Ever wondered why your nails are peeling, chipping and breaking? Or maybe you’re wanting to improve your nail health and speed up growth?
Your diet plays an important role in your nail health and certain nutrients can support you in getting long and strong nails!
Here are seven nutrients to help you keep your nails healthy, strong and long.
Calcium is a mineral that is associated with healthy bones and teeth. Food sources of calcium include dairy products (milk, cheese and yoghurt), fortified plant-based milks (almond, soy and rice), canned sardines with bones, almonds, winter squash, edamame beans and leafy greens (spinach, kale, bok choy and turnip). It is difficult for the body to break down calcium in the gut and absorption is often low from food sources, therefore supplementation ensures optimal absorption of calcium to meet daily requirements. Oxalates and phytates found in some plant foods (green leafy vegetables, soy products, tea, beans, nuts) bind to calcium and reduce the absorption of this mineral. Therefore, it is important to avoid eating high oxalate and phytate rich foods with calcium. When your body lacks calcium, your nails become thinner, weaker and brittle. Calcium is important for nail health, growth and strength. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for calcium for women aged 19-50 years is 1000 mg daily, for women above 51 years is 1200 mg daily, for pregnant and lactating women 1000 mg daily, for men aged 19-70 years 1000 mg daily and men above 71 years 1200 mg daily.
- Vitamin A
Vitamin A is available in two forms: Beta-carotene is a provitamin that is converted into vitamin A in the body and vitamin A is an antioxidant that protects the body against free radicals. This nutrient is often found in nail care products as it keeps the nail hydrated and makes thin, cracked nails grow healthier and stronger. The richest food sources of beta-carotene include any yellow, orange and green leafy fruit and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, sweet melon, butternut, broccoli, lettuce and winter squash. In general, the more intense the colour of the fruit or vegetable, the more beta-carotene it contains. Foods rich in vitamin A include beef liver, herring, eggs, dairy products, sweet potatoes, spinach, pumpkin, carrots, leafy green vegetables and bell peppers.
Iron is a mineral vital to provide the cells in the body with adequate oxygen which is necessary for healthy nails. The body uses iron to make haemoglobin, which is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body and myoglobin, a protein that provides oxygen to muscles. This nutrient improves nail strength, prevents breakage and splitting. Spoon nails (koilonychia) are soft nails that look scooped out and are a sign of iron deficiency anaemia or a liver condition known as hemochromatosis, in which your body absorbs too much iron from the food you eat.
Zinc is an essential mineral found throughout your body. It is involved in many aspects of cellular metabolism and plays a role in enhancing immune function, protein and DNA synthesis, wound healing and cell signaling and division. Food sources of zinc include oysters, chicken, red meat, legumes and nuts. Zinc helps with the healthy growth and replication of cells, therefore required for healthy nail growth.
- Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) plays an important role in red blood cell formation, cell metabolism, nerve function and the production of DNA. Food sources of vitamin B12 include poultry, meat, fish and dairy products. Vitamin B12 also assists with iron absorption in the body (ensuring formation of enough red blood cells), which is necessary for nail strength and growth. A B12 deficiency may include brown-grey fingernail and toenail discoloration.
- Folic acid
Folic acid (folate) is a B vitamin used by the body to make new cells and is the synthetic form of folate used in supplements. It is important for brain function, mental and emotional health and aids in the production of the body’s genetic material. Folic acid plays a significant role in tissue and cell growth during pregnancy, infancy and adolescence. This B vitamin helps generate cell production which encourages nail growth.
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid and plays a role in the growth, development and repair of all body tissues. It is an essential vitamin found in food sources such as citrus fruit, peppers, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and potatoes. Vitamin C helps maintain the integrity of nails by strengthening skin, connective tissue, bones and blood vessel walls.
Need help choosing the right supplements to improve the quality of your nail health? Reach out and let us help you.