The strength of your nails depends on several factors including heredity, your diet, and your personal care habits.
While there’s not much you can do about your heredity, there’s a great deal you can do about your diet and personal care habits.
In this article, we will discuss these aspects of nail care and provide sound advice on eating right, making the most of supplements and taking good care of yourself to enjoy strong, healthy nails. Read on to learn more.
Contents & Navigation
- Healthy Body – Healthy Nails!
- The Right Minerals Build Strong Nails, Bones, & Teeth
- The Right Vitamins Support Healthy Nails
- How to Strengthen Nails with Good Nutrition
- Know the Nutritional Content of the Foods You Eat
- 9 Natural Fingernail Care Tips
- Taking Care of Natural Nails
- Basic Nail Care Routine
- How to Get Healthy Toenails
- Take A Holistic Approach to Fingernail Treatment for Healthy Nails
Healthy Body – Healthy Nails!
When you go for your annual physical, your doctor will examine your nails carefully. This is because the condition of your fingernails and toenails reflects the condition of your overall health.
Problems with your nails can give your doctor a clue as to any health warnings you may have brewing. For example:
- If your nails appear half white and half pink, it may indicate kidney problems.
- Yellow nails with a reddish base serve as harbingers of diabetes.
- White fingernails may indicate problems with your liver.
- Thick, yellowed nails may indicate lung disease.
- Pale or purple nail beds rings a sign of anemia.
- Brittle nails may tell the age, or deficiency of vitamin A, biotin, or vitamin C.
Experts can also analyze nail trimmings for the presence of a substance called disulfide bond. If found in your nails, it may only indicate development of osteoporosis.
The Right Minerals Build Strong Nails, Bones, & Teeth
Not getting the right balance of vitamins, minerals, and protein? Your nails will surely show it. Therefore, it makes an important daily habit to eat a balanced, healthy, whole foods diet, and take the right combination of supplements.
One of the most necessary minerals for excellent nail health is silica. Your body uses silica to process calcium, necessary for strong nails, bones, and teeth.
Eating whole grains will help you get silica. You can also drink certain herbal teas to obtain a healthy dose. Some of the best choices include:
- Oat Straw
Food-grade diatomaceous earth is also rich in silica. Adding food-grade diatomaceous earth to your daily diet as a supplement serves as a smart way to maintain strong bones, teeth, and fingernails, and generally, benefit your health.
In addition to silica, several minerals play an important role in keeping bones, teeth, and nails strong and healthy. Among them include:
Calcium benefits nail growth and helps prevent nail brittleness and dryness. White spots appearing on the nails may indicate a lack of calcium in the diet. It makes a good idea to take a supplement with multivitamins containing at least 40% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of this mineral. Eat a balanced diet rich in white beans, green leafy veggies, broccoli, and dairy products. [source]
Magnesium supports all bodily functions and is vital to proper utilization of calcium. Supplement daily with 300-360 mg of magnesium, and eat a diet rich in green leafy veggies, whole grains, dried fruit, nuts, and seeds. [source]
Iron supports good blood circulation and proper use of minerals and enzymes in the body. A lack of iron is often marked by discolored, ridged, thin nails. If you have a white “crescent moon” at the base of your nails, it likely warns you about iron deficiency.
Iron helps your body produce cells. Your blood should contain sufficient iron as it carries oxygen throughout your body. If your body does not pack enough iron content, it will encounter problems with absorbing nutrients resulting in varying conditions and illnesses such as anemia, low immunity, and extreme fatigue.
If you do not take enough iron in your diet, your hair will become thin and brittle, your fingernails will also weaken, and become concave in shape. It is not possible to get too much iron from dietary sources, but it is possible to take too much supplementation.
Keep supplementation of iron at a minimum. The RDA ranges from 8mg daily for seniors to 27 mg daily for pregnant women. [source]
Focus on eating foods rich in this valuable mineral. Examples include dried fruits, dark greens, leafy veggies, meat, fish, poultry, and beans.
Zinc also helps strengthen your immune system. It supports development and growth of the cells of your body while ensuring that you own a strong sense of smell. Zinc deficiency plays as a common issue on pregnant women. On the other hand, vegans or vegetarians may expose themselves to a greater chance of zinc deficiency.
Zinc deficiency causes slow healing of wounds, growth issues with hair and nails, and hair loss especially for men. MedlinePlus advises women over age 19 to take 8 mg of zinc daily. Meanwhile, males over the age of 14 need 11 mg of zinc daily. [source]
Sulfur is another vital mineral for good nail health and good overall health. Lean beef, fish, eggs, and garlic contain healthy amounts of sulfur.
