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5 Diet Tips for Growing Strong Nails

Diet Tips for Strong Nails

The paragraphs below present five diet tips that can help you grow strong nails and prevent common nail problems. Note: the information provided below does not constitute a substitute for professional medical advice.

#1:  Get Enough Protein

Nails are primarily made up of a fibrous protein called keratin, and a diet that is too low in protein may cause nails to become thin and brittle and slow down the rate of nail growth. An inadequate intake of protein may show up as white bands on the nails. Also the absence of the so-called "half moons" on fingernails may be a sign of insufficient protein intake. Protein is abundant in a wide range of foods, particularly in foods of animal origin. A typical Western diet usually contains sufficient amounts of protein and eating additional protein for nail health is not necessary. Even though nails are made of protein, excessive amounts of dietary protein are unlikely to improve nail growth and may cause other health problems.

The vitamin C in lemons can prevent hangnails and ingrown toenails.

#2:  Be Sure to Eat Plenty of Foods Rich in Vitamin C

Another great diet tip for people who are looking to grow strong nails naturally is to make sure that their diet contains plenty of vitamin C rich foods. A deficiency of vitamin C may contribute to the development of hangnails and ingrown toenails. Vitamin C also increases iron absorption from foods. To enhance the beneficial effects of vitamin C, combine foods rich in this important nutrient with foods that contain vitamin E, another key vitamin for healthy nails. Vitamin E promotes the circulation of the blood that carries oxygen to the nail beds, which in turn boosts nail growth. Vitamin C and vitamin E protect each other and are more effective when consumed together.

#3:  Load on Foods that Boast B Vitamins

Vitamin B7 (biotin) has long been known to strengthen horses' and pigs' hooves which are made of keratin, the same substance human nails are made of. More recently, supplementation with biotin has been shown to significantly increase nail plate thickness in humans and to reduce nails' tendency to split. Swiss researchers gave 2.5mg of biotin every day to a group of women with brittle nails. After the six month trial period, the women's nail thickness had increased by 25%. Other B vitamins, such as B12 (cobalamin), have also been linked to nail health. A deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to excessive nail dryness, overly curved nail ends, and darkened nails. Also horizontal and vertical ridges on fingernails may be a sign of an insufficient intake of one or more B vitamins.

Oatmeal provides zinc which is necessary for strong, beautiful nails.

#4:  Add Zinc Containing Foods to Your Diet

Zinc is yet another vital component to healthy nails. It plays an important role in protein synthesis and is necessary for tissue growth. A zinc deficiency has been linked to poor nail growth. In addition, white spots and washboard ridges onfinger nails may be caused by a paucity of zinc in diet. Zinc, which requires vitamin B6 for proper absorption, is found in a variety of foods, the best sources being oysters, red meat, and poultry. Zinc from plant sources such as nuts, legumes, and grains is of a different type than that found in animal sources and is not readily used by the body, although oats are a good source of zinc that the body can easily use.

#5:  Ensure a Sufficient Intake of Iron

A chronic iron deficiency can cause dry, brittle nails or washboard ridges on the nails. Also flat or upturned nails (as opposed to nails with a downward curve) may reflect an iron deficiency. An iron deficiency is the most common form of nutritional deficiency in women, and it is often found in women who are menstruating (especially if they have heavy periods) and women who are pregnant or have just given birth. Also long-distance runners and vegans have a particularly high risk of being deficient in iron. To prevent or correct this deficiency, eat more iron-rich foods such as dried fruits, egg yolks, liver, lean red meat, oysters, poultry, salmon, tuna and whole grains.

For further diet-related information and tips on how to grow strong nails, see: