Like the hair on your head, your fingernails consist of layers of keratin protein. When your nails are healthy, your body uses nutrients and proteins to create more keratin, pushing the growing portion of the nail out from the nail bed. However, if you observe that your nails grow very slowly or are discolored or misshapen in appearance, it may be time to incorporate additional nutrients in your diet in order to experience healthier nails.
An estimated 20 percent of women and half of all pregnant women experience iron deficiency, according to Life Extension. Symptoms of iron deficiency can include brittle nails, pale skin, irritability, lack of energy and/or a swollen tongue, according to the University of Chicago Medical Center. If you suspect you may be suffering from an iron deficiency, a blood test can help your physician make a proper diagnosis.
Taking iron supplements can improve the condition of the nails. However, these supplements should be taken on an empty stomach, as they have been linked with severe stomach upset. The University of Chicago Medical Center recommends taking the supplement with orange juice.
Biotin is a B-complex vitamin that has been linked with promoting healthy nail growth, according to Life Extension. While MedlinePlus finds that sufficient evidence does not exist to draw a concrete link between biotin and nail growth, it does find that the supplement has been recommended for nail growth, especially in women. Taking 2.5 milligrams of biotin a day can help to strengthen and thicken brittle nails, giving an overall healthier nail appearance. However, this treatment may take several months in order to experience significant benefits.
Zinc is a mineral that has been associated with improving skin health, according to Life Extension. Because the fingernails are an extension of the skin, taking a zinc supplement can reduce the occurrence of deformed or broken nails, reddened cuticles, and white spotting on the fingernails. Taking a supplement of 50 milligrams daily may help achieve healthier nails that are more normal in coloring, as zinc also can reduce the appearance of yellowed nails.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.