MSM is a supplement that delivers biologically active sulfur to make nails grow fast and strong. It has been shown to increase hair growth and the growth and thickness of nails when taken as a daily supplement. MSM is also helpful in improving bone and joint health. [source]
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
The omega 3 fatty acids helps maintain the proper functioning of all body systems. They reduce inflammation throughout the body and keep the brain and central nervous system in good working order. Lack of omega 3 in your system can lead to stress, which is the basis of all illness.
Add supplements of omega fatty acids in capsule form such as:
- Evening primrose oil
- Borage seed oil
- Flax seed oil
- Fish oil
These oils work to moisturize the nail bed and help make weak nails stronger. [source]
Dietary sources include green peas, which pack a lot of nutrition into a tiny package. Fresh green peas also contain beta-carotene and a great deal of vitamin C. Although they contain no fat, they deliver a powerful punch of the omega 3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (aka ALA).
This multi-vitamin from Douglas Laboratories makes one of the good choices when it comes to supplements.
The Right Vitamins Support Healthy Nails
In addition to minerals and essential fatty acids, a good balance of vitamins is important to maintaining good health, which is reflected in strong, healthy nails. The most notable vitamins for strong nails include:
B vitamins help prevent splitting, cracking, and chipping, as well as ridges in the nails. Biotin (aka Vitamin H) makes one of the most important minerals to load up yourself with if you want to obtain healthier nails.
It functions as a water-soluble B vitamin. However, unlike other water-soluble vitamins, your body can produce this B-vitamin. If you consumed healthy fauna in your intestines, they can manufacture vitamin H.
For this reason, it is rare for healthy people to acquire biotin deficiency but it still ensures to take a supplement. According to the medical center at the University of Maryland, taking 30 micrograms of vitamin H every day can count as a wise move. As with all water-soluble vitamins, the excess will flush out through urine and perspiration, eliminating the danger of an overdose.
Vitamin C, along with folic acid and ample high-quality protein, can help prevent hangnails. This is another water-soluble vitamin essential for a strong immune system, overall good health, and strong nails. Skin, hair, and nails are made up of collagen, and vitamin C serves as a necessary component in its production.
If you do not get enough C, you will find that your hair becomes dry, thin, and brittle. Your nails and your hair will grow very slowly if your diet is lacking in C. Therefore, it is vital that you eat a diet consisting fresh fruits and vegetables. Take a high-quality supplement of 1000 mg of C daily, as well.
Amino acidssuch as L-cysteine, are also crucial to good nail and bone health. L-cysteine contains sulfur which usually comes as a content in food sources of protein. You can take up to 1400 mg daily as a supplement. Good food sources of L-cysteine include pork, chicken, and sunflower seeds. [source]
Vitamin A keeps the nail beds strong and helps prevent hangnails. In supplement form, take no more than 900 mcg daily. For cases of pregnant and nursing women you can increase this amount for up to 1300 mcg. [source]
Get ample vitamin A through many food sources. Some examples include tomatoes, carrots, squash, and dark green, leafy veggies.
Vitamin D ensures the body absorbs Vitamin C properly for an improved nail growth and strength. Recommendations for vitamin D supplementation range from 400-2000 IU daily based on age, diet, and amount of sun exposure a person receives.
Supplementing with 400 IU daily, eating foods such as dairy products, fatty fish, organ meats, and egg yolks is wise. Getting about 15 minutes of sun exposure a day is also a good way to supplement your vitamin D intake naturally.
Problems with vitamin D deficiency? This article shares three ways on how you can prevent and overcome this condition.
How to Strengthen Nails with Good Nutrition
To make sure you get a full complement of vitamins and minerals in your diet, eat a varied diet consisting of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and high-quality, low-fat protein sources. Take a high-quality multivitamin and supplement separately with the water-soluble vitamins (B and C), as well as the omega 3s and amino acids.
Your diet should consist of about half fresh fruits and veggies in season, one-quarter whole grains, and one-quarter protein. Avoid processed foods as they do not provide the fiber or nutrition found in natural, whole foods, and they can cause harm to your health in general.
Watch this video to learn more about foods you need to eat for healthier hair and nails.
Know the Nutritional Content of the Foods You Eat
If you “eat a rainbow” of fresh fruits and veggies, along with whole grains and high-quality, natural protein sources, you will feel strong and healthy all over. Still, understanding the nutritional content of the foods you eat can help you to consistently make wise food choices. [source]
You should strive to eat foods that are rich in phosphorus because it plays a key role in maintaining, repairing, and producing cells and tissues. It is vital for natural nail hardening. Foods with high-phosphorus content include:
- Whole grains
Some of these foods also provide essential fatty acids and high-quality protein.
