Healthy fingernails are easily attainable with a little care and the intake of essential nutrients, especially vitamins. Find out more about the vitamins needed to maintain healthy nails.
Virtually every nutritional deficiency can affect the growth of the nail in some manner.” – M. W. Cashman and S. B. Sloan (Clinics in Dermatology)
Nails are indicators of our physical as well as mental well-being. To maintain the health of your fingernails, it is essential to nourish and protect them from infections and injuries. Healthy fingernails is something all women crave for. It is a common misconception that achieving it is difficult and tedious, and that only regular manicures can help maintain them. However, they can be easily achieved by caring for them appropriately and regularly. It sure requires little time and effort, but the result would definitely be worth it.
A robust and tough protein known as keratin, secreted by specialized cells of the epidermis, is the major component of a nail. It protects the fingertips and imparts strength, texture, and color to the nails. Vitamins play an important role in the production of keratin. Lack of vitamins and other nutrients can cause various nail-related problems, like brittleness, formation of ridges, dryness, and discoloration.
Vitamin A (retinol) plays a role in the synthesis of keratin in the body. It is required to maintain the strength and integrity of the nails. It also assists in nail growth and helps avoid dryness.
Sources: Carrot, pumpkin, papaya, sweet potato, tomato, apricot, spinach and other green leafy vegetables, egg, and dairy products.
B group vitamins help to maintain the texture of the nails protecting the nails from bacterial and fungal infections. Deficiency of vitamin B results in the formation of horizontal and vertical ridges on the nails and makes them fragile. Lack of vitamin B12 can lead to darkening of nails and curved or rounded nail tips. Biotin, a type of B vitamin, is essential for the growth of nails and prevents nail splitting.
Sources: Cereal, bell pepper, legumes, milk, cheese, egg, fish, and meat
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) ensures that the nails remain hydrated. Lack of vitamin C causes hangnails, and makes the nails appear dull and dry. It may also cause the tissues surrounding the nails to swell up.
Sources: Lemon, lime, orange, tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, parsley, and asparagus.
Vitamin D helps regulate keratin production. It imparts strength and prevents the nails from peeling.
Sources: Salmon, mackerel, beef, egg yolk, and cheese.
Vitamin E improves the texture of nails and strengthens them.
Sources: Cereal, green leafy vegetables, almond, sunflower seed, hazelnut, and peanuts.
Vitamin K is required to avoid nail splitting and cracking.
Sources: Green leafy vegetables, beet, plum, cucumber, and peas.
A balanced diet is the best way to fulfill these vitamin requirements. They can also be consumed in the form of dietary supplements. Along with vitamins, minerals like iron, amino acids, zinc, calcium, etc. are also essential to prevent ridging and cracking of nails. Women are prone to be deficient in calcium, and hence they should pay special attention to the subtle signs of calcium deficiency like peeling and brittleness of nails. Dietary protein helps to maintain a healthy nail bed, and the growth and strength of nails. Fatty acids improve the nail texture and help to maintain the suppleness.
Tips for Strong and Healthy Fingernails
- Avoid biting your nails. Instead, trim and file them regularly to ensure dry, clean and infection-free nails.
- Use your own instruments when you get a manicure done at the beauty salon. Wash the instruments with warm water after every use.
- In case of ingrown nails, see a dermatologist and get them treated.
- Make sure you moisturize your nails daily with a cuticle cream that contains vitamin E. You can also massage your nails with a mixture of honey, lemon juice, and olive oil.
- Treating your nails with a few drops of almond, jojoba, and rosemary oils, will make them stronger and improve their texture.
- Using a multivitamin nail paint base will help nourish your nails and keep them hydrated.
Just like any other body organ, our nails too are influenced by our daily diet. Therefore, a balanced diet containing all essential vitamins and nutrients coupled with the use of good nail-care products is the key to achieving strong, smooth, and healthy fingernails.