Your nails are an indicator of your health, says worldwide nutrition educator and trainer for Herbalife, Susan Bowerman. “Just like any other living tissue, your fingernails rely on a steady supply of nutrients to keep them strong and healthy.” Here Susan answers our most biting nail questions.
What can I eat to make my nails grow faster?
Your nails are made up of layers of protein known as keratin, the same protein found in your hair. They tend to grow at a fixed rate, with some slight variations: men’s nails usually grow faster than women’s (except during pregnancy, when the pace often picks up), fingernails grow faster than toenails, the nails on your little fingers grow more slowly than the others, and nails usually grow faster in the summer than in the winter. Also, the hardness of your nails is largely determined by genetics. Even though you can’t make your nails grow faster or make them harder, it’s important to provide them with the nutrients they need to stay strong and healthy. That way, your nails may be able to grow longer as they may be less likely to crack or break.
What can I eat to improve my nail health?
Protein. Since your nails are composed primarily of protein, it should come as no surprise that you need adequate protein in your diet to support the health of your nails. Choose from a range of low-fat plant and animal sources such as soy and other beans, eggs, dairy products, seafood, poultry and lean meats. You could also benefit from one or more of the following nutrients:
Omega-3 fatty acids: Healthy fats can help keep your nails moisturised, preventing them from appearing dry and dull. Fish is the best source of omega-3s but you can also find omega-3s in walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds too.
Zinc: Zinc is a mineral that’s vitally important in protein synthesis, as it helps your body manufacture the keratin protein in your nails. Oysters are the richest source of zinc, but you’ll also find it in other proteins such as meat, fish, poultry, beans, yoghurt and nuts.
Magnesium: Magnesium is a multitasking mineral – it’s needed for literally hundreds of chemical reactions in your body and, like zinc, helps your body to manufacture the proteins found in your nails. Magnesium is also easy to find because it’s so abundantly available in healthy foods. Green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, avocado, whole grains, yoghurt and soy milk are all good sources.
Find out if you are making one (or more) of the three biggest nail mistakes here!