If fingernails are smooth and peachy-pink, you are in no pink of your health. Appearance of nails reflects your nutritional status as well as body’s nutritional status as well as body’s nutritional needs. Let us look at individual nutrients and what happened to fingernails if those nutrients are different.
Fluid Deficiency: Like skin, nails also require adequate hydration. In the absence of proper hydration, nails become dry and brittle. Hangnails (dry, torn piece of skin near fingernail) are often among the chief complaints in dehydrated individuals. Keeping yourself hydrated is the key to healthy nails.
Protein Deficiency: Fingernails are made of protein called ‘Keratin’. If the body is starved of protein, it is reflected in the nails as white bands across the nail bed, brittle nails. If noticed diet can be evaluated for protein and protein-rich foods like milk and milk-products and dhal and legumes can be incorporated to correct and prevent the same.
Vitamin A and Protein Deficiency: Vitamin A is involved in the structural integrity. Thus, deficiency of Vitamin A also takes its toll on nails. Vitamin A deficient individuals often complain of soft, fragile, peeling nails. Similar problems are encountered with biotin deficiency as well. Milk and milk products, yellow-orange fruits and vegetables, whose grains, beans etc can come to the reserve of these individuals.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Deficiency of Vitamin B12 can severely affect fingernails like Dry, Flat, Thin, Fragile nails are often seen with inadequate Vitamin B12 in the diet. Here again milk and milk products are a source of Vitamin B12
Vitamin C and Folate Deficiency: Deficiency of Vitamin C can cause Reddish – brown spots, hangnails, swelling of nail bed are often encountered when body is having low vitamin C and folate stores. Inclusion of fresh citrus fruits, vegetables like cabbage, capsicum, green leafy vegetables can help to improve the body vitamin C and folate stores. Avoid over cooking, using iron knives, fine chopping, washing after chopping to conserve these vitamins.
Minerals Deficiency: Calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, silicon, sulphur and selenium. These are the minerals involved in the structural health and these are vital for fingernail health. Adequate amounts of these minerals ensure proper growth of nails with adequate strength. Deficiency of these minerals will result in dry, brittle nails due to malformation of structural proteins like Keratin, collagen, onions and broccoli will provide essential sulphur and silicon, whereas inclusion of milk and milk products, green leafy vegetables legumes and pulses will make sure that required calcium and phosphorous are pumped in. whole grains, beans, spinach, banana and nuts provide the essential magnesium and selenium.
Iron Deficiency: Lack of iron in the diet is reflected as pale, brittle and concare nails with vertical ridges. These are amongst the clinical signs of iron deficiency and anemia. Non heme-iron from roasted/sprouted garden cress seeds, lotus stem, and soya and soya products, cauliflower and drumstick greens, watermelon, prunes, dates accompanied by citrus fruits/juices rich in Vitamin C do the needful.
Zinc Deficiency: Finger Nail changes, white spots, pale nails, inadequate growth can be due to zinc deficiency. These, when severe, are clearly linked with acrodermatitis enteropathica, a zinc deficiency disorder. Whole grains and cereals, and nuts can help meet the zinc requirements and combat the symptoms.