Unhealthy nails can have slow growth, ridges, dents, white spots, rips and an unusual color. Minerals and vitamins found in certain foods can improve the health and appearance of nails. Although eating certain foods will not provide a quick fix for nails, eating foods for healthy nails can help to contribute to nail health when combined with proper care and maintenance, such as cleaning and moisturizing.
Foods with B Vitamins
A lack of B vitamins, specifically biotin and vitamin B-12, can make your nails dry and brittle. Consume carrots, tomatoes, leafy green lettuce, liver, peanut butter, nuts, peas, oatmeal and beans as sources of biotin. Vitamin B12 can be found in meat, eggs and dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese.
Foods with Zinc or Iron
A zinc deficiency can cause white areas on the nails, similar to the marks that occur as a result of pressure on nails. Pumpkin seeds, beef, pork, lamb, dairy products and hard-boiled eggs are good sources of zinc. A lack of iron in foods can cause nails to grow with ridges rather than with a smooth surface. Eat leafy greens, prunes, grains, seeds, red meat, broccoli and tofu as sources of iron.
Foods with Calcium or Protein
A lack of calcium can cause the nails to be brittle and dry. Calcium benefits the body most when it is absorbed along with vitamin D, so milk is a great source of calcium. Other calcium sources include yogurt, cheese and kale. Protein benefits nails as well, since nails are made of keratin, a type of protein. Consume protein from beans, legumes, meat, eggs and soy.
Foods with Vitamin A or Vitamin C
Vitamin A, which can be found in beet greens, collards, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes and liver, can prevent nails from becoming dull and dry. A lack of vitamin C can cause hang nails. Bell peppers, cauliflower, oranges, watermelon, mangoes, tomatoes, strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe and grapefruit are all sources of vitamin C.
- University of Virginia School of Medicine: Examining The Fingernailsrel="nofollow"
- Health Guidance: Tips on How to Grow Long, Healthy Nailsrel="nofollow"
- Emory University: Fingernails and What They Revealrel="nofollow"
- Care Fair: The Best Diet Choices for Strong, Healthy Nailsrel="nofollow"
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitaminsrel="nofollow"
- fingernail filing image by Jaroslav Machacek from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.