many foods including eggs, milk, citrus fruits, spinach, apricots, apple, yam, et al are great sources of vitamin A that you can add in your daily diet.
Zinc deficiency may also lead to slow growth or abnormal discolorations of your nails. According to Linus Pauling Institute at the Oregon State University, zinc is an important mineral for many biochemical reactions involved in the growth and division of cells, which may include cells that produce skin, hair and fingernails. Some of the foods rich in zinc include cashew nuts, soybeans, flax seeds, spinach, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds, et al.
Not all fats are bad for health; essential omega-3 fatty acids keep your keratinocytes healthy so you can grow long and strong nails. Load up on omega-3 fatty acid foods that may include eggs, fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds, et al.
4. Folic acid
Folic acid or vitamin B9 is also considered effective in promoting nail growth. Nails are considered body's fastest growing cells; therefore, folic acid is required to provide health and moisture to these growing tissues. Some of the foods rich in folic acid may include beetroots, eggs, citrus fruits, avocado, spinach, et al.
Also known as vitamin H, biotin encourages nail growth and is absorbed in the core of the nail, the part embedded in the finger where cells are generated. It also helps the body metabolise fats and proteins for healthy skin, hair and nails. It is a natural substance found in foods like lettuce, cucumber, oats, walnuts, raspberries and milk among others.
Most parts of the body including nails are made of protein and so are the cells required to make them. Hence, a protein deficiency can lead to chipped and brittle nails. So load up on protein rich foods including soy, meat, fish, dairy products and eggs among others.
These nutrients and minerals should make an important part of your daily diet, not just for healthy nails, but also for a healthy body.