Nails are part of the body’s covering system. The covering system, which consists of skin, hair, nails, and skin glands, acts as a barrier between the external environment and the internal part of the body, and its task is to maintain body fluids and prevent dehydration, help eliminate waste, regulate body temperature, and protect from the body against pathogenic agents.
Many factors can affect the appearance and health of your nails, including gel manicures, certain illnesses, dehydration, the foods and drinks you consume, and even aging.
The lack of vitamins and minerals affects the nails, and for this reason, examining the nails is an important part of evaluating the nutritional status. Although many factors can cause changes in the appearance of the nails, the possibility of nutrient deficiencies or poisoning should always be considered, especially if other possible causes have been proven not to be contributing to the changes in the nails.
What effect does lack of vitamins and minerals have on nails?
If you don’t have proper nutrition, you may see evidence of vitamin and mineral deficiency on your nails. Nail changes depend on which nutrient you are deficient in, but usually include:
- Nail prominence
- Bending and curving of the nail
- Nail color change
- Brittle nails
- Cracked nails
- Beau’s lines, which are seen as horizontal lines on the nail
- Koilonychia or spoon-shaped nail
Lack of which nutrients leads to dry and brittle nails?
Your nails can say a lot about your health. Adequate intake of various vitamins and minerals helps in the formation, growth and strength of new nail cells, and for this reason, a change in the appearance, texture or shape of the nail can indicate a lack of nutrients. The most important nutritional deficiencies that can affect the health and strength of nails are:
Found in animal foods and fortified grains, this essential vitamin helps maintain healthy body cells and build DNA. Most people get enough vitamin B12 from their diet; But vegans and vegetarians may be deficient because this nutrient is not naturally found in plant foods. Of course, you can find it in some fortified plant-based foods, such as breakfast cereals.
The elderly and some people with certain conditions may have trouble getting enough vitamin B12. The lack of this nutrient leads to the creation of vertical ridges on the surface of the nail and can even affect the color of the nails and cause the formation of a bluish color on them.
Inadequate intake of iron leads to iron deficiency anemia, one of the most common symptoms of which is brittle or spoon-shaped nails. In these cases, the edge of the nail turns upwards and the nail becomes hollow, so that it can hold a drop of water on it. In addition, the nail may crack easily.
In addition to anemia, other factors may also contribute to the development of spoon-shaped nails, among which hypothyroidism, heart disease, and liver disease can be mentioned.
Biotin, which is one of the B vitamins and is known as vitamin B7, plays a role in maintaining the health of skin, hair and nails, and its deficiency makes nails weak and prone to breaking.
It is important to mention that biotin deficiency increases the brittleness of nails and hair thinning, but if you do not suffer from its deficiency, increasing the consumption of biotin or taking its supplement will not improve the condition of your nails.
Note: Taking large amounts of biotin can interfere with the results of some medical tests, so you should inform your doctor about taking its supplement.
You must have heard that getting enough calcium is necessary to maintain the health of bones and teeth, and its deficiency causes osteoporosis. But the benefits of this nutrient do not end there and can affect the appearance and health of nails. Because the evidence shows that calcium deficiency causes dry and brittle nails. Dairy products are the best source of calcium, but this nutrient is also found in sardines (with bones), beans, and seeds.
Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega-3 is a type of essential fatty acid, meaning the body cannot make it and you must get the omega-3 you need through foods and supplements (such as fish oil). Inadequate intake of omega-3 has a negative effect on nail strength and can lead to cracking of your nails.
Found in meat, eggs, dairy, nuts, and legumes, zinc is an important mineral that insufficient intake can cause biolines or horizontal lines on the nails. Keep in mind that bio-lines can be the result of other things, from nail damage to other ailments.
Research shows that two nail-related diseases are caused by a lack of vitamin C: Hapalonychia, which causes the nails to become soft and thin, and Koilonychia (spoon-shaped nails).
Vitamin C helps the absorption of iron in the body, and for this reason, its insufficient intake is effective in suffering from iron deficiency anemia. Fruits and vegetables such as oranges, kiwis, limes, strawberries, broccoli, parsley and bell peppers are good sources of vitamin C.
Evidence shows that folate (vitamin B9) deficiency causes a bump in the middle of the nails. Lack of iron and protein can also play a role in the formation of this bulge. You can supply your body with folate by consuming legumes, eggs, citrus fruits, bananas, leafy vegetables such as spinach and nuts.
Other factors that can affect nails
Many everyday habits and illnesses can affect the appearance of your nails, including:
- Humidity: Both low humidity and high humidity play a role in increasing the brittleness of nails.
- Use of acetone: Acetone in nail polish removers may lead to brittle nails.
- Some diseases: Yellow nails can indicate thyroid problems or diabetes. In people with advanced kidney disease, the nails may appear two-colored, that is, the top of the nail is white and the bottom is reddish-brown. A condition called Terry’s nails, which causes most of the nail to appear white, except for a narrow pink stripe at the top, is associated with liver disease, congestive heart failure, aging, or other conditions.
Tips for nail care
Try the following tips to keep your nails healthy and take care of them:
- Keep nails dry. When nails get wet and dry several times during the day, their fragility and dryness increases. Of course, this is inevitable when you have to wash your hands regularly; But you can minimize contact with water by wearing gloves while washing dishes and use lotion after you’re done. In addition, it is better to use gloves when using cleaning liquids and detergents.
- File the nail in one direction only. The reciprocating movement of the file causes the nails to become thin and layered.
- Use acetone-free products to remove nail polish.
When should you see a doctor?
Of course, none of us want brittle, misshapen or unsightly nails, but this is more than just aesthetics and can be related to nutritional deficiencies or other serious ailments. Therefore, if you face such a problem, see a doctor or a dermatologist so that the cause of its occurrence is determined and the appropriate treatment is provided.
If you have ever experienced dry and brittle nails, you know how annoying this problem can be. Vitamins and minerals help to grow and maintain the health of nails, and for this reason, their lack causes nails to change shape and become brittle. If you want to have healthy and beautiful nails, you should include a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and foods containing protein and omega-3 in your diet.