Dr. Luiza Petre, a cardiologist and nutrition expert, shares her nutritional tips to show off healthy and beautiful nails.
Dr. Luiza Petre
Your hands say a lot about your health. Take a look at your nails and you may notice imperfections—white dots, the roughness of the surface—that may not look like much to you, but these blemishes can indicate vitamin deficiency in your body or even serious health problems. From nails that are weak to nails that are pocked, there’s a nutrition cure for almost every ailment. Eating a well-balanced diet filled with protein, vitamins and minerals makes your nails stronger, longer, and healthier from the inside out.
If your nails are a flat color or streaked with other colors, a vitamins deficiency might be to blame. It can also be the result of an underlying health problem or overall nutrient deficiency. As you age, your body doesn’t absorb B-complex (commonly called Biotin) vitamin as well. Biotin promotes healthy cell growth and ensures that the body metabolizes protein-building amino acids—all good things when it comes to helping nails grow stronger and healthier. Cutaneous manifestations of Biotin deficiency include pallor, brown-gray fingernail, and toenail discoloration. Try to enhance your diet with foods rich in vitamin B-complex such as eggs, tuna, wheat germ, whole grains, raw milk, cheese, and salmon.
Brittleness of the nails means that the fingernails easily become cracked or split. It is often a sign of aging. If your nails are brittle, you should check your hormone levels as it’s often a sign of low thyroid, also called hypothyroidism. The great news is that some foods can help get your thyroid working properly. Avocado and potatoes are excellent sources of tyrosine, an amino acid whose low levels are linked to hypothyroidism. Cranberries provide iodine. The thyroid gland requires iodine for normal function. Half a cup of cranberries contains 400 mcg of iodine. Try also taking Omega-3-rich foods because deficiencies of this fatty acid have been linked to lower thyroid hormone levels. Add two tablespoons of flaxseed oil to your cereal or smoothies. Also, you need to know that thyroid issues take some time to treat so that you won’t see a difference in the appearance of your fingernails for a full growth cycle.
Distinct nail ridge lines often become more numerous or prominent due to the mineral silica, iron deficiency or, with age. The reasons are variations in cell turnover and the nail’s increasing inability to retain moisture. As we age the nail matrix becomes vestigial, which results in longitudinal ridging of nails. However, if the ridges run horizontally, they may indicate a health problem.
Breakfast muesli made with raw soaked oats eaten daily supplies lots of silica. Barley bread is also a good source of the mineral. To keep your fingers fit, up your intake of silica-rich foods and pair them with iron-rich foods (fortified cereals, eggs, spinach).
Soft, weak nails
Your nails are composed of laminated layers of a protein called keratin. Since Keratin is the main protein that holds the structure of your nails together, start with healthy foods that can increase keratin levels. If you regularly eat meat, eggs, quinoa, beans or other protein-rich foods, you don’t need to worry. These foods will ensure you’re getting balanced meals and the nutrients your nails need to stay healthy. Shoot for about six ounces a day to prevent soft, weak nails. ■
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