Your nails compose of a hard form of protein called keratin, making it a very important reminder for you to include high-quality protein in your daily diet. In addition to eggs, fish, and nuts, good sources of protein include meats, poultry, dairy products, beans, and lentils.
Salmon, known as a super fish, comes as one of the best foods to eat for overall glowing good health, and especially for bone, tooth, and nail health. It packs in protein, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, and cysteine.
For all the reasons we have already mentioned, eggs are an excellent source of good nutrition for your nails. In addition to providing sulfur, protein, iron, biotin, and vitamin A, eggs serve as an excellent source of vitamins E, B12, B7, and H.
Eggs also support thyroid function by providing iodine. This is important to the health of your bones, teeth, and nails because any thyroid malfunction can cause bone loss.
Beans Provide Protein & Concentrated Nutrients
Beans are an economical and delicious storehouse of vitamins and minerals. They are filled with:
- B Vitamins
- Vitamin K
These valuable nutrients work together to benefit nail health and overall good health. In addition to these benefits, beans are also an excellent source of dietary fiber. Natural fiber is essential to good gut health, which is, in turn, essential to maintaining a strong and healthy immune system and overall good health.
To even further benefit from the nutritional value of beans, be sure to soak dry beans overnight before cooking. This allows them to ferment slightly and develop enzymes that make beans more easily digestible and unlocks their nutrients for easier and more complete absorption.
Pour off the soaking water and rinse the beans before cooking in fresh water with the spices, meats, and other nourishing additions of your choosing.
Oats are a simple, affordable, readily available whole grain that you can enjoy every day as a breakfast cereal or an addition to homemade muffins, pancakes, bread, and even main dishes, such as meatloaf. They deliver a wealth of minerals.
Only purchase old-fashioned oatmeal, not quick-cooking processed oats. This whole grain contains zinc, copper (which helps with iron absorption), silica, manganese, and B vitamins.
Like beans, whole oats can be made even more beneficial by soaking overnight before cooking.
Sunflower seeds are great for snacking and excellent for adding to baked goods, oatmeal, curries, and a variety of other dishes. They are rich in:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin E
These work together to promote healthy nails, bones, and teeth, as well as helping to protect your brain from the ravages of inflammatory conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
The best thing you can do to ensure balanced nutrition is to eat an abundant, healthy diet and take high-quality vitamin and mineral supplements daily to be sure of getting a well-rounded collection of vitamins, minerals, and general nourishment. These smart habits will help strengthen your nails, your bones, your teeth, and help you attain and maintain overall good health.
9 Natural Fingernail Care Tips
Good personal care habits are also important in attaining and maintaining strong, healthy, attractive fingernails and toenails. Taking care of your nails is simple. In fact, it is probably far simpler than you have been led to believe by manicurists, salons, nail product manufacturers, and others who stand to benefit from leading you astray. Follow these simple guidelines to keep your nails clean, healthy, and strong.
#1 – Keep Your Cuticles Intact
There is no need to push your cuticles back or trim them. Strong, healthy cuticles protect your nails from becoming infected with bacteria or fungus.
Instead of trimming, simply keep them soft and supple by massaging in a natural lubricant such as vitamin E, coconut, argan, olive, or jojoba oil (or something similar).
Do this at bedtime to give the oil plenty of time to soak in and nourish your skin. This practice will keep your cuticles smooth and attractive and will help you avoid hangnails. You may wish to put on a pair of light cotton gloves to prevent getting oil on your bedding.
#2 – Avoid Using Nail Hardeners
You don’t really want hard nails. You want strong nails. Strength is a combination of durability and flexibility. You get this from eating right, taking your vitamins, and keeping your nails properly trimmed and moisturized. Nail hardeners make your nails more likely to break.
#3 – Avoid Harsh Chemicals
In your nail products, personal care products, and household cleaning products take care to make choices that do not expose you to dangerous, damaging chemicals.
#4 – Use Natural Nail polish (or none at all)
When seeking products for your nails, look for natural nail polish brands that do not contain the following harsh and dangerous chemicals:
- Toluene is associated with central nervous system damage.
- Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen.
- Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) can cause endocrine disruption and organ problems.
Also, seek out polish removers that are not acetone based. Acetone dries your nails and can make them very brittle. [source]
Vegans will love this non-toxic and cruelty free nail polish from Farmer’s Market Berries.
