They’re good for scratching and scraping, and they look lovely when painted – but did you know that your nails can also provide insight into your health?
Are your nails dry, weak or thin? Do you find they break easily? If so, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 adults suffers from brittle nails.
To address this, first consider your protein intake. It’s the proteins in the nail matrix that create its hardness — for optimal strength, you want to make sure you’re getting enough of this macronutrient. Aim for at least 0.75g per kilogram of body weight per day, or simply make sure you eat a palm-sized portion of protein with each meal.
Another thing to consider is how much water you’re drinking. Nails are typically 18% water. When they drop below 16%, they can become dry and prone to breakage. Commit to drinking 2L water daily.
As a final step, amp up your zinc intake. A deficiency of this mineral has been found to contribute to brittle nails. Good sources of zinc include oysters, beef, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and lentils, or you can also supplement with zinc. Take 15–30mg daily for 3 months.
These are subtly different to brittle nails. Rather than breaking outright, they tend to peel or split easily.
Nails contain a plethora of minerals, including magnesium, copper, iron, calcium, and the aforementioned zinc. All of these are important, but studies have found a particular correlation between low magnesium and flaky nails. Even more interesting is that the fact that women tend to have higher levels of magnesium in their nails than men. This suggests that they need more of this mineral to maintain the same nail integrity.
Magnesium is found in a range of everyday foods, including spinach, Swiss chard and pulses. For flake-free nails, a good starting point is to eat a magnesium-rich side with every meal.
Do your nails bend easily? Perhaps you think twice about using them to scrape off a label, or you may have turned to shellac in an attempt to harden them.
Along with your protein intake (see above), it’s important to make sure you’re getting vitamin D and vitamin A. Soft nails – technically known as hapalonychia – have been associated with a deficiency of one or both these fat-soluble vitamins.
The best way to boost your vitamin D levels is through sensible sun exposure. You can also make sure you eat three servings of vitamin D-rich oily fish every week.
It’s a popular belief that white spots on your nails mean you need more calcium or zinc. However, the research on this is inconclusive.
The white spots may be a sign of trauma. This could be down to hitting your nail unknowingly, biting them or even handling them a bit too roughly during manicures. The best thing to do is leave your nails polish-free for a month or two and moisturise them regularly. It’s the perfect excuse to treat yourself to a luxury hand cream or, if you prefer to keep it simple, coconut oil works well, too.
Nails that curve gently up at the sides have been associated with iron-deficiency anaemia. This condition can make people feel fatigued and lightheaded. If your nail bed (the area under your nail) also looks unusually pale, this is a further sign that you should address your iron intake.
Most people know that one of the best sources of iron is red meat. Vegetarians and vegans should make sure they’re regularly eating lentils, spinach and sesame seeds.
You may also need to supplement with iron, but it’s important you get your levels checked first because it’s possible to take too much. Your doctor or a registered nutritional therapist can organise a blood test for you.
Taken from GLAMOUR UK. Read the original here.
For more health advice, click here!