#5 – Harmful For The Hair Can Also Cause Harm To Your Nails
Shampoos intended for oily hair may strip the oil from your hair and scalp. They will also do this to your nails. Read ingredients carefully, and always opt for the gentler and more natural choices.
#6 – Use Natural, Gentle Personal Care Products
Use gentle products such as hand soaps and shampoos. Avoid exposing your nails (and the rest of your body) to alcohol-based hand sanitizers and other drying chemical cocktails. Save money and know what’s in your products by using simple, safe DIY recipes.
#7 – Avoid Using Harsh, Drying Chemicals
Avoid using them while trying to clean around the house. Instead, go for natural alternatives such as DIY cleaners made with ingredients such as white vinegar, baking soda, essential oils, and the like.
#8 – Wearing Rubber Gloves When Cleaning
Wash your hands after exposure to cleaning products, and remember to use a gentle, moisturizing lotion after washing to prevent loss of hydration.
#9 – Avoid Nail Enhancements
If you are patient and consistent in following the advice presented here, in time you will have beautiful, strong, natural nails. Nail extensions and even nail tips can be damaging to your fingernails. Having your nails covered with an unnatural, air-blocking substance naturally weakens them, and the chemicals used to apply these products can be very damaging or even dangerous.[source]
Taking Care of Natural Nails
Do-It-Yourself! It’s fun and relaxing to receive a professional manicure service, but you may end up with a world of trouble when you do. Many people contracted chronic nail infections by partaking in regular professional manicures and/or pedicures.
Getting your nails done in a public place with tools used on other people serve as a bad choice. Aside from this, the chemicals used in professional nail salons and spas may cause harsher effects than products you use at home.
If you need a professional mani/pedi, bring your own tools and products. Try to get the first appointment of the day when the salon is at its cleanest.
Basic Nail Care Routine
A DIY manicure provides the same relaxation effect as professional one or even more so. When you do it yourself, you can take your time and have everything your way. Incorporating a manicure into a luxurious, at-home spa day is a great idea.
Begin by setting yourself up in a comfortable, quiet setting. Bring all your tools and supplies close at hand, then follow these simple instructions:
- Remove any old polish with cotton balls or pads and a non-acetone remover.
- Soak your nails in a shallow bowl or tray of whole milk warmed to body temperature or slightly warmer.
- Dry your hands with a soft, clean towel.
- Clip your nails to a comfortable length and smooth them gently with a diamond nail file that provides a fine, smooth filing edge. Avoid using standard emery boards. File gently and in one direction. Rasping back and forth tears the nails and sets them up for splitting. This Diamancel diamond nail file will do a great job.
- Massage your cuticles and nails with vitamin E oil (or the moisturizing natural oil of your choosing). Don’t wipe the oil off.
- Buff the nails of your right hand against the heel of your left hand and vice-versa. This will spread the oil thinly and evenly and leave your nails with a light glow. Don’t forget to do your thumbnails! Buffing improves blood circulation for a healthier nail bed, quicker growth, and stronger nails. You can buff your nails in this natural way anytime and anywhere.
- Apply a high-quality hand lotion or cream to your hands and forearms. Take your time to massage it in well.
- Lay a warm, dry towel over your hands and arms, close your eyes, and relax for 10 or 15 minutes. This will give the lotion a chance to soak in deeply.
- Clean your equipment thoroughly before your next DIY manicure. Wipe your clippers with a clean, damp cloth followed by an alcohol wipe or swab. Wash your diamond nail file with dish soap and hot water. Also, don’t forget to thoroughly dry all your equipment before storing it away. Try thes Chimocee nail clippers.
How to Get Healthy Toenails
Take care of your toenails the same way you take care of your fingernails. Keep them clean, trimmed (straight across to avoid ingrown toenails) and moisturized. Make sure to give your feet a chance to air out for several hours a day. In addition, always wear clean socks, and well-fitted shoes to avoid pressure on the nails, the development of foot fungus, and other problems.
Take A Holistic Approach to Fingernail Treatment for Healthy Nails
Take a whole-body approach to beautiful nails by eating right, taking good care of your body, and treating your nails gently. It may take a few weeks to see results if your nails become badly damaged. Remember damaged nails may also imply an indication of damaged health.
The condition of your fingernails and toenails reflects the condition of your overall health. It may be tempting to try quick fixes, such as polishes, hardeners, and other chemical-based concoctions. However, in the long run, these products are ineffective at best and damaging at worst.
Taking good care of your whole body will result in strong, healthy